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26 April 2017

Year one registrations

We've heard from most councils that Food Act registrations are going really well - that's excellent. Just a plug to get your registrations into MAPS as soon as you can. We'll be doing some media to publicise the number of businesses registered, so it would be great to have up to date numbers.

ECE registrations

Have any councils not yet contacted ECEs in their area? If you haven't, or you're having any trouble getting groups to register, please let us know. We can provide communications templates or other resources, or work with you to try and address any problems.

Where do I fit? Clarifications

A few of you have asked MPI to share more of the decisions we make, around issues like where businesses fit under the Food Act. We are looking for a new way to collate a 'database' of decisions. In the meantime, we'll share more of them here, on LinkedIn and Health Protect. (There are some below).


Have your say on proposed honey rules

MPI’s three year mānuka honey science programme has developed a scientific definition to authenticate New Zealand mānuka honey. The definition is part of a consultation package on new requirements for exporting bee products.

Consultation is open until 5pm 23 May 2017 and meetings are being held around the country. 


What do those on VIP need to do to update their template?

What should those on VIP do if they wish to change to a newer version of the template? Do they need to register under the Food Act 2014 before updating their plan? Or can they change plans before registering?

We've told businesses using the December 2015 template that they can start using the new one straight away, and tell their registration authority at their next registration. (Since the new template was issued by us and the update is required by law, we don't think this should count as a significant amendment.) However, this may be different for those on VIP, as they are not yet working under the new Food Act.

The decision ultimately rests with the registration authority, but it would help to get a consensus. Please let us know what you think? We have also posted a discussion on LinkedIn.

Get your Food Safety Officer applications in!

Well done to the large number of people who have completed the FSO eLearning modules and face-to-face training. You are well on the way to having everything you need to be appointed, and MPI is looking forward receiving lots of applications soon.

It’s important to get appointed as soon as you can because you can only use new Food Act 2014 powers, such as issuing infringements and improvement notices, if you are a Food Safety Officer. These are not available to deemed Food Safety Officers, as there were no similar powers under the old Food Act.

Here are some tips and tricks for completing your FSO Field Evidence Log:

  • use comparable experience in other fields to demonstrate investigator skills, such as interview planning and site visits.
  • demonstrate your knowledge of food investigation techniques, such as procuring a food sample and correct labelling and taping of an exhibit, by working through a scenario exercise.
  • take advantage of the knowledge in your cluster group by working through a scenario together.

If you have any questions about your FSO application, contact michael.webster@mpi.govt.nz   


Food delivery - 2 hour/ 4 hour rule

We've heard that some verifiers are requiring businesses to reject food delivery if it is not below 5°C. This is not consistent with the risk-based approach. Verifiers should apply the 2 hour/ 4 hour rule. Food can be kept between 5°C and 60°C for up to 2 hours (if it's put back in the fridge) or up to 4 hours (if it's cooked or eaten straight away).

Repackaging food

There's been a lot of discussion about where repackaging food fits under the Act.

Repackaging products for wholesale should fit under the same risk-based measure as making that product. For example, repackaging lollies fits under NP2, along with manufacturers of confectionary.

However, those who repackage food for retail sale (at a dairy for example) fit under NP3 - 'retailers who handle food'. This category is meant only for those who sell food directly to consumers.

Cheese boards

There has also recently been some confusion about where cheese boards fit under the Food Act. We apologise to anyone who has received the wrong information! To clarify, cheese boards fit under a national programme 3 - 'retailers who handle food'.

The rationale behind this comes from their relationship with the Animal Products Act. Cheese boards do not require an RMP under the APA, which allows greater flexibility as to where they fit under the Food Act. Cheese boards involve handling food, rather than making it, making them NP3. Serving bowls of nuts, olives and other similar bar snacks also fits into this category. 

Businesses can sell food before verification

A reminder that businesses can start selling food prior to getting verified. A new business can legally sell food after they have registered under the Food Act, but before their first verification visit.



Can business wholesale under a national programme?

Yes. Businesses can export and wholesale under a national programme, if that's the relevant risk-based measure for their product. They don't need a food control plan.

The exception is products (like meat or dairy) that can only be exported under the Animal Products Act. Destination countries may also have their own requirements.

Verification frequency for deemed businesses

We’ve had some queries about deemed FCP businesses that are currently on an 18 month verification frequency. What happens to this frequency when they register a custom food control plan under the Food Act 2014? As an existing business, they must be verified within 6 months of registration. If the outcome is acceptable, the business can continue to be verified at an 18 month frequency.


Changes to allergens in the Food Standards Code

Upcoming changes to the Food Standards Code will see Lupin added as an allergen with mandatory labelling requirements. The changes are due to become law in May this year, and there will be a 12 month transitionary period.

This change will mean our template FCPs (March 2017 and Simply Safe & Suitable), and some guidance material, will need to be amended. It is possible the template amendments will have to be made at the same time as the Code standard comes into effect, so could happen quite quickly (in the next month or two). We will confirm this as soon as we have legal clarification.

Read more on the Food Standards website 

Help for custom food control plans

At MPI, we've been thinking of ways to help businesses, especially small businesses, who need to create a custom food control plan. At the moment, they can already use any relevant sections of the template that apply to them, and should not need a desk-top evaluation for those sections (since they are pre-evaluated by MPI).

We intend to add further examples of 'validated procedures' that businesses could pick up and use.

We will supplement this with guidance to let businesses know when and how they can reduce their evaluation. This could include all sites being the same, or for those with an FSP, having recently had a successful verification.

Are there any other ideas we should consider? Please let us know. 

Exemption fees

A few of you have told us that you know of organisations that might be eligible for an exemption, but would find the cost of applying prohibitive. We are thinking of ways to address this, such as waiving the fee for initial cases. This would help build a library of examples to help people decide if they are likely to be successful. We could apply this to all applications in a certain time period, or just to applications referred to us by councils (this could help ensure we assess applications that are more likely to meet the criteria). 

What do you think? Do you have cases you would like us to assess, and would this approach help?