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21 December 2016

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas and happy New Year from all of us at MPI. We'd like to say a massive thank you to everyone involved in the Food Act! It's involved a huge amount of hard work this year - and there will be more to come in 2017. We hope you all have a great break, and a well-deserved chance to relax!


How are we communicating with businesses?

The deadline for some businesses to register under the Food Act is coming up. We know councils will be busy communicating directly with businesses, and we're also putting messages out in a number of ways. This includes communication via industry bodies and magazines, social media, and press release. We are also finalising plans for some advertising in the new year. We will be able to give more details about this in January.

Please let us know if there are any resources you need to help you communicate with businesses, or if there's anything you'd like us to do to raise awareness of Food Act deadlines. 

We've published this web page to help businesses decide if they need to register by March.

Here's a reminder of some other resources that might be useful:


Key dates

Here's a reminder of some key dates in 2017:

  • 1 March onwards: FCP Businesses that registered from 1 March 2016 will need to renew their registration. This needs to happen prior to their anniversary date.
  • 31 March: Food businesses in the first year of transition should have applied for registration
  • 30 June: Food businesses in the first year of transition should now be registered (but might still need to have their first verification under the new rules)
  • 30 June: Food businesses in second year of transition should begin moving to the new regime

Existing vs new businesses

Just a reminder that not all businesses registering under food law for the first time are new businesses. Any business operating prior to March 2016 should be treated as an existing business. This applies to those like early childhood education centres that were not previously registered under the Food Act. It also applies to other businesses, like market stalls.  

This means that they should be registered at the same time as the rest of their sector. It also means they should be verified on the time scale of an existing business.


Food Act Regulators Forum

The new Food Act Regulators Forum had their first meeting this month. The group brings together MPI and council representatives to help coordinate the implementation of the Food Act.

Outcomes of the first meeting will be made available early in the new year, along with a list of forum members.

In the meantime, the forum asked that MPI communicate some of the reasons why we aren’t able to simply recognise councils to undertake National Programme verification. For those who are interested, you can read more on the LinkedIn forum.

If you haven't already, join the LinkedIn group


Fair and affordable verification: finding solutions

Work to increase the affordability and availability of verifiers continues! A couple of weeks ago, we let you know what we'd proposed to the Minister. One resource we have agreed to create is a guide for how long verification is likely to take at different types of businesses. Many of you should by now have been asked to give us your feedback on this. If you haven't seen it, here is the draft. Please give us your feedback as soon as possible, as we will publish it before Christmas. (We will accept comments in the new year and make changes if necessary. But once the information is published it creates expectations with our stakeholders so, if you can, please send us comments ASAP).

Below are the other solutions we have agreed to pursue. We will give more details as they develop.

In the meantime, if a business is unable to find a verifier, please continue to register them. Councils can include themselves as the verifier if they are going through the process of becoming recognised. Alternatively, you can contact MPI and we will organise their verification.

  • National programme guidance (in January)
  • Interactive map of verifiers around the country, to help businesses locate a verifier in their area (ASAP)
  • MPI to help arrange verification as a last resort, where businesses cannot find an affordable verifier in their area (starting now)
  • Fast-track process for recognition. Details of what this will look like have not been finalised. But it will be open to all verifiers, and will still require them to show they have the right skills and knowledge. We hope it will help to enable more council staff to verify national programmes.
  • Training programme for verifiers

How to become recognised - new web page

New information for 'how to become a recognised agency or person' is now available on the MPI website. The updated page includes a step by step process for becoming recognised, as both an agency and a person. It includes guidance on developing a QMS and details to help you understand how it will be assessed. It also includes details of what is required to verify different types of risk-based measures.

View web page

Tips to improve QMS assessment

As more verifiers go through the process of becoming recognised, there are some tips we can give to help improve your chances of success. One common reason for not passing recognised person assessment is the continued use of an 'inspection' approach (i.e. replacing inspection of “floors, walls & ceilings” with an inspection of records). While checking a business' records plays a part, this alone does not constitute a verification. Verification requires a 'show me, tell me' approach, where you ask operators questions and get them to demonstrate how they manage food safety.


We want to make sure this newsletter gives you the information you need to do your job. If there's anything specific you'd like to see addressed in this newsletter, please let us know, and we'll try our best to include it! Contact Naomi - naomi.landau@mpi.govt.nz