Dairy RegTech – DFSV's new service delivery model

The experience of Dairy Food Safety Victoria (DFSV) is an example of a regulator modifying their regulatory approach to encourage voluntary compliance where possible and focus compliance and enforcement activity where the risks and the impact of harm is greatest.

Dairy Food Safety Victoria (DFSV) is the statutory authority responsible for regulating the Victorian dairy industry to safeguard public health – implementing a robust regulatory framework that underpins market access and the growth of the dairy industry.

In January 2021, DFSV implemented Dairy RegTech, a voluntary program for dairy manufacturers developed during 2018 - 2020 in partnership with the industry. Dairy RegTech uses two powerful data sources (food safety performance combined with food safety culture maturity) and technology for better monitoring providing greater regulatory assurance. While the audit-based compliance system for Victorian dairy food has worked well over many years, DFSV and industry wanted to explore innovative approaches that were more proactive, collaborative and targeting compliance burden and regulator effort.

Under Dairy RegTech DFSV works with businesses to assess the impact of people and their practices on food safety (that is, the food safety culture) using a food safety maturity model specifically developed for the Australian dairy industry. Information from a self-assessment questionnaire, on-site interviews and focus groups are analysed and translated into a numerical score for businesses to identify areas where they will focus efforts over the next twelve months. DFSV has invested in the technical skills and capabilities of its regulators to carry out these assessments and support businesses as they strengthen their food safety culture.

Businesses also share food safety performance data they already regularly collect (for example microbiological testing results, close out times for corrective action requests, completion rates for training activities) and have worked with DFSV on improving the consistency and structure of data. Data is deidentified, analysed, trended, benchmarked and presented in an individualised password protected dashboard available on the DFSV Dairy RegTech portal. Sites can easily observe trends in the data and over time compare their performance to industry benchmarks of food safety data. 

DFSV auditors continuously examine this data allowing audits to shift from a paper focus to people focus (less time spent on checking paperwork) and tailored for each business (frequency and scope of audit).

Smaller businesses may have limited digital capabilities for their management of food safety. The Dairy RegTech portal provides digital record management as well as analysing and trending information for businesses to monitor how they are tracking.

With Dairy RegTech DFSV provides regulatory oversight to the dairy industry based on an individual business’s performance and culture, rather than applying a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach. For businesses regulatory burden is more proportionate to the risk profile of each business. For DFSV Dairy RegTech informs where to focus regulatory resources, where to reduce regulatory intervention and profiles new entrants.