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20 March 2018

Opting Up

We understand that at times councils have recommended that businesses ‘opt up’ and register for a template Food Contol Plan (FCP) when they would technically fall under one of the National Programmes. This may be suitable where a business is in one of the National Programme retail or food services sectors, but it can open a business up to an unnecessary level of verification.

It is also important to consider whether the template FCP has the right content that explains how to manage the food safety risks specific to the business and you have the necessary competency to verify a business that might be undertaking processes that you are unfamiliar with, before allowing a business to opt up.

For example, if a distiller of vodka wanted to opt up from National Programme Level 3 to the template FCP it would probably be inappropriate. The template does not contain information about how to distil spirits safely and a verifier of the FCP template does not necessarily know enough about the distillation process to be able to verify that the process is working properly.

To help verifiers to ensure they have the right competencies, we launched our Food Verifiers Academy which features a range of practical tools such as case studies, a capability framework, podcasts, videos and pre-recorded webinars. There are some useful resources in the capability framework, which describes areas of capability, skills, knowledge and indicators of proficient practice that professional verifiers should exhibit. Register for the Academy here.



Verifying Rest Homes

When registering and verifying rest homes, it’s important to remember that while they may be registering with the Food Act for the first time this doesn’t necessarily mean that they should be considered a new business as they may have been in operation for several years.

This distinction is important as new businesses are verified within 6 weeks of opening, while existing businesses are verified within a year of registering under the Food Act.

Verifying an existing rest home business as a new business adds an unnecessary level of verification and costs on these businesses. 

In addition, rest homes are also audited by the Ministry of Health (MoH) on a regular basis and this usually covers all aspects of their operation, including food preparation. MPI and MoH are working with the New Zealand Aged Care Association and the Care Association of New Zealand to see whether there’s a way to reduce the verification load on these businesses.



Section 40 Template

A section 40 template is like a custom Food Contol Plan (FCP), but aimed at specific groups such as industry bodies or franchise businesses who want to develop a template plan that is tailored to the specific food safety needs of a particular industry or business. For example, an industry body could develop a section 40 template that all their members could use instead of individual members having to create their own FCPs.

A section 40 template must identify the food safety risks involved in what the business is doing and show how those risks are managed. The plan is evaluated and approved by MPI for 3 years, but the usual verification frequency for the relevant food sector applies (e.g. if a section 40 for horticultural production was approved, the verification frequency would be as for NP1).

Once approved, section 40 templates become a legal document. Before a template is approved, MPI will need to evaluate any applications to ensure that the template has been developed in a way that effectively manages food safety. As part of this process, we will hold a public consultation on the application, and feedback received during consultation will be taken into consideration before we make our decision.

So far, MPI has received several section 40 template applications and is in the process of evaluating these. The first of these applications from BIANZ is being consulted on now, with more to follow shortly.

100+ Active Users for Food Verifiers' Academy

The Verifiers’ Academy launched in January and already has close to 100 active users! Thanks for your positive feedback and the great suggestions for additional resources. Please keep the ideas and comments coming. Your input and readiness to share your expertise will ensure the Academy is a relevant and valuable tool both for and by verifiers.

Last week we launched two forums within the Knowledge Hub. One forum is focused on Professional Practice, the second on Technical Practice matters. These forums will work alongside and feed into the searchable FAQ documents.

Forums are an excellent way to share your expertise, get answers to queries from other professionals and to engage in useful conversations with others doing the same work.

If you are not already using the Academy, get involved and register now. Contact the Academy at: verifieracademy@mpi.govt.nz

Receiving Chilled Foods

We have heard that there have been some instances of early childhood centres refusing to accept their food deliveries from their supermarket because the food hasn’t been as cold as expected at the time of delivery.

If food deliveries aren’t as cold as expected, this doesn’t necessary mean that the food is unsafe so long as the food has been appropriately chilled during delivery e.g. in a chilled food truck. If this is the case, food can be received at temperatures slightly higher than 5°C (say 7°C) so long as the 2 hour / 4 hour rule is followed.

This means:

  • Any food that’s been above 5°C for less than 2 hours can be put into the fridge/freezer and stored and used, or sold as usual.
  • Any food that’s been above 5°C for up to 4 hours can be served (if ready-to-eat), sold, or cooked to 75°C.
  • If the food is above 5°C for 4 hours or more, throw it out.

We recommend that verifiers encourage early childhood centres to have a conversation with the person delivering their food, to check that the food has been appropriately chilled during delivery and that the above guidelines apply. If so, then it’s safe for them to receive their food.

Read more about this in the National Programme Guidance cards on ‘Sourcing, Receiving and tracing food’, and ‘Safe storage and display’.


Food Safety Training for Businesses – What’s Required

When you’re helping food businesses with registration and figuring out what they need to do to produce safe food, it’s also a good idea to remind businesses that they need to look at the level of training their employees currently have and what they might need.

It’s important that people know how to keep food safe when doing their particular job. If available, relevant training could be provided in-house, for example by the chef or business owner, or it could be provided through a food safety training provider.

It is up to the business owner to decide what type of training is most appropriate for their business, so long as their employees have the right food safety skills needed. However, some processes and equipment will need employees to take specialised training, for example heat treatment processes such as UHT.

Template FCPs and National Programmes don’t specify what training is required, but we have provided guidance on training requirements in the following documents:

We understand that your council may already have bylaws in place, outlining training requirements. If you are dealing with a business that has not moved across to the Food Act yet, then these bylaws will still apply to this business. If you are dealing with a business that has moved over to the Food Act 2014, the bylaw doesn’t apply as it is contradictory to Food Act 2014 requirements, so this business must follow the training requirements as outlined in the above template and guidance material.

Update on InformationLeader

Ongoing work and testing of our verification and enforcement online system – InformationLeader has revealed that there are security concerns with opening up this system publicly, so we have made the decision to move this to a different platform. The verification and enforcement system will now be built in Salesforce, which is also the platform used to capture Food Act registration data.

For the meantime, please continue to use the existing spreadsheets for your verification and enforcement results.

We’ll keep you in the loop on our progress to move this system to the Salesforce programme as we go.

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