After a long and often bitter passage through Parliament, the Food Act 2014 was finally passed and comes into force on 1 March this year. The new legislation will require food businesses, including supermarkets and stores, to make some changes to their practices in order to meet the new food safety requirements.
While new businesses started after 1 March 2016 will have to comply with the entirety of the new legislation before even being allowed to open, existing businesses will have longer to meet the requirements. Most supermarkets and retail grocery stores will need to meet the full standards by the transition period of 1 July 2017 to 30 June 2018.
The stated purpose of the Act is to improve food safety in New Zealand. This is crucial to protect people’s health (we have a surprisingly high rate of food poisoning), and to protect our nation’s hard-earned reputation as a producer of high-quality and safe food. In this Act, there is more emphasis on managing risk than proscribing specific policies and practices.
One of the key new tools to help businesses manage all their food safety risks is the Food Control Plan, a written plan showing how food safety is managed. It is used to record critical information such as food temperature, cleaning and maintenance records. All restaurants will be required to have a full Food Control Plan.
The situation is slightly different for supermarkets and other food service businesses. They will not need to develop a Food Control Plan themselves. Instead, they can use a template developed by the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI). This should simplify the process for stores and help keep all the necessary records in one place. A link to the template is included at the bottom of this column. The site also contains details on how to register a completed Plan.
We know from NARGON members that one of the hardest parts of our industry is complying with all the various laws, regulations and by-laws. It is a massive job and involves a lot of time and effort. However, it is hugely important both for the individual business and the sector as a whole.
Of course, the task is made even harder as the rules are constantly changing. For example, stores are currently having to manage significant changes to a swathe of employment laws, a new and untested Health and Safety regime, and of course these changes to food safety requirements. Fortunately, there are a growing number of resources being developed by Government agencies and business groups to help businesses keep up with all the changes. Many of these resources are available from NARGON’s new website – http://www.nargon.co.nz/.
Steps to a template Food Control Plan on the Ministry for Primary Industries website – https://www.mpi.govt.nz/food-safety/food-act-2014/food-control-plans/steps-to-a-template-food-control-plan/
By Trina Snow, Executive Director, Nargon