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CAFE and restaurant operators in Manawatu have grasped the opportunity to become au fait with proposed new national regulations aimed at providing a structured approach to food safety management.
About 20 people attended a workshop at the Manawatu District Council recently to discuss the Food Control Plan - a series of information sheets developed by the New Zealand Food Safety Authority detailing best practice for food service processes such as preparation, storage, display and cleaning.
Kathryn Manning, the authority’s North Island Programme Co-ordinator, said the workshop was a good opportunity for food businesses to become familiar with the new Food Bill prior to it becoming a Food Act.
“It’s a voluntary programme and allows them to come on board and trial the plan and see how they go. It also gives them an advantage ahead of other businesses that are just going to wait until the act is introduced.”
Ms Manning hoped the workshop would encourage participants to take ownership of their business and accompanying food safety issues.
“They must make sure their staff is consistently creating safe food so they have confidence in the food they are making is not going to give any of their customers an illness.”
Ms Manning said Food Control Plans were great for in-house training and raising awareness in all the different components of food safety management.
Businesses involved in the early roll-out receive a certificate of exemption once they have complied with their Food Control Plan and will be able to display it at their premises.
“Customers are going to start recognising that certificate and we are hoping it will increase the trade they get,” said Ms Manning. “People will choose to go to them because they recognise they are potentially safer than businesses that don’t have the certificate.”
She said many councils now operated a grading system for food premises – a practice that had drawn much public support.
“The customers love it, because if there is something that indicates they are potentially safer eating at these businesses, then they will head there.”
Principal Environmental Officer, Colin Perrin, said there had been a positive response to the workshop and council would be following-up with the cafe and restaurant owners involved.
“It’s a new process and new system so we are looking forward to the chance of working with the businesses in the future,” said Mr Perrin.
“In this way we can learn and grow together on how to get the system up and running, so when it becomes compulsory, there will be a smooth transition from the existing process to the new one.”