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26 September 2017

More workshops wanted

Thanks for your positive response to our call to co-host workshops for food businesses that have to transition in year two of the Food Act. To date we've received around 12 requests.

But to make sure we're jointly reaching the maximum number of businesses we'd like to do more. As well as introducing the Food Act and covering our normal topics, we're open to tailoring the content. The tailoring should relate to the needs of year two food businesses in your region and be topics where we can provide expertise. A good example of this is what to expect from a verification.

You may also like to run the sessions on areas like registration where your daily interaction with businesses gives you the experience and expertise.

We'd be pleased to hear from you about any workshops you'd like, and discuss particular needs in your region. Please email foodactinfo@mpi.govt.nz or talk to Maggie, Damien or Tanya from the LGL team.

This month we're on the road to co-host workshops with Far North District Council. In October we're working with the Masterton, Clutha and Wellington Councils. We're also scheduling workshops in the Waikato region, Queenstown, Coromandel, Tasman and Waimakariri.

Know someone that's not getting Food News?

This newsletter is aimed at councils, verifiers and food safety officers working under the Food Act. If you have staff in these roles, please make sure everyone is getting it. Although we will communicate in other ways as well, Food News is the official source of information about the system!

You can forward to colleagues and subscribe using the links in the green banner at the top of the newsletter.

Toolbox of resources underway

Last issue we previewed the great new Toolbox resource for Food Control Plan (FCP) businesses to help make it easy for them to follow the procedures in their template FCP.

The Toolbox was developed with input from food businesses. It covers things they're concerned about like allergens and the Top 5 food safety factors, along with the Simply Safe & Suitable template, and useful posters and stickers.

We're now testing the resources extensively with up to 30 businesses to make sure the resources are well targeted to their needs. If testing shows the Toolbox is helpful for food businesses, we will send the resources for printing.

It's intended to give the Toolboxfree to new businesses when they register. After that, businesses will be able to re-order resources or the whole Toolbox at cost price. Existing businesses will also be able to order and pay for the Toolbox.

We will be contacting you soon to ask how the Toolbox should be distributed to the businesses you register.


TIps and information

Translations available

The Simply Safe & Suitable template has now been translated into Cambodian, Vietnamese and Hindi and we're currently getting it printed.

We have already received a number of orders but can accept more. If you'd like copies to disbutribute in your area please let us know by 12 October 2017. Please send your orders to cora.joyce@mpi.govt.nz with your name, postal address and quantity you'd like to order. As with the English version of the template, the first print run will be free. After that there will be a charge.

We've also been asked if an English as a second language business has been given a translated Simply Safe & Suitable template, whether the English version of the template can also be supplied for English-speaking staff. The answer is yes and if you don't want to supply a printed copy both the English and all translated versions are available to download on our website.

Fast Track applications invited

The Fast Track process to become a National Programme verifier continues to be available with a standard application cost for a person and for an agency.  There's been a great response to the fast track process and we now have well over 100 recognised verifiers across the country.

We welcome further applications. The fast track process allows an agency and/or person to be recognised by MPI, with conditions, provided that they:

• have supplied written evidence which meet fast track criteria;
• meet all the performance monitoring requirements; and
• will be fully assessed by 28 February, 2019 at the latest.   

You can apply for your agency and people to get recognised under the fast track process, and it may speed up the process if you apply for both at the same time.

Information and application forms are available on our website.


How can we support you better? - national survey

This month we'll email you the second national survey for Territorial Authorities on the Food Act 2014. The survey follows on from the Readiness Survey in 2014 where we asked about your preparation for the changes required by the Food Act.

In the current survey your information will update us on how the implementation of the Food Act is going for your council and how we can support you better. It's a privilege to work with you and your opinions matter to us.

Every TA completed the 2014 survey and we hope you'll all respond this time. The survey will only take around 20 minutes to complete after it is emailed to Leaders of Environmental Health Teams (or equivalent).

Keep using spreadsheets for verifications

We need to do some extra testing before the public release of the online InformationLeader system for verification and enforcement results. This means verifiers will need to keep using the existing spreadsheets for their verification results for the time being. We'll update you about InformationLeader just as soon as we can. 

Practice notes available

We've prepared guidance for territorial authorities about the differences in powers available to Food Act Officers appointed under the Food Act 1981 and Food Safety Officers under the new Act.

While the Practice Note doesn't list all available powers, it's clear that some powers are not available to people holding Food Act Officer warrants. For example, the power to serve an infringement notice is only available to people holding Food Safety Officer warrants.

If you are interested in becoming a Food Safety Officer, training information and the requirements for applicants are available here

Read about the different powers between the Food Act and Food Safety Officers

YOUR HELP wanted

Verifiers wanted for labelling testing

MPI's Food and Beverage group is leading a project with Australia to develop consistent guidance for the labelling and composition chapters of the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code.

Our aim is to write clear, consistent guidance to be used in both New Zealand and Australia.

We'll test the guidance with small to medium sized businesses in New Zealand and Australia. We'd also like to test the material with verifiers, so we're looking for verifiers to join our testing group.

If you join the test group, we'll send you a couple of documents to look at and ask for your honest feedback. The guidance will be written in the next month or two and testing will take place after that.

If you're a verifier and you'd like to be part of the testing, please contact Lisa Horsman - lisa.horsman@mpi.govt.nz


Year two communications update

This year around 10 to 12,000 food businesses need to register under the Food Act 2014 and, as you'll know, they're a diverse range covering food service and retail as well as manufacturers. 

We plan to use the same kinds of communications channels that were successful last year like co-hosting workshops with you, and industry bodies, messages through industry bodies, advertising and social media messaging. We'll also be advertising to the hard to reach smaller businesses, particularly those with English as a second language. This may lead to more enquiries and requests for assistance coming through.

For many businesses, the main way they get the information that they have to do something, is from you. Thanks for your work in contacting and reminding businesses of the need to register.

Some sectors though, haven't previously been regulated, or get information from other sources (eg verifiers, industry associations etc). Therefore we have a communications plan to make sure the messages go far and wide.

We are also working on separate communications plans to promote key food safety behaviours in food businesses and by consumers. When these are a bit further developed we'll be seeking your thoughts about key messages and how these are best communicated.