Making things easier for Kiwi food businesses
The Ministry for Primary Industries’ (MPI) new online tool, Where do I fit? makes it easier for businesses to find out what rules they need to follow under the new Food Act.
There are about 45,000 food businesses throughout New Zealand and anyone who’s involved in selling food is likely to be affected by the Act. They range from big manufacturers and retailers to local restaurants, cafes, dairies and market stalls. The Act also applies to a range of organisations like schools, hospitals and rest homes that provide food as part of their service.
The Act is designed so people can manage food safety themselves in a way that suits their business. At the same time, it will ensure New Zealand maintains a robust food safety system that meets the highest possible standards. Low- to medium-risk food businesses can operate with fewer requirements and costs. Higher-risk businesses, such as those dealing with raw meats, will meet more stringent food safety criteria.
Different businesses will face different types of regulation and Where do I fit? is designed to help people prepare for this. It uses a series of simple ‘yes/no’ questions that help users quickly determine the food safety requirements they need to follow. For some this will be a written plan for food safety, known as a food control plan. For others it will be a national programme – which means registering, getting checked, and meeting requirements for making safe food.
Some activities, like traditional Kiwi sausage sizzles and other fundraising events, are exempt from registering or paying fees. The only rule for these kinds of activities is to ensure that the food is safe and suitable to eat.
In its first few months of operation, Where do I fit? was used more than 10,600 times and has been one of the most popular pages of MPI’s website. It will remain important as more food businesses start switching over to the new rules.
Since the tool was launched MPI has been working on a range of new guidance material to help businesses understand what they need to. The tool helps businesses find the information that’s right for them.
The new Food Act came into force on 1 March 2016. Existing businesses will be given a three-year transition period to move to the new rules. People can find out more about food safety and transitioning to the new rules via the Where do I fit? page on MPI’s website.
So the next time you pick up your dumplings, visit your favourite craft brewery or go to your local Sunday market, let them know as well!