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21 December 2017

National programme guidance milestone

Publication of national programme guidance means that all food businesses in New Zealand are now covered by easy-to-follow guidance or other measures to help them manage food safety risks.

Like the Simply Safe & Suitable template the guidance is designed in the successful 'Know, Do, Show' format. As you know, the ‘Show’ part links to what a food business must demonstrate to their verifier.

The guidance gives both businesses and verifiers something to reference during a verification. It's important to note that a business is not required to follow the guidance. It should only be used by businesses and verifiers as a guide on how to meet requirements.

To help verifiers apply the guidance, we've created a set of symbols linked to verification topics that you'll find on the bottom of relevant 'Show' pages.

Thank you for the feedback you provided on the test guidance. Along with comments from food businesses, it helped us shape the final documents. 

National programme 1

National programme 2

National programme 3


Thanks for your help this year!

This is the last Food News for 2017 – and we’ve packed in quite a bit of summer reading for you! Or it might be a good read when you get back from your break.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from all of us at MPI.

It has been another massive year of hard work for everyone involved in implementing the Food Act, and we’d like to say huge thanks for all your help, suggestions and even criticism (or, as we like to look at it, suggestions for improvement!!). We look forward to working with you in 2018 to make some of those great suggestions a reality.

We hope you all have an opportunity for a great break, and a well-deserved chance to relax.

See you next year!

Verifiers' Academy poised to go

In the last issue of Food News we talked about the Food Act Verifiers' Academy. It will be a channel through which verifiers can access and exchange resources and expertise, and guidance on performance expectations, alongside developing a stronger professional network.

There'll be an array of practical tools such as a case study library, capability framework, podcasts, videos and pre-recorded webinars.

This first phase of development has focused on materials for people new to verification who are preparing for witness assessment.

The Academy will be located on MPI’s online learning management system – Tiritiri.

We aim to upload content by 31 December (while you're at the beach) and we'll provide you with a full update in the New Year, including access details.

IMPORTANT information

Scope of Operations improvements

We’ve heard your feedback on the Scope of Operations forms, so we’re trying a new approach in conjunction with the updates to the “Where do I Fit” tool to incorporate the National Programme Guidance.

For a start we’re making it shorter!!

There'll be a different version of the Scope of Operations form for each kind of RBM (national programmes and food control plans) that only contain the sectors allowed under that RBM. And to make things easier on your end -  each question now has the corresponding MAPS sector/product number under it.

The first few updates to ‘Where do I Fit’, including introducing the shorter Scope of Operations forms will go live in a soft release before Christmas (with more updates to come in the New Year). So, you may start to see a few different Scope of Operations forms coming in over the next few weeks and we'd love to hear your feedback about whether the changes are making it easier for both food businesses and you.

These won’t be the last changes we make – but we’re hoping they’re a step in the right direction. Let us know what you think – and what else you think we could try.

FARF Updates from meeting of 28 Nov

The Food Act Regulators Forum met for their final meeting of this year. FARF is a nominated group of co-regulatory organisations from across New Zealand, who provide a wide range of services to food businesses under the Food Act 2014. Here are highlights of interest to registration authorities, evaluators, verifiers and food safety officers:

Practice Notes
Some new Practice Notes are being developed.  Practice Notes are guides for co-regulatory partners to develop their own processes for delivering Food Act duties and services for food businesses.  They can be relevant for verifiers, food safety officers, and registration authorities – or sometimes all of these.

  Here’s what’s currently in the pipeline:   
• Shared services between territorial authorities
• How to approach verifying multi-site businesses
• Verification timeframes – how to fit it all in

Registering wholesale businesses

An area we know registration authorities find challenging, is how to register businesses who supply other businesses - when does a food service or retail activity become a wholesale activity? 

While no date has yet been set, next year the food control plan - food service and food retail (aka March 2017 version) - will stop being available for new registrations. The Food Act doesn't define ‘wholesale’, and at this stage, we don’t want to define it.  Businesses come in many shapes and sizes, and definitions create hard boundaries that are rarely a good fit in the real world.  Instead we want to help registration, verification and enforcement staff to be more confident they know what are the important factors to consider, so they can make good decisions. 

MPI will soon be publishing guidance on the key things we want you to take in to account, along with some helpful case studies.

Small Businesses & Market Stalls
Small businesses are often naturally very conscious about costs.  As more of them transition to the Food Act, we’re hearing concerns about affording the costs they can face.  This is especially acute for business sectors that are experiencing food regulation for the first time.  You may have seen recent media about small market stall operators in Te Horo, which will not be unique. 

The Food Act provides us more ways than ever before to enable businesses to comply.  We have started looking at where monitoring and surveillance programmes could provide sufficient assurance so that individual business verification is not required.  Also, whether modern wearable technologies could allow for new approaches to verification in some businesses (see the story below).

The Minister for Food Safety has asked MPI to explore other ways to reduce costs, and is interested in how councils have managed markets in the past, and whether any councils are implementing differential fee structures for markets under the new Act. MPI will be writing to councils to ask for some more information. Expect more on this topic over the coming months.

Communication approaches
FARF are keen to improve how all co-regulators communicate with each other.  One distinction they think is important, is communicating on operational matters, separately to changes to how operations are carried out.  It is important to share information about good operational practices, improving national co-ordination, and new issues that may arise.  Decisions and uncertainty about new or changing services are also important, but quite different. 

