Push for food control

COLLETTE DEVLIN
Last updated 14:02 19/09/2013
Southland Times photo
ROBYN EDIE/Fairfax NZ

Invercargill City Council senior environmental health officer Sudhir Kumar and environmental health team leader Muriel Rusike urge retailers in the city to sign up for the voluntary food control plans before it becomes legislation.

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Invercargill City Council staff are urging more retailers in the city to take part in a successful voluntary food control plan.

Council manager for environmental health John Youngson said he believed the plan would help lower the number of non-compliant retailers.

About 23 retailers who served food in the city had signed up to the plan so far and all were compliant, he said. 

There were also no issues of non-compliance under the current regulations so far this year, which he attributed to more inspections, implemented as part of the food control plan.

The new food control plans, which were introduced 11 months ago, are part of a package the council has implemented with the introduction of a risk-based approach to food grading and requiring establishments with a high risk of food contamination to be inspected more frequently.

The new food plans would late this month be peer reviewed and audited in Wellington as part of the council quality management system, he said.

''We have started to implement a more efficient model of  voluntary compliance across the council,'' he said.

A proposed Food Bill before parliament will replace the Food Hygiene Regulations, making the food control plan mandatory, but Mr Youngson did not know the timeframe for this legislation.

Invercargill City Council senior environmental health officer Sudhir Kumar urged retailers to take advantage of the free  voluntary control plan before it became mandatory, when a fee will be charged. Staff would help businesses implement the plan and educate owners, he said.

Inspectors will ask business staff to demonstrate their process, rather than inspecting each area individually. 

Retailers were divided into three categories and those considered high risk (preparing food) were inspected more often and if a risk was found they were inspected regularly until the issue was sorted or a warning issued.

Businesses that had compliant food control plans could then display a certificate to show they were providing a safe place to eat.

''So far we have issued no warnings, which is a good sign and we hope it remains like that,'' he said.

The council had received a $6000 grant from the Ministry of Primary Industries to facilitate the new food control plans. It would be used to train staff.

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