You know as well as anyone that being in charge of a food business isn’t as easy as popping a cake in the oven, harvesting lettuce or serving up some meat on a plate and handing it over to a hungry customer. In fact, food businesses possibly have more of an obligation to comply with legislative expectations than any other industry, because they have such a direct relationship with the people they’re serving.
If your business grows, makes, sells, stores or transports anything that can be consumed, you probably need to register a plan or programme under the Food Act 2014. Fresh fruit and vegetables, jam that you make out of your industrial at-home kitchen, Paleo cereals made right here in New Zealand, kombucha … it doesn’t matter what it is, if it’s food or drink and you handle it in some way, you must make sure you’re compliant.
Why Does Compliance Matter?
Food businesses aren’t just manufacturing, storing, transporting or serving up food or drinks; they have a direct influence on the health and safety of the person consuming it. That’s why ensuring that you’re compliant is so important - you don’t want your products or processes to make anyone sick and you don’t want your business to look bad in the process.
MPI is less worried about your business’ reputation and more concerned about the wellbeing of everyday New Zealanders, which is why there are such strict rules around what you can and can’t do when handling food.
What Does Compliance Look Like?
In the past, every food business operated under a food safety programme (FSP) which was risk- and hazard-focused, and which was basically one-size-fits-all. A law change in 2016 means that food safety rules are now tailored to individual businesses. All food businesses must operate under a Food Control Plan (FCP) which outlines the steps they should take to keep their food and their customers safe.
Instead of the old one-size-fits-all model, a food business has a few compliance options. They can choose to join a national programme, operate under a template FCP (because businesses that are similar to each other don’t need to recreate the wheel), or create their own custom FCP.
Some food businesses are also exempt, for cultural and fundraising reasons. For example, if you’re cooking and serving a meal on a marae, baking cakes to be sold at a cake stall or donating food goods to a community organisation, you don’t need to operate under the Food Act 2014.
Not sure where you fit? Here’s a handy MPI tool that will help you figure out what registration option would work best for your food business.
Are You Compliant?
Any food businesses that were operating before 1 March 2016 and were registered under the Food Act 1981 or Food Hygiene Regulations 1974 before 29 February 2016 should have transitioned to the new Act by 30 November 2018 (if you haven’t, urgently contact MPI today). Food businesses that started operating from 1 March 2016 automatically fell under the new legislation so they are compliant already.
Making MPI Compliance Easier
A Food Control Plan (FCP) outlines the steps your food business needs to take to ensure the safety of your food and your punters. These steps will change depending on what industry you’re in or what food or drink you produce, but it could be anything from keeping your fridges within a certain temperature range to storing food for a maximum amount of time. Your compliance measures are determined by the type of FCP your food business operates under.
One major part of compliance is recording data. In the past, food businesses have done this manually, resulting in lots of paper that may or may not be organised well, stored efficiently or remembered to be filled in. This becomes problematic when records must be submitted to MPI, especially if those records don’t exist.
A much easier and more efficient way of ensuring and maintaining compliance is to go digital. Safe Food Pro is a digital app that makes managing your FCP simple and efficient. Assign jobs to certain people, set reminders to ensure the right data is collated at the right time, and customise your dashboard to see the most important information at a glance. Safe Food Pro’s intuitive platform gives you a back-stop when it comes to remaining compliant, plus it makes it much easier to submit complete data to MPI when you’re audited.
Keen to give Safe Food Pro a go? Sign up for the free trial today.