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3 February 2017

Happy New Year!!

Welcome to the first newsletter of 2017! We hope you all had a fabulous festive season, and are enjoying a good start to the year.


Does change of ownership require a new registration?

There have been a number of questions raised over this issue, and this is MPI's thinking. If a new operator takes over an existing business, they don’t necessarily require a new registration - but this depends on what else changes in the business. The business must inform the registration authority in writing of the new ownership, and it is up to the registration authority to assess the likely impact.

For food control plans, changes that are likely to affect food safety and suitability constitute a significant amendment. This means that if the day-to-day operation changes, or there are significant changes to the staff responsible for food safety, then the new business owner needs a new registration. This means they must register under the new Act straight away, even if it is prior to their deadline. They should also be treated as a new business in terms of timeframes for verification.

If there are no changes to the day-to-day operation, then the business can change the name on their plan or programme without having to make a new application to register. In this case, the business' existing verification frequency would apply. However, if the registration authority is concerned that the new ownership could impact on food safety and suitability they can request an unscheduled verification.

For more discussion on this, see LinkedIn forum

See details about significant amendments on the MPI website

What if businesses don't register on time?

With deadlines to register approaching, you may need to start thinking about what to do if businesses fail to register. MPI follows the VADE model of compliance, and this approach applies to registration too. In short, this means taking a graduated approach and encouraging and helping businesses to comply before taking any enforcement action. Use of reminders, followed by warning letters if required, would be reasonable steps that are consistent with previous practice for most Councils.

For those businesses that remain reluctant to meet their registration obligations, Food Safety Officers now have the option of using infringement notices. MPI would welcome discussion on what a National Compliance Strategy might look like with respect to businesses that don’t register on time. Do we want to be a bit lenient, because it’s a new system and people are still getting used to it, or more tough because it’s a new system and we want to start as we mean to go on?

How do businesses renew their registration?

It's nearly a year since the new Food Act came into effect! That means the date for some businesses to renew their registration is also coming up. Here’s some information that might help: 

1. The Act only allows businesses to renew their registration while it is current. That could create additional expense for businesses if they wait until their registration has expired and then have to submit a new application. To avoid this, businesses should be given plenty of warning. As with initial registration, some flexibility is also advisable, especially as businesses get used to a new system. You can provide extensions to expiry dates if necessary.

2. The operator should confirm, as a minimum, that these details are accurate/ up-to-date:

  • Registration type/ scope of operation
  • Legal name/ trading name
  • Day-to-day manager
  • Physical location
  • Contact details 

3. You don’t have to check they’ve been verified, but it would be good practice to do so.

4. This is the process MPI will be using for renewals. You don't have to do the same, but it may help

  • Renewal reminder 6 weeks in advance of expiry
  • Second reminder 2 weeks in advance of expiry
  • Reminder will include a copy of their current details, asking them to check and inform us of changes
  • If no significant amendments are needed, business pays fee and renewal goes through
  • If significant amendments are needed (FCP only), business applies for registration of the amendment.


What's next for the redesign?

The redesigned template now comprises three sections:

  1. Setting up your template
  2. The rules: know/ do/ show
  3. When something goes wrong. 

We are also continuing to develop the online tool to help businesses navigate the plan. 

We intend to launch the new-look template by the start of March. We have tested some of the ‘Know, Do, Show’ sections and received useful feedback. Wider testing and consultation will begin next week. The consultation will be sent to all those who are currently using the template, under both the new Food Act and VIP.

We have also been developing a toolbox comprised of different materials that food business can use to help implement their FCP, such as posters, laminated cards, and calendars. Our ambition is to allow businesses to pick and choose the tools that best suit them. These will not be launched immediately. We will continue to develop, test and add them after the launch of the new template.

The current template will remain in effect. Businesses using it will not have to make any changes if they don't want to, and any business could opt to use the current template if they prefer.


Advertising upcoming deadlines

The last newsletter mentioned some of the things MPI was doing to help communicate with businesses. We intend to launch some advertising in February, which aims to help raise awareness of Food Act deadlines and encourage businesses to register. The campaign is currently being finalised, but will include digital and radio advertising, including non-english speaking media. 

We will also put out a press release alongside this. As always, feel free to forward the press release to local media contacts. If anyone would like help publicising the Food Act with local media, please get in touch with Naomi naomi.landau@mpi.govt.nz

In case you missed it in December, we've also published a web page to help businesses decide if they need to apply to register by March this year: see web page


Verification guidance for businesses

At the end of last year we produced some guidance on how long verification is likely to take at different types of businesses. Thanks to everyone who gave us feedback at short notice! This has been updated based on comments we received, and a link to the updated version is below. We hope this guidance will make it easier for businesses to assess their verification quotes and understand what to expect. If you have any further feedback about the guidance, please contact michael.webster@mpi.govt.nz.

A reminder to please continue registering businesses that are unable to find a verifier. Councils that are in the process of becoming recognised can include themselves as the verifier, otherwise please contact MPI to organise their verification. 

How long does verification take? (PDF)

Available here on the MPI website

How to become recognised - new web page

In case you missed it in December, new information for 'how to become a recognised agency or person' is available on the MPI website. The updated page includes guidance on developing a QMS and details about how it will be assessed. 

View web page


We want to make sure this newsletter gives you the information you need to do your job. If there's anything specific you'd like to see addressed in this newsletter, please let us know, and we'll try our best to include it! Contact Naomi - naomi.landau@mpi.govt.nz