Backlash leads to food safety rethink

DEENA COSTER
Last updated 05:00 15/05/2014

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Guidelines around Stratford's food safety will be watered down as a result of public backlash against the proposed changes.

Nine submissions were received about the district's food safety bylaw, with most critical of the suggested target of having 100 per cent of staff undergo training if they handled food.

Hospitality New Zealand's Taranaki secretary Chris Hince, who spoke to his submission at Tuesday's council meeting, said its membership had raised several issues with the draft document.

"The biggest one is the increase in training," he said.

The bylaw change would require the number of food handling staff who had to be trained to rise from 50 to 100 per cent.

Hince said the increased expectation around documentation would also have an impact on Stratford's food businesses.

Another submitter, Stratford District Youth Council's secretary Christopher James said the proposed change could impact on employment with business owners less inclined to hire youth if they also had the cost of training to consider.

Stratford Golf Club's Pauline Downs said they had already spent $390 on training and any further requirement would hit the club in the pocket.

"We will be faced with further expense," she said.

She said the club's kitchen was serviced by volunteers who only worked on average about once a month.

"The requirement seems excessive for the service we provide," she said.

Councillor John Sandford said he considered the move a step too far and supported it to stay at the current requirement of 50 per cent.

Mayor Neil Volzke said although he supported the bylaw's objective to raise standards around food safety, the proposed change would be a "hefty" requirement and one that would be out of step with what other councils around the country had in place.

Following receipt of the submissions, a recommendation was made for council staff to amend the draft bylaw to include the retention of the 50 per cent requirement but for an incentive scheme to be introduced to encourage retailers to aim for A grade compliance.

The final document will be brought back to council at its next meeting for sign off.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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