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Introduction of Food Control Plans revised

Introduction of Food Control Plans revised

17 December 2007

A change in timing in the development of the new Food Bill will see Food Control Plans introduced on a voluntary basis for some sectors of the food industry in mid-2008.

In October 2006 Government agreed that a new Food Bill should be written and development of the legislation has been underway since that time.

"Timelines for such a complex piece of legislation are always uncertain," says Carole Inkster, the New Zealand Food Safety Authority's (NZFSA) Policy Director. "As the Food Bill will not be introduced to Parliament in time for a mid 2008 start we are working to find ways to implement components of the system voluntarily under current legislation. This approach has received a positive response from groups we have discussed it with. We are keen to maintain the momentum built up over the last four years."

NZFSA expects to have a range of material available in the early part of 2008 for those businesses that had been identified for introduction in the first year of transition of the new Food Act (food service and catering sectors). This would mean that business operators in these sectors will be able to register and implement a Food Control Plan (freely available to them) then apply for an exemption from the Food Hygiene Regulations 1974.

The new imports programme will also be affected by the delay in the Food Bill's introduction and NZFSA intends to consult on aspects of that programme that can be delivered under current legislation in the first half of 2008.

NZFSA is continuing work on developing the new legislation that will enable a more consistent regulatory programme ensuring that food producers protect their consumers while at the same time allowing them to work in innovative and flexible ways that best meet their needs.

Ends

For further comment contact:
Carole Inkster, Director Policy 029 894 2505

For further information contact:
Philippa Ross-James, Programme Manager (Communications), 04-894 2552

Questions and answers

What is happening with the start and implementation of a new Food Act?

Due to delays in drafting the new Food Bill, NZFSA plans to implement components of the system voluntarily under current legislation.

Why is an interim, voluntary programme being introduced?

NZFSA wants to keep up the momentum built over the last four years of moving towards a modern, consistent food safety management programme and will use the extra time it will take to get the new Food Bill passed as an opportunity to introduce it gradually. This has the advantage of allowing NZFSA, Territorial Authorities and food operators more time to develop skills and systems to support the new environment.

How will the voluntary programme work?

The off–the–peg template that has already been trialled will be issued for the food service (restaurants, takeaways etc.) and catering sectors to register as a Food Safety Programme (FSP) voluntarily under the current Food Act. Once these programmes are registered the operator will have an exemption from the Food Hygiene Regulations.

Why has the Bill been delayed?

It's a very complex piece of legislation and the drafting process is taking longer than anticipated.

Will work continue on developing the new Food Bill?

Yes. NZFSA received the third draft of the Bill in early December and work will continue on it with the aim of introducing it to the parliamentary process early in 2008.

Who will be able to have an off–the-peg Food Control Plan?

There are two factors that will allow an operator to register an off-the-peg Food Control Plan as a Food Safety Programme voluntarily. Firstly their local Territorial Authority must agree to take part in the pilot. Secondly their business needs to be one of those already identified as a year 1 sector (ie, food service and caterers).


ENDS

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