Food for thought in the dining-out trade
Who do you think has the highest food standards?
Poll: 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 complying with it, he said.
There were also no issues of non-compliance under the current regulations this year, which he attributed to more inspections, implemented as part of the food-control plan.
The new food-control plans, introduced 11 months ago, are part of the council's new risk-based approach to food grading, which requires establishments with a high risk of food contamination to be inspected more frequently.
The new food plans would later this month be peer reviewed and audited in Wellington as part of the council's 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 current 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. Council 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 out or a warning issued. Businesses that had compliant food-control plans could then display a certificate to show the outlet was 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 for Primary Industries to facilitate the new food control plans. It would be used to train staff.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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