Starting off with Simply Safe and Suitable Food Control Plan

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The New Zealand Food Act (2014) has made it paramount for food retail businesses such as restaurants and cafes to have a comprehensive, easy to use and certified food safety control plan template in place to identify risks and demonstrate how their business prevents food contamination and responds to food safety problems.

MPI Food Safety offers a Simply Safe & Suitable template to implement into your business, providing a step-by-step guide to ensuring food safety compliance that covers the whole process of handling food, from when you walk into work at the start of the day to locking the doors at night.

The Simply Safe & Suitable food control plan provides your hospitality business with a simple and useful day cycle that allows you to manage each part of the daily food handling process with ease. It gives managers a visual reminder of each food handling section, allowing them to crosscheck the current procedures in place with the requirements of MPI food safety.

The list of colour-coded sections are as follows: Set-up (Dark Blue Cards), Starting (Blue Cards), Preparing (Green Cards), Making & Cooking (Yellow Cards), Serving & Selling (Orange Cards), Closing (Purple Cards) and Troubleshooting (Red cards which apply to all stages). There is also a final ‘Specialist’ food section (Teal Cards) included, which is designed to help restaurants that prepare certain dishes or use particular methods to counteract the risk of food risk on the New Zealand public.

“Know”, “Do”, “Show” and “Record”

For each part of the day cycle, this health and safety template shows restaurant owners and managers what they need to ‘Know’, ‘Do’, ‘Show’ and ‘Record’. This makes it very easy to comply with the legislation.

  • The ‘Know’ section outlines exactly what every employee needs to understand with regards to food safety.
  • The ‘Do’ section requires a delegated manager to take certain actions to ensure that preventative measures are in place to reduce the risk of food contamination. This section also outlines the necessary daily actions that all employees must follow to ensure food is served safely.
  • The ‘Show’ section conveys what your business needs to show in terms of practices and on-site knowledge to a verifier
  • The ‘Record’ section indicates the critical food safety, quality management data required by your verifier or local MP to prove that your business is following the MPI food control plan template properly.

Setting Up (Dark Blue Cards)

The first thing you will have to do is fill in all of your business details. To be compliant, you will have to fill in information such as business location, legal trading name, food service type, contact details, verification agency, registration authority and what water supplier you use.

As part of training your staff, your business will have to make sure that all staff are fully conscious of the potential food safety risks during operating hours. Managers need to be fully equipped with the techniques and resources to educate all employees about food safety; they will also have to make sure employees understand the importance of cleanliness & sanitisation, wearing clean clothing, reporting sickness and know what to do when something goes wrong. Record, for each employee, what they were trained in and ensure that both employee and manager have signed this recorded document.

Starting (Blue Cards)

The start of the day cycle assesses 4 key areas in the food handling process: washing hands, cross-contamination of food, keeping food cold and checking for pests. Staff need to know about the food safety risks if hands are not washed properly at the right times, if cuts and sores are not sufficiently covered, the risks that illnesses (coughs, colds, viruses) can pose if sick employees are directly exposed to food handling areas and the transfer of bacteria from dirty clothes to equipment, surfaces and food.

The delegated food safety manager must always be informed if employees have vomited or been sick within the last 48 hours; they must also ensure that all staff understand the importance of food temperature regulation. Regular temperature checks of the fridge (always kept at 5C° or lower) are necessary, whilst measures must be established to prevent pests (mice, insects, birds) from contaminating food and affecting your business’ chance of acquiring a food safety certificate in New Zealand.

Preparing Food (Green Cards)

Knowing how to prepare and separate food is vital if you want to obtain a food licence in New Zealand. Staff will not only have to know the 11 most common food allergens (shellfish, eggs, gluten, peanuts etc.) but also how to separate uncooked, raw food and cooked, ready-to-eat food.

Food with potential allergens must be labelled and staff must be fully aware at all times of exactly what is in each dish for the health and safety of the customer. Either you will need to show a verifier during audits how you clean as you go or show measures that stop harmful bugs from growing.

