The deadline for some businesses to register under the new Food Act is coming up. Food businesses, including restaurants and cafes with an alcohol licence, need to apply by 31 March.
Over 5,000 food businesses across the country are already registered under the new law, which came into effect last year.
Sally Johnston, Manager Food and Beverage at MPI, says the new law aims to improve food safety by moving to a risk-based approach.
"It sets different rules for different businesses depending on what they do, and focuses on what’s most important for making sure food is safe."
While new businesses have to comply straight away, existing businesses are changing over to the new rules in stages. Other businesses that need to register by 31 March this year include Early Childhood Education centres that serve food; processors of nuts, seeds or coffee beans; and manufacturers of food for vulnerable people (like babies or the elderly), ready-to-eat salads, and sauces, spreads, dips or soups that need to be kept cold.
"Local councils and MPI are working with businesses to help them change over to the new rules. We’ve been holding workshops for food businesses around the country and have published online tools, step-by-step guides and videos on this website.
"Under the new rules, higher-risk businesses, including restaurants and cafes, need to use a written plan for food safety, called a food control plan. Medium and lower risk businesses will follow a set of food safety rules known as a national programme.
"All registered businesses get checked by a food safety verifier. This is an important part of the system, as it’s how we check businesses are making safe food. Those that manage food safety well will be checked less often than those who don’t.
"This means that doing things well can help businesses save time and money, as well as giving customers confidence that their food is safe."
Most businesses need to register with their local council. They can find out how the rules apply to them by using our online tool – Where Do I fit?