The introduction of the Food Act in 2014 dramatically changed the landscape of the food industry in New Zealand. The law’s well-natured intentions bring a more holistic approach to food safety by ensuring that food is protected, recorded and managed adequately across the supply chain – however, this led to many small and medium-sized businesses were plunged into chaos.
The changing regulations and enforcement by the Ministry of Primary industries (MPI), Auckland Council, Wellington City Council, other local food regulatory bodies and other independent auditors like AsureQuality induced a stressful period of uncertainty and internal restructuring. The new standards and the rapid iteration through different versions have caused much within the Food Industry.
It’s not surprising if the mention of food safety or even obtaining a food hygiene certificate in New Zealand might inspire a solemn wave of boredom into your day. I don’t blame you – but it’s essential that you understand which regulatory framework and standard your business need to conform to and train your staff.
The concept of iMonitor’s Food Safety Plan came together in this environment. We were already an expert in real-time monitoring, developing solutions for distributors, cool-stores since 201- to monitor the product stored or distributed. We built the Food Safety Plan as a platform to cater to the entire food industries regulatory need, on the premise that our tech will help businesses improve food safety, quality and lower production costs.
Introduction of Food Safety Systems
So, whether you are a producer, distributor, wholesaler or customer-facing business and sell potentially hazardous food, you will have to either enrol on a National Programme, Risk Management Programme (RMP), or a Food Control Plan (FCP). Potentially hazardous food are products that must be kept in controlled conditions means any food that may be compromised by the growth of harmful bacteria; or food in temperature regulating apparatus to prevent the build-up of harmful bacteria; or even food that becomes compromised when exposed to air. For example, canned meats that only pose a threat once opened. Businesses that sell ready-to-eat food also sell potentially hazardous food.
MPI Food Safety requires you to have a food safety plan that correlates with how much risk your business could potentially pose to public food safety in New Zealand. For example, restaurants and cafes that manage and deal with food intimately daily would be classified as higher-risk outlets, and have to abide by an FCP. Back-end distributors or manufacturers that don’t handle perishable and easily contaminated dairy, meat or fish products regularly should be eligible to sign up to a National Programme.
National Programmes: Levels 1-3
Businesses that have minimal food exposure risk have the option to follow a national programme. National Programmes level 1-3 is a framework that allows you to comply with the Food Act 2014 and manage food safety risks that do exist in your business.
The National Program Level 1-3 framework enables you to avoid having to produce a written food control plan. Your business will have to be registered with the local council (or with an MPI if your business covers more than one local area).
You will need to have a system in place to maintain food safety, so your knowledge to comply with food law and food safety training must be acceptable. The system must ensure safe food, its packaging, labelling, storage, display of food. Most importantly, you need to know what’s in your food.
Records must be maintained of the staff competency, water testing, sourcing, receiving, tracing food and transportation of food. When aspects of the plan go wrong detailed records must be kept and the corrective actions taken to fix must also be recorded.
You must regularly verify if the programme in place is working well, an approved verifier from the local council or MPI will carry out regular verifications to ensure the system is functional.