One of the most daunting aspects of owning a food business can be the mandatory food safety verifications. However, if you follow a few simple rules, you will sail through your verification.
Be aware of your responsibilities as a food business owner. The safety and suitability of your food is your responsibility. The Food Act 2014 and the supporting legislation and programmes were put in place to help food producers meet these requirements. The regulatory authorities, ie MPI or Council have the responsibility to register your business and make sure you comply with the regulations BUT it is your responsibility to make sure you know and understand all of the legislative requirements that are relevant to your business.
Prepare for your verification. If you have all of your ducks in a row before the verifier arrives things will go a lot quicker and more smoothly.
Ten top tips that will help you through your verification:
- Make sure you are aware of your responsibilities; this will give the verifier confidence in your abilities to produce safe and suitable food.
- Read and understand what the requirements are for your Food Control Plan or National Programme. How well you have implemented these plans and programmes is what you will be assessed against.
- Have a copy of your Food Control Plan or National Programme on site at all times and on hand for when the verifier arrives. This will be checked at every verification.
- Have all your records ready before the verifier arrives. This will save time and frustration.
- Carryout your self-checks at the required frequency and walk into your establishment from the outside to get an outsider's impression.
- Ensure all staff are on the same page. If your staff include employees for whom English is a second language, obtain a copy of a translated plan (these are available on the MPI website) so everyone understands how important food safety is to the success of your business.
- Keep good records and check them regularly and these should include: food cooling, storage, delivery and cooking time and temperatures.
- Don’t forget to write down when things go wrong or if you have made any changes.
- Reinforce the importance of hand washing. Post signs at all kitchen sinks and in employee restrooms.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions of your verifier, they are there to help you understand the requirements of the Food Act 2014.
Don’t stress and keep it simple! If you follow these simple tips your next verification should be a breeze.