Have your say about food safety rules
The closing date for submissions was 5 December 2016.
Your views sought
The Food Act 2014 came into effect on 1 March 2016 and applies to all food for sale in New Zealand.
MPI is consulting on proposed changes to food safety regulations and notices. Regulations and notices set rules that food businesses have to follow under the new Act.
Existing regulations and notices were consulted on last year and set out what businesses need to do to comply with the law.
As the new law is rolled out, we monitor and evaluate the changes. The proposals in this consultation make improvements where needed to make sure the new law works as intended.
Video – Have your say about the food safety rules (1:20)
[Lisa walks out of her coffee cart and joins Simon on a bench. The two characters have a conversation.]
Simon: Have you heard that MPI is consulting on new food safety regulations? You sell food. You should have your say.
Lisa: But I already know about the new food safety law. The Food Act isn’t it? Is it changing again?
Simon: No, it’s all part of the same law. These regulations just improve a few things, to make sure everything’s working well.
Lisa: Oh no, I bet it will give me more to do.
Simon: Actually, they say they are reducing regulation for many low risk businesses. Like yours.
Lisa: Really, what else do they say?
Simon: Well, there’s something about hemp seed oil and low acid canning. But I don’t think those apply to you. They’re also proposing more detailed requirements for some processes. Like fermentation, pasteurisation, concentration, drying, or bottling acidic food.
Lisa: Oh, well I make pickles, so I’d better read it. Is there anything else I should know?
Simon: All the information is on the MPI website. It tells you who you should send your feedback to. I’ve done it before, it’s really easy. You can just send a few bullet points or complete a survey.
Lisa: That does sound easy. I’ll go have my say now.
[End of transcript]
What's being proposed?
- Fewer sanitising, record-keeping, and procedural requirements for lower risk businesses.
- More detailed requirements for national programme businesses using specific processes, to help them know their food is safe.
- Innovative or unique processes must use a food control plan.
- Technical change to sous vide cooking in the template food control plan.
- Greater flexibility in the timing of a business' first verification.
- Small change in what verifiers need to report.
- Revoke unnecessary rules and keep existing ones that are still needed.
- Technical change to make sure the Animal Products and Food Acts work together seamlessly.
- Technical change relating to maximum residue levels in wine production.
Two discussion papers contain the full proposals. One is for regulations and the other for notices. Regulations are rules that go through Parliament. Notices set more technical detail and are issued by MPI. Both set rules that businesses need to follow under the law.
- Proposals for changes to food safety regulations [PDF, 490 KB]
- Proposals for changes to food safety notices [PDF, 603 KB]
A summary of the proposals is below.
Who should give feedback?
The consultation is relevant to food businesses and those who regulate them. Different people will be interested in different aspects, depending on what they do. We've separated the changes into sections, to help you decide what's relevant to you:
- National programmes
- Innovative and unique food processes
- Template food control plans
- Review of old food safety rules
- Animal Products Act changes
Under the new Food Act, low-and-medium-risk food businesses work under a national programme – 1, 2 or 3.
To check if you'll be working under a national programme, and what type, use our tool, Where do I fit?
Fewer requirements for national programme businesses
Lower-risk businesses will have fewer requirements for sanitising and record keeping. This applies to businesses who fall under national programme 1 or 2, like coffee carts, horticultural produce, shops selling pre-packaged food, and manufacturers of lower-risk products like confectionery.
More details are on Page 7 in the regulations discussion paper.
Greater clarity for some processes
National programme businesses that use certain processes will need to meet criteria proven to make safe food. Businesses wanting to do things differently can use a food control plan to show their way is safe.
- Pasteurising – pasteurised food, like juice, must be heated to 75 degrees Celsius for 15 seconds (or an equivalent time and temperature combination set out in the Notice).
- Acidification – acid foods, like condiments, need a pH of 4.6 or less.
- Fermentation – fermented vegetable products need a pH of 3.6 or less.
- Concentration – concentrated foods need a water activity of less than 0.85.
- Drying – dried foods, like cereals or herbs, need a water activity of less than 0.85.
- Canning acidic food – bottled acidic food must be heated to 100 degrees Celsius for 20 minutes, or 121 degrees Celsius for 25 seconds.
More details are on page 3 in the Notices discussion paper.
There are some innovative or unique processes where no generic food safety criteria are established. Businesses using these processes will have to use a food control plan and validate their process to show how it's safe. They include:
- High-pressure processing
- aseptic processing/packaging
- ohmic, cold plasma, ultrasonification, hydrodynamic, electromagnetic (pulsed electric field, radio frequency, ultraviolet)
- microwave pasteurisation
- experimental cuisine.
The notices discussion paper has more details (page 5).
These plans are used by food service businesses, like restaurants, cafes, takeaways, caterers or hospital kitchens and food retailers, like retail butchers, fishmongers, delis, and supermarkets.
