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Council wants food outlets to go for gold

Council wants food outlets to go for gold

Auckland City is increasing the standard of food outlets by introducing a new “Golden A” food grade to recognise premises that are consistently excellent in food safety and hygiene.

This new grade is being introduced this week along with new inspection criteria that will change the way all food premises in Auckland city are graded.

Auckland City senior environmental health specialist Darryl Thompson says food outlets will need to demonstrate very high standards in order to achieve a “Golden A” grade.

“‘Golden A’ rated food premises will have an outstanding record of excellence in food safety and show a commitment well above the minimum required by the current regulations.

“Also, these premises must have procedures in place that will give us confidence the standards we observe on the day of inspection will be maintained at all times.

“For this reason, we envisage that only five per cent of the city’s food premises will have high enough standards to achieve this grade,” Mr Thompson says.

Previously, the highest grade available was an A and around 85 per cent of the city’s food outlets have an A grade.

The revised grading scheme reflects concerns from both business owners and the public that a need exists for further classification and differentiation at the higher end of the grades because of so many food premises having an A.

Mr Thompson says under the new inspection criteria, food outlets will be judged on:

• processes around food preparation

• conduct of staff and maintenance of the premise

• cleanliness and sanitary conditions

• general compliance with the regulations

• training of food handlers

“The emphasis will move away from the traditional approach of looking at where the food is prepared and focus much more heavily on how food is prepared,” Mr Thompson says.

He says the new inspection criteria could mean some food outlets drop down the grading scale.

“In this event, the council’s environmental health officers will work closely with business owners to give them advice and training to help them achieve a higher grade.”

“We understand that members of the public need confidence that where they have chosen to dine and the city’s food outlets are safe and hygienic.”

The changes to Auckland City’s food grading policy are being introduced in preparation for national legislative changes.

The New Zealand Food Safety Authority (NZFSA) is revising the food hygiene regulations and expects a new regulatory framework to be ready for public consultation in November. This framework is likely to include a compulsory national grading system.

”One of the aims in introducing our grading changes now will be to help food businesses prepare for this new legislative environment before it becomes mandatory,” Mr Thompson says.

Environmental health officers carry out inspections of food premises in the city every six months and premises’ food grades can be found at www.aucklandcity.govt.nz/foodsafety


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