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New food plans revealed

New food plans revealed 1 May 2008

New Zealand's new domestic food regulatory regime came a step closer this week when the New Zealand Food Safety Authority (NZFSA) revealed its template Food Control Plan in the first of a series of workshops being held around the country for local government staff.

New Zealand's decades-old food law is due to be updated when the new Food Bill comes into force. With the Bill's development slower than expected, 38 councils have agreed to take part in the voluntary release of a key part of the new food regime and it is hoped that more councils will have another chance to join those already signed up to the scheme later this year. The Food Control Plan for food service (café, restaurant, takeaway) and catering businesses is the first to be developed.

Carole Inkster, NZFSA's Policy Director said the interim system, including the release of the Food Control Plan, was designed to ensure that the enthusiasm and momentum built up over the last four years of policy development continues, and that the agreed changes get underway without further delay. "We are delighted with the level of interest councils have shown in coming on board with this exciting development for domestic food regulation. It will allow participating councils to ease into their new roles with a smaller number of more motivated food operators as well as giving them a chance to get used to new systems (eg, data management) without the rush of all of their businesses coming in at once," said Carole.

Based on the best of overseas examples and following trials over the last two years, the Food Control Plan is made up of a folder of illustrated procedure sheets and tables to help food operators meet the requirements of the law and produce safe food as easily as possible. It describes each step of the food preparation process with photographs and tips on how to manage food safety along the way, and in many cases includes space for operators to fill in how they do things. It's accompanied by a diary for recording things that go wrong and what is done to fix them.

"We have worked with industry, local councils and others to ensure that the system is as simple and user-friendly as we can make it" said Carole. "Businesses need to know they are doing all they can to produce safe food and the plan is clear and attractive and designed to deliver this assurance for business."

The Food Control Plan will be available to people who run food service or catering businesses. It is primarily for businesses in areas where their council has chosen to take part, but is available to any business in these food sectors.

Food operators who register their Food Control Plan with their participating council will also receive a package of attractive supporting resources including a digital food thermometer, temperature safety zone fridge magnet and staff hygiene posters and stickers – all designed to reinforce key food safety points to food handlers. A certificate of registration will give consumers the choice to shop at businesses that have made the commitment to pro-actively manage food safety under a Food Control Plan rather than the 1974 Food Hygiene Regulations.

The Food Control Plan is expected to be available from NZFSA's website in June for food operators to use later this year.

ENDS

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