Change to Sous Vide
Our template sets maximum times between cooking and serving, or chilling and serving, sous vide food. We propose extending these time periods to 2 days (for cooking and serving) and 5 days (for chilling and serving). We have reviewed the science and believe food safety will be maintained with longer time periods.
Other minor changes
We intend to fix mistakes in the template and make it easier to use.
The notices discussion paper has more details (page 6).
More flexibility in timing of a business' first verification
Practical issues sometimes make it difficult for businesses to get their first verification in time. Registration authorities will be able to extend the deadline by up to a month in exceptional circumstances (where there is no threat to food safety).
More details are on page 12 of the regulations discussion paper.
Changes for verifiers
When verifiers use technical experts, they will need to include details in their reports.
Find out more on page 14 of the regulations discussion paper.
Some old laws (Food Safety Regulations 2002) are about to expire. We propose keeping ones that are still needed, and revoking ones that we think are covered by existing rules. All the changes are covered in the regulations discussion paper.
We propose continuing the 75% varietal composition rule for imported wine. This rule would become a new regulation in the Food Regulations 2015. We propose revoking the 15% alcohol by volume limit for wine sold in an off-licence. The Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012 is the best place for alcohol retail rules.
Find out more on page 24 of the regulations discussion paper.
We propose continuing the rule that allows businesses to add potable tap water to food, including if it is fluoridated. This rule only applies to reticulated supplies. (Businesses that use self-supply water work under other rules set by MPI).
Find out more on page 26 of the regulations discussion paper.
Hemp seed oil
We propose keeping rules that allow our hemp seed oil industry to operate.
Find out more on page 27 of the regulations discussion paper.
Low acid canning
Low acid canning must be supervised by a qualified person and comply with internationally accepted standards. These requirements will continue, but will be set by notice instead of regulation.
Find out more on page 22 of the regulations discussion paper.
Food containers and objects used with food
Making sure that containers and other objects used with food are clean and safe is important. We want to remove these old, prescriptive rules, as we think this is fully captured in our new Food Act regime.
Find out more on page 16 of the regulations discussion paper.
Sickness in the workplace
Rules to make sure that sick people can't contaminate food appear in our new Food Act regime and in public health laws. This means the old ‘infected persons and food’ rules are no longer needed.
Find out more on page 21 of the regulations discussion paper.
Sale of Muttonbirds
We propose removing special labelling and product weight requirements for muttonbirds. We think these matters are adequately covered in consumer protection law, are no longer used, or are better regulated by kaitiaki or under conservation laws.
Find out more on page 23 of the regulations discussion paper.
Analyst's certificate and fees
We propose removing an outdated clause that makes rules about analysts' certificates and fees under the old Food Act 1981.
Find out more on page 28 of the regulations discussion paper.
Technical changes will help the Food Act and the Animal Products Acts work better together. The changes provide more clarity to make sure that anyone who needs a risk-based measure is covered by either the Animal Products Act or the Food Act. Most people affected (such as fishmongers or cafes who make milkshakes) are already working under a risk-based measure, so the practical effect will be small.
More details are on page 30 of the regulations discussion paper.
Winemakers already need to comply with maximum residue levels for raw food (like grapes). To make things clearer, we will remove wine from a similar clause relating to processed food.
Find out more on page 31 of the regulations discussion paper.
How to give feedback
You can make a submission or give us your feedback in several ways.
This short survey makes it easy to give feedback. The survey summarises our proposals into key questions.
Answer all or some of the questions
You'll find a full list of questions in the discussion papers, or you can download them separately from the Word document below so you can copy and paste them more easily. Feel free to answer as many questions as you like.
Download the list of questions [DOCX, 17 KB]
Just tell us what you think
You don't have to answer our questions. You can write us a letter, a paragraph or a few bullet points about anything we've proposed.
Sending your feedback
Email your feedback by 5pm on 5 December 2016 to email@example.com
While we prefer email, you can post your feedback to:
Ministry for Primary Industries
PO Box 2526
Or hand deliver it to us at Pastoral House, 25 The Terrace, Wellington.
Make sure you include in your feedback:
- The title 'Food Act Consultation'.
- Your name and contact details (this will help us attribute feedback and respond to concerns but you can make an anonymous submission if you prefer).
- Your organisation's name (if you are submitting on behalf of an organisation).
Feedback received is public information
Note that feedback you provide is public information. Your feedback may be the subject of requests for information under the Official Information Act 1982 (OIA). The OIA specifies that information is to be made available to requesters unless there are sufficient grounds for withholding it, as set out in the OIA.
You may wish to indicate grounds for withholding specific information contained in your feedback, such as information being commercially sensitive or personal information to be withheld. MPI will take such indications into account when determining whether or not to release the information. Any decision to withhold information requested under the OIA is reviewable by the Ombudsman.