Thursday, October 22, 2015

MPI provides an interactive tool to determine your responsibilities under The Food Act 2014

The New Zealand Food Act 2014 comes into force on 1st March, 2016.  This will not be news to major food manufacturers, but does affect everyone working in the food industry; their responsibility is to produce safe food.

The new Act focusses on the processes of food production, rather than the premises where these activities are carried out. i.e. the old "floors, walls and ceilings" approach is long gone.  The other major difference from earlier legislation is that it takes account of the risk associated with any particular business (and that includes the activities of clubs and societies that raise funds via sales of food, such as pizzas).  The new Act brings in Food Control Plans for high risk food production and supply (in fact, many businesses have been operating under FCPs for some time), and introduces National Programmes for activities with lower risk.  Thus manufacture of ice cream is treated rather differently from the sale of coffee from a mobile operation at shows and open days.

One of the problems currently faced by smaller operations, such as corner dairies, saussage sizzles and community shared meals like club gatherings for members and guests, where food may be sold, but not as the primary purpose of the gathering, is knowing exactly what is required in terms of the regulations.  The New Zealand Ministry of Primary Industries (Te Manatu Ahu Matua) has provided an easy-to-use interactive tool to help all organisations involved in producing, selling and providing food to determine their responsibilities under the new Act.  The tool is called Where do I fit? and poses a series of questions you can answer by clicking responses.  The tool will then tell you your responsibilities and the requirements of the Act, together with links to further information.

I have not tested the tool extensively, but it is very easy to use and provides lots of helpful information.  I specifically tested it from the perspective of my gliding club's putting on a fundraiser and found the output very helpful.

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