FARF want to make sure there are good ways for both these types of communication to happen, and all those who should be involved, are actively engaged.  Thank you to those Territorial Authorities you who took the time to reply to the recent national survey on their implementation experiences, which closed last week.  We look forward to sharing the findings with you, and using them to enhance how co-regulators communicate and support each other.

National Outcomes
Led by Judith Robertson from Gisborne District Council, a FARF working group have started considering what would make good National Outcomes for TA functions and duties.  It’s still very early days, and there will be ample opportunity for all TAs to get involved next year.  National Outcomes will help everyone, from the public to businesses to be more confident the right things are being achieved.  At its highest level, the areas discussed so far include:
• Businesses know what they must do
• Businesses can do what they need to do
• Businesses do what they need to do
• Services for businesses are fair and transparent.

Hemp seeds as food - sale not legal yet

We've received a number of queries about when hemp seeds can be legally sold as food in New Zealand.

Although the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code allowing the sale of hemp seed as food comes into effect on 12 November 2017, this is only one of the law changes needed to enable sale of hemp seeds as food in New Zealand.

To enable the Code changes to take effect in New Zealand we also have to make changes to the Misuse of Drugs (Industrial Hemp) Regulations 2006 and the Food Act 2014. This work is underway but will take time. (Hemp seed oil is exempt and will continue to be able to be sold). 

This means that hemp seeds won't be able to be legally sold here as food until somewhere between July and October 2018.

Here's a link to our website that explains it.

We'll keep you updated as things progress.

Field trials for remote verification

Verification costs for small and remote businesses can be impacted by the time it takes to travel to do an on-site verification. In turn businesses can become concerned if the total cost of compliance starts to impact on their viability.

With modern technology such as ‘augmented reality’ and ‘wearable technology’ creating opportunities to help tackle issues like remote locations, we’re starting to explore whether there are new models of how verification services can be provided, potentially at lower cost.

In February and March next year we’ll be working with a few volunteer verifiers and businesses to conduct field trials of some high potential equipment.  At this early stage, we’re keen to find out more about what the practical challenges might be. 

The initial trials will concentrate on lower risk businesses, and will compare a remote verification with an on-site verification. As well as looking at the technological feasibility, we’ll also carefully consider the attitudes and behaviours of both operator and verifier in the remote verification scenario.

Once any viable options are identified, advanced field trials may follow.

For these field trials we’ll be selecting a small number of verifiers to be part of the project team.

If you’re a recognised national programme verifier who is excited about the potential of new technology, love working with others to solve problems, and would like to apply to work with us on this project, please email chris.hewins@mpi.govt.nz before 12 January 2018.

Record blanks available

We've now replaced the Starter Toolkit on our website with new record blanks for food businesses. 

The blanks are designed to work with the Simply Safe & Suitable template and follow the template workflow. Examples include things like Staff Training Records, Fridge/Chiller Temperature Checks, Cleaning Records and much more. The blanks also work with the new national programme guidance.

Of course, businesses can keep records in many other ways, including email, photographs of whiteboards, paper records, datalog files and more.

But the record blanks with their examples of how they can be filled out, should be a useful tool for businesses who want to use them.

Register for the Food Act campaign

Our 'Register for the Food Act' ad campaign will be underway from mid-January 2018.

There are over 10,000 food businesses who need to register for the Food Act by 31 March 2018. To date we are tracking well with over 7000 registered against a target of 10,400 – 12,800.

You've done great work contacting a whole range of food businesses reminding them to register. We also been out to a range of industry bodies asking them to spread the word among their members. As well, there's been the workshops we've co-hosted with you and some workshops and webinars we've held with industry bodies.

But, as you'll know, it can be hard to reach the small, online and English as a second language businesses. Much of our campaign is designed to target these businesses with translated ads in ethnic print, radio and social media channels. We are also emphasising online advertising. 

The ads use food imagery to illustrate the date (see illustration) or remind businesses not to 'get into hot water' or not to 'end up in the soup' and advise them to register. You may find more enquiries coming your way as a result of the campaign.

QUICK tips

Data clean up needed in MAPS

In December last year we made a change in MAPS to limit which sectors you can select when registering a template food control plan.

We did this to help clarify what businesses can do under a template Food Control Plan (FCP).  At the time, we asked you to clean up the template FCP registrations that had extra sectors not on the list below.

If you haven’t had a chance to clean-up existing registrations, you’ll now find that renewals of those registrations will result in an error.  This means your batch files will not upload until you’ve cleaned up the sector data.

These are sectors available to be used for template FCPs:


  • Food retail sector where food businesses prepare or manufacture and sell food
  • Food service sector
  • Retailers that handle food
  • Bakeries that prepare or manufacture bread
  • Food service provided to pre-school children
  • Retailers of manufacturer-packaged chilled or frozen food
  • Retailers of hot beverages
  • Exempt (Schedule 3).

And remember that template FCPs should only have the following processes of interest:

  • Acidification (under certain circumstances only)
  • Fermentation (under certain circumstances only)
  • Handling chilled RTE products
  • Holding at serving temperature
  • Processing chilled RTE products
  • Reheating
  • Slow or low temperature cooking.

If you have any questions about this, contact your local government liaison team member, or, for MAPS specific questions, contact MAPS.Support@mpi.govt.nz

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