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22 August 2017

Workshops wanted

With the transition for year 2 businesses already underway, we're keen to arrange more Food Act workshops for businesses and organisations impacted by the Food Act.

We'd like to know if you'd be interested in hosting a workshop in your area?

We've reviewed our workshop approach and would like to make the next round more specific to the needs of food businesses in different areas, so the information is more targeted.

We'd like to know if there are any modules we could develop together, that would be helpful to your area. For example:

  • How a business can prepare for a verification
  • Completing the Scope of Operations form
  • How to tailor a food control plan
  • Keeping records

or whatever fits the needs in your district. We'd also cover our normal Food Act topics.

We'd be pleased to hear from you about any workshops you'd like, and topics you'd especially like covered. Please email foodactinfo@mpi.govt.nz or talk to Maggie, Damien or Tanya from the LGL team.

This month we, and the Ruapehu District Council, held well attended workshops in Taumaranui and Ohakune. Sally Johnston and her team have meet with Regulatory Managers and two more Soft Skills for Verifiers sessions will be held in the Hutt Valley and in Northland.

Is everyone 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.

Specialist section for medium rare available

The specialist section for the food control plans that allows chefs to safely cook medium rare burgers and red meat specialities like steak tartare is now available.

The section was developed following calls from chefs for methods to keep medium rare burgers on the menu. The safe methods for preparing and cooking medium rare have been out for consultation to the food industry and territorial authorities.

We received 55 submissions.

The specialist section is an addition to our Food Control Plan templates, along with an updated page on the standard methods of cooking poultry, minced meat and chicken liver. 

Download the specialist section 

If you came across chefs making rare or medium rare dishes with red meat mince, please make sure they download these pages and add them to their Food Control Plan.

Thanks to everyone who helped with the speedy response to this issue.


TIps and information

Timetable for deemed businesses

A tip for verifiers - if you're working with a business on a deemed Food Control Plan, they don't have to register for the new Food Act until year 3 (i.e. apply before 30 November 2018)

They should be verified according to their existing plan and don't have to update their plan for Food Act requirements until they transition.

The business can transition earlier if they choose, but they can't be compelled to do this, unless there is a really significant amendment to their plan. 

Guidance for deemed businesses wanting to transition to the Food Act 2014 is coming soon.

Guidance for re-registration and transition problems

If you're having difficulty with businesses re-registering and transitioning to the new Food Act, we've released a Practice Note that gives guidance on how to manage this.

The Practice Note was developed in conjunction with the staff of several territorial authorities.

The Note recommends starting with communicating with the business to encourage voluntary compliance, before moving to notifying and warning them to register. As a final step the Note gives the enforcement options for businesses that haven't re-registered or transition. 

It also gives suggested timeframes for each section, but isn't intended to replace decision-making at local level.

ECE centres that don't need to register

If you're responding to a query from an ECE centre around registration, it's a good idea to check if the centre operates solely on government funding.

If they are solely government funded and there is no charge to attend, then there is no sale of food. This means the ECE centre is outside the scope of the Food Act, and does not need to register.

Other things that exempt an ECE centre from registering are if they:

• prepare and serve food that involves minimal handling. For example fruit, manufacture-produced food such as crackers and marmite, breakfast cereals, biscuits, muffins, scones, pikelets, breads and spreads (e.g. butter, jam, honey).

• prepare and serve food with the children participating as part of the existing curriculum programme. 

A centre does need to register for a National Programme 2 if they:

• charge a fee for children to attend. This includes fees in addition to government funding.

• prepares and serve foods/lunches such as meals, filled rolls, sandwiches (fillings such as cold meats, salad ingredients, hummus and the like) or reheating and serving pre-prepared food provided by others (e.g. pizzas and savouries).

Further information with examples of how the Food Act applies to ECE is on our website

Verification outcomes in the first round

As the first round of verifications happen under the new Food Act, don't be afraid to give a business an 'unacceptable outcome' with their first verification.

The Food Act is the biggest change to food safety in a generation and we're not expecting food businesses to get it right, or qualify for reduced verification, in the first round. 

So if you see something that makes you anxious about food safety in a business, do give them an 'unacceptable outcome' and go back to visit them.

We expect that most businesses will need to work their way up to the point where they are high performers and verification visits can be reduced.

YOUR HELP wanted

Help with importers requested

When you are helping food businesses to register, or verifying them, you may come across a business that also imports food.

Under the new Food Act, businesses importing food for sale must do this via a registered importer. They can be a registered importer themselves or use an agent who is registered. Registration is with MPI. 

Although we've been communicating this requirement over the past year, there are still quite a number who haven't registered.

When you're working with a food business who is also importing food, we'd really appreciate it if you could let the business know the requirements for importing food. Please direct them to our web page 

You might find the opportunity to talk with a business about importing when they are completing the Scope of Operations form. We'd be grateful for any help you can give on this issue.


Help with educating businesses about the Food Act

If come you across any food businesses that still thinks they only need a commercial kitchen to be a safe food business, we'd appreciate your help in informing them about the new Food Act.

As you know, the new Food Act's emphasis is what people need to do to make safe food, rather than the premises where they prepare it or the equipment they use.

The level of food safety risk determines whether they need a Food Control Plan or National Programme.

This is a useful webpage to show food businesses who may need more information about the new Food Act.


Tools for businesses

The Toolbox

The Toolbox for food businesses is now in production. The Toolbox will include lots of useful things that food businesses can use to achieve the outcomes in the Simply Safe and Suitable Plan, like posters, stickers, a staff card, record blanks and the allergy card game.

The Toolbox can be given free to new businesses when they register. After that, businesses will need to pay for re-orders of resources or the whole Toolbox. Existing businesses can also order and pay for the Toolbox.

Over the coming months we'll produce and distribute toolboxes to councils and businesses and we’ll be keen to hear your feedback. We'll keep you updated.

Simply Safe and Suitable Toolkit

We're currently working on a ‘Toolkit’ (working title), a book of guidance that will give food businesses ideas and options for implementing food safety processes in their workplace. The Toolkit is aimed at ‘hard to reach’ businesses, so has lots of clear illustrations and easy-to-follow process ideas for those with no time (or desire) for heavy reading and low literacy business operators.

We will be testing and developing the Toolkit with businesses and councils until the end of this year and launching it to add in the Toolbox in the not-too-distant future.