You will also need to show what approved suppliers you source your produce from, record the type and quantity of food, as well as environmental conditions such as temperature and expiry date.

Making and Cooking Food

All staff must know how cooking meat at certain temperatures and times affects the level of harmful bacteria in particular meats. Cooked food that is held between 5-60C° can be reheated again to above 75C° and served hot (above 60C°) within 4 hours. Otherwise, it must be thrown out. You may have to use a thermometer or an automated system to monitor the internal temperature of the food.

Record and show how you cook different meats: chicken, duck, minced or finely ground meat to specific temperatures for a fixed amount of time to ensure that they are safe to verifiers. Table 1 below outlines the necessary time/temperature combinations if your business cooks poultry, minced or finely ground meat, or chicken livers:

Table 1: Food core temperatures required to ensure safety.

Internal Temperature (C°) Minimum time at temperature
65 15 minutes
70 3 minutes
75 30 seconds

If your business deals with sensitive meats, you will need to record the temperature of one item for each batch. Show your verifier records of how you safely cook poultry and minced meat: the food, the date cooked, the temperature that the food was cooked too and how long it stayed at this temperature for. If you can prove to a verifier that your own specific method of cooking works every time, then you will be able to use your own method, but you will still have to take regular temperature checks once a week.

Cleaning Up (Purple Cards)

Restaurateurs must understand how rubbish and dirty surfaces attracts rodents like mice and rats. Dangerous bacteria grows on unwashed surfaces and increases the chance of food contamination and risk to public health. Moreover, managers must know the difference between cleaning and sanitising. Cleaning removes dirt and grease; sanitising kills harmful bugs on the surface. In order to maintain food safety, your business needs to throw out stock by its sell-by date, throw out leftovers and any ingredients that have been contaminated. Any food that is to be used later needs to be labelled and stored properly in containers. Bins must be cleaned frequently, and all surfaces must be sanitised regularly. A record will have to be kept of how you dispose of your waste effectively and how you clean and sanitise your food preparation areas and equipment.

It’s also essential that your equipment is up to date and in quality condition. Broken equipment may make it easier for pests to enter the premises and contaminate food. Regularly check for signs of deterioration and fix as necessary. Always flush water pipes after repairs and maintenance and 7 days without use to remove stagnant water. You will need to show your verifier what you do to check your premises and how you check that your equipment is in good working order, in addition to a record of your maintenance tasks and how often you’ve maintained and regulated your water system.

Trouble Shooting (Red Cards)

You will need to keep a record of things that have gone wrong for a minimum of 4 years and be able to document what went wrong, who was involved and how the problem was fixed. Use your records to determine a cause. For example, was food reheated to above 75C°? Or was the food that you bought from the supplier in inferior condition? Your verifier will need to see a record of where things have gone wrong. It will have to cover aspects such as: what was the problem? What did you do to fix the problem? How did you introduce measures that stopped this from happening again?

A designated manager must also be able to solve food complaints quickly and efficiently, and determine whether the complaint is about quality, sustainability or food safety. If the complaint affects the food safety of a batch or an individual item, you must separate it until proven to be safe or throw out affected food and associated ingredients. You will also need to show your verifier the contact details of the person who made the complaint, the date and time of the purchase of the food, the cause of the problem, what the complaint was about, and the action you took to solve the problem and to prevent the same occurrence.

iMonitor’s Food Safety Plan – Food Safety Compliance Made Easy

iMonitor’s Food Safety Plan app makes your journey setting up and operating the simply safe and suitable plan for your business a breeze. The user-friendly app guides your business through all relevant food safety tasks, provides necessary staff training and gives 24/7 access to audit-ready data, ensuring that you are compliant to the most recent food safety regulations. The app offers a pre-set template plan and checklists that allow for an immediate start. These can be easily tailored to your actual business requirements. The digitisation of your food safety management not only ensures ongoing regulatory compliance, but also reduces wastage and inventory losses and increases workflow efficiency, saving you precious time and money.

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