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 for registration by 31 March.
Over 5,000 food businesses across the country are already registered under the new law, which came into effect
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 the MPI website.
"Under the new rules, higher-risk businesses, including restaurants and cafes with an alcohol licence, 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. Businesses can also find out how the rules apply to them by using a tool called "Where do I fit?" on the MPI website: www.mpi.govt.nz/foodact
If you have an On-Licence but have not yet applied to register your business under the Food Act, then you should contact Ashburton District Council on 03 307 7700 and we will connect you with a Food Act Officer who will discuss the application process with you.