The government is proposing changes to improve the written plans that it provides for businesses to manage food safety. A consultation, released today, calls on food businesses to decide if the new version is easier to use.
The plans – called template food control plans – are used by businesses like restaurants, cafes and delis to comply with the Food Act.
"Since the law came into effect last year, we’ve been asking for feedback from food businesses. The new plans are based on what businesses have told us would work better for them,” say Sally Johnston, food and beverage manager at the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).
"The new plans don’t change the rules. But they are shorter, simpler and easier to get to grips with.”
The Food Act takes a risk-based approach to managing food safety, introducing different rules for different businesses depending on what they do. Higher-risk food businesses must use a food control plan. Plans set out what businesses will do to keep food safe and suitable.
Template food control plans are designed for food service businesses like restaurants, cafes and caterers, and food retailers like delis, butchers, fishmongers and bakeries. They are also for other organisations that make and serve food, like rest homes and schools. These templates mean businesses don't need to write their own plan from scratch.
"We think the new plans will be effective in achieving food safety and work better for those running busy food businesses. But we need businesses to tell us if we've got it right," says Ms Johnston.
The deadline for some businesses to register under the Food Act is coming up. The law came into effect on 1 March 2016 but existing businesses are moving to the new rules in stages. Some businesses, including licensed restaurants and cafes, need to apply by the end of March (31 March 2017).
MPI hopes to release the new-look food control plan by the start of March. It will be released alongside the existing version. Businesses will be able to choose which one they use.