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17 November 2017

Last day for 'How can we support you' survey

Last month we emailed Environmental Health teams (or their equivalents) with the Food Act Survey: How can we support you better?

The survey follows on from the Readiness Survey in 2014 when we asked about your readiness for the Food Act.

With the current version, you have the opportunity to tell us how the implementation of the Act is going for your council, and how we can support you better. It will only take about 20 minutes to complete.

Today is the last day for responses. Everyone completed the 2014 survey and we hope you'll all respond to this one. 

It's a privilege to work with you and your feedback matters to us.

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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.

Phasing out the food service and food retail template FCP

In the last issue of Food News we gave a heads up that we're working towards the user friendly Simply Safe & Suitable template being the only template food control plan.

Phasing out the plan is based on feedback from businesses and verifiers.  We’ve heard it has been confusing having two template FCPs available and we’ve received positive feedback about the Simply Safe & Suitable template.

We've had a few questions about the phasing out of the longer food service and food retail template. It's important to note that we are looking at options to retire the older template, but haven't yet set the date. We'll take into account that some businesses switched over to the latest versions of food service and retail earlier this year.

We’ll keep you informed as the phasing out exercise progresses.


IMPORTANT information

Latest FARF Updates

Updates from the Food Act Regulators Forum meeting of 26 October 2017:

1. Want to provide National Programme verification services to your communities?  Concerned about developing Quality Management System?  Unsure where to start and what’s involved?  Auckland Council and Food & Health Standards Ltd are writing guidance based on what they’ve learned that they hope will help other councils know what to do and how to develop a successful system.  It will emailed to all regulatory managers and team leaders shortly.

2. The Food Act ‘Verifier Academy’ is developing well.  When it's launched within the next couple of months, it will create a place for verifiers to go to guide their learning and development and help develop a stronger sense of professional pride.  Centred around a capability framework, verifiers will be able to plan and search for training providers.  There will be support for new verifiers, as well as for managers of verifiers.  Some topic based videos and podcasts are also being made that will help verifiers adapt to the new legislation.  Once launched, the Academy will continue to be developed as it becomes a central tool to support all verifiers in their valuable role.

3. A new Practice Note for verifiers is being written.  It will help guide verifiers to balance their time during a verification.  On site times for some businesses are not long - especially for lower risk businesses and those who are performing well. From mandatory topics to feeding back your overall outcome, this guide will aim to help verifiers fit it all in. 

4. FARF discussed the long awaited National Programme guidance that was recently out for testing.  Their feedback, along with lots of other helpful comments received, is being carefully considered by the team at MPI.  The final versions will be launched and ready for use by the end of November.

Call for Verification Case Studies

Have you written a case study on an interesting or challenging verification situation?

If so, would you be prepared to send us a copy so we can add it to the online Case Study Library we are developing for the Verifiers Academy? Alongside some of the case studies, we will be providing a discussion guide for teams and managers. This will be a valuable learning resource for verifiers across the country.

If you send us your case studies, we will edit them to ensure there is no identifying information related to you or your client.

Questions and case studies can be sent to Annette Dow – Annette.dow@mpi.govt.nz or phone: 04-830-1525

Toolbox next steps

Thanks to all of you who came to the Toolbox workshop on 30 October. There was a huge response and over the next few weeks we'll go through all the feedback and redesign the Toolbox to test with more businesses. We'll also send each council a Toolbox to get your thoughts.

The Toolbox has been created as a resource, particularly for hard-to-reach businesses who may have low literacy levels or poor English, to make food safety easier to get right. The resources won't suit every business but the range of materials from videos to posters and stickers to educational card games, should mean that there's plenty to fit different learning styles and environments.

Businesses on other programmes and plans will also be able use the resources.

We've also started work on guidance information to provide more in depth coverage to accompany the Simply Safe & Suitable template. We'll be consulting with you about this project.

Practice notes for online compliance and contracting

Practice note for online compliance

These days many new food businesses are using social media to sell their products. But even if a business is online, it still needs to deliver safe and suitable food to their customers.

Online businesses can be challenging to find and to make sure they are complying with the Food Act. Practice note 3 provides basic guidance for Food Safety Officers who are investigating online food businesses.

Practice note for contracting

Historically, many Territorial Authorities have contracted out a variety of regulatory functions. The Food Act 2014 introduced some constraints about which functions can be contracted to third parties.

Practice note 4 sets out guidance on what functions or responsibilities can be contracted out and those that cannot. 

The practice notes are live documents so if you see opportunities for improvement please contact michael.webster@mpi.ogvt.nz

Seeking your help with food business survey

We're using Colmar Brunton Research to repeat the telephone business survey of food businesses to gauge their awareness and attitudes to the Food Act 2014. The survey will happen between 7 November and 18 December.

This is the third time the survey has been done. It helps us better understand how the implementation of the Food Act is going, including how we can encourage businesses to comply.

We'd appreciate your help in encouraging your local food businesses to participate, if they are contacted by Colmar Brunton. For instance, it would be great if you alerted local food businesses to the survey in your regular communications to them.

QUICK tips

Template food control plans available for purchase

We're pleased to say that you can now buy A5 print versions of the English and translated versions of the Simply Safe & Suitable template directly from our print company.

The print copies are $9.00 (plus GST) each and delivery is a flat fee of $9.50 (plus GST) for any quantity. 

Place your orders here 

Each council is entitled to one free order of the translated FCPs via MPI, rather than the link above. If you haven't yet placed your one order, please email foodactinfo@mpi.govt.nz and specify the language/s and quantity you need (Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, Thai, Korean, Vietnamese, Cambodian, Hindi). Please include your name and delivery address.

Deemed Food Control Plan webpage

As you'll know food businesses on a deemed food control plan have until 30 November 2018 to register for the Food Act 2014.

They can choose to transition early if they want, and may have a number of options when they do. From a processing point of view it would be useful if some applications were spread across the year.

To assist we now have a webpage, which outlines the options for those on a deemed plan to transition to plans and programmes under the Food Act. We hope this will be a useful resource to use with businesses who are considering transitioning early.

Close out dates for Approvals applications

The MPI office will be closed from 23rd December 2017, and will open again on 3rd January 2018.

If we receive correctly completed Food Act applications by Thursday 30th November 2017, we'll try to process them before Christmas.   Any applications received after that date may not be approved until the New Year.

Approvals emails will not be monitored from the 23rd December until we open again on Wednesday 3rd January. We will advise contact details for anything urgent during the close down period.

Lupin guidance published

We've recently published the new mandatory allergen guidance about lupin, on our website.

The guidance covers the key features of lupin, where it is found, and what food businesses need to do if their food contains it.

We are keen to get feedback on the guidance before it is finalised. Please email your comments to lisa.horsman@mpi.govt.nz

Seeking help with importers

We still have a shortfall in the numbers who need to register to import food. Importers are a group where it can be hard to reach the individuals and small businesses engaged in food importing.

Sometimes the small importer can be a person such as a cafe, restaurant or grocery owner who imports ingredients for themselves or their community. If you come across any food businesses who are also importing food we'd greatly appreciate your help in directing them to our webpage with information on how to register as a food importer.


Update on customer registration journey

Last issue we told you that we’re working on ways to make the online customer registration journey easier.

As a first step in this long term project we’re looking at three areas:

• Enhancing the Where Do I Fit tool
• Making sure that customers get only the relevant parts of the national programme guidance (as is currently done with the online tool for the Simply Safe & Suitable template)
• Making sure that users answer only the right parts of the Scope of Operations form.

We’ll keep you informed as work progresses. In the meantime if you have any questions talk to Tanya, Damien or Maggie.