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7 July 2017

Food News Special

Medium rare safely on the menu

Welcome to this special edition of Food News where we cover the positive actions we're taking about cooking medium rare burgers, preview the welcome launch of InformationLeader and release of National Programme Guidance..

As you'll know there was a lot of publicity and social media around a chef in the Bay of Islands believing that he needed to take a medium rare burger off his menu.

Far North District Council verifier gave the chef three options for dealing with the burger, including developing a Custom Food Control Plan. First off we'd like to say that the verifier was correct in her actions and recommendations and we are happy to stand behind her.

To help with the industry enquiries about whether chefs can continue to serve medium-rare burgers and what modifications to their processes might be needed, we've decided to do two things.

  1. To create a set of interim tips for cooking medium rare burgers safely. These tips don't have legal status but will mean that medium rare cooking can safely be continued. These tips are on our website  (look for the item at the bottom of the web page)
  2. We're moving quickly to develop a special template section on cooking medium rare burgers and other red meat specialities like beef tartare. We've selected a group of chefs and other specialists to work on the safe processes. The new burger section will be part of the Simply Safe and Suitable template, We will consult with chefs on it and expect to have it finished in about two months time.

Please note we are working to a short timeline on this item – consultation windows are limited due to the election so we are working towards having the consultation on the new section completed before the House rises in mid-August. This means there will be a shortened consultation period – please look out for this at the end of July.

Our Simply Safe and Suitable template was developed to cover a very broad range of food businesses and give people the standards for keeping food safe. But we are always happy to look at issues in food businesses where our standard template doesn't cater for an industry need. If you see any particular issues emerging we'd be pleased to hear from you.

Release of National Programme guidance

You'll be aware that we had planned release of National Programme Guidance on 1 July. Unfortunately more than half of the team (including the key sign-off people) working on finalising and releasing this guidance had to be pulled on to working on the medium rare burger issue. This has delayed the release of this guidance – but you can expect to see it next week.

Important information FOR VERIFIERS

Dealing with medium rare

As a verifier you might find you get enquiries from chefs about cooking medium rare burgers, or in the course of your verifications find a burger cooking method that lies outside the template guidelines.

If either of these things happen, please refer the chef to the interim tips and let the chef know that we are working quickly on a specialist section covering medium rare burgers and other red meat specialities. It is important also to say that chefs are involved in the development of these guidelines and they will be consulted on.

Of course, the chef can still also work on their own Custom Food Control Plan or cook burgers within the Simply Safe and Suitable template standard. 

If you have any questions about this approach please contact us.

InformationLeader LAUNCH


We’re pleased to say that the online system for sending verification and enforcement results to MPI will be live at the beginning of August.

Many verifiers and food safety officers throughout the country have helped with the testing of InformationLeader in the past months. Thank you for your input and suggestions. Apart from system-to-system uploading which we’re scheduled for development, we’ve incorporated all your suggestions in the system. Your suggestions can be seen in the functionality list below.

InformationLeader allows you to enter your verification and enforcement results into an easy-to-use online form. This replaces the spreadsheets, which you have been using. Our testing has found that it’s simpler and quicker to use than the spreadsheets. The InformationLeader functionality, developed as a result of user testing, will allow you to:

• run a report on a business’s compliance history. This includes getting on a mobile business operating in your area that is registered/verified by someone else
• run searches based on next audit date to assist with scheduling verifications
• run searches based on range of criteria to understand local trends
• prompt you about verification requirements (e.g. the correct outcome for non-compliance during  an audit).

We know that some larger councils and third party agencies would like to upload their data system-to-system, without individual inputting. As soon as InformationLeader is live, we’ll start working on this feature. We think we should be able to deliver it in about six months’ time. We’ll keep you updated with progress.

There’s plenty of support available to help as you learn the system. There’s online information about how to use the system and a helpdesk email address for technical problems IL-help@mpi.govt.nz. We’ll also be offering group webinars and individual skype sessions – if you’d like to take part in one of these sessions please contact verification.monitoring@mpi.govt.nz for the verification sessions and enforcement.monitoring@mpi.govt.nz for the enforcement sessions.

We welcome your questions or comments. Please contact Susanna Barris if you have any immediate needs E: susanna.barris@mpi.govt.nz P:04 894 2644.