Around 400 people attended workshops in Invercargill, Gore and Te Anau last week to find out what they needed to do under the new Food Act.
Workshops were organised by the local councils in partnership with the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI). They were attended by a diverse range of people, including those from local food businesses, hotels, community groups, education and health services.
Sally Johnston, Manager Food and Beverage at MPI, said “new rules can often mean uncertainty for people at first, so we want to provide as much help to understand what they need to do as possible. Workshops like this are a chance for people to work through any questions they have about the new rules.”
One workshop attendee asked why a new law was needed.
“We have a fairly good system in New Zealand” said Johnston “but it’s not as good as it can be. People still get sick from foodborne illness, and that’s why the new Act has been introduced. The rules we have been using were introduced in 1974 and haven’t changed much since then. We know a lot more about food safety now than we did 40 years ago.
“The new law takes a risk based approach – allowing us to concentrate on what’s most important for food safety. It also focuses on the actions and behaviour of people making food, rather than the premises where food is made, which is what stops people from getting sick.”
Southland District Council Environmental Health Officer Veena Lal-Boon said “We were very pleased with the turnout. There were a lot of questions, but by the time attendees left they had a much clearer understanding of where their food activity fit under the new rules. We had a lot of positive feedback from operators, and some even applied for registration while they were at the workshop.
“Anybody who wants to discuss the changes should contact Council’s Environmental Health team or the Ministry for Primary Industries.” she said.
Linda Harris, Health Promotion Coordinator at Heart Foundation, attended the workshop on behalf of the education sector. “The workshop was very useful to clarify the food safety requirements for schools and early learning services to comply with the Food Act 2014”, said Harris.