New Zealand Food Safety Authority


Meet the New Zealand Food Safety Authority, the organisation that is responsible for the safety of New Zealand's food, with respect to both domestic and export consumption.

The brief was to engage consumers, to ensure that the work of the Authority was accurately directed in areas that were important to consumers, and to reassure consumers that the Authority was focused on the safety of New Zealand food.

Our approach used Open Space Technology to re-position the relationship between the Authority and consumers; with stakeholder groups from the people at the passionate edges to the voices in the middle, all together in the same space. The beauty of this approach is that it shifted the dynamic of who set the agenda and where the responsibilities lie, which is shared between the Authority and participating consumers. From this process of engagement a lasting consumer forum was created. We helped with the design and management of the forum, we do the facilitation, help to build the agenda and we assist with the reporting process. With the Open Space technology principals of shared agenda setting and working on the things that matter most, the forums have continued to go from collective strength to strength over the past four years. In addition, the Authority has been able to get direct consumer feedback on food safety issues of the moment in a more useful and timely way. This is a world first; the New Zealand Food Safety Authority is the only food safety regulator in the world to engage with consumers in this way.