Food Act another hit on small cafes
Still reeling from the ‘‘disastrous’’ impact of recent changes to the liquor licensing act, businesses are now having to deal with pending changes to the food act, an Alexandra restaurateur says.
Carol Pirie of burger restaurant Nosh Nosh Swigs said while being aware of the changes, she had not studied the 2014 Food Act, which will put more onus on the food sector to manage risk around food safety. Changes will come into effect on March 1 next year.
It would be easier if businesses were just sent a manual ‘‘as we will all have to conform anyway’’, Pirie said.
‘‘My business is already reeling after the disastrous effect of the changes to the liquor licensing act (Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012), in early December. I guess this will just be something else to deal with.
‘‘I can see a time in the not too distant future when small eateries offering something a little different will be a thing of the past and people’s only options for dining will be the large chain outlets offering mass produced, characterless fodder.’’
Central Otago and Queenstown Lakes district councils will be inviting the food sector to have a say about changes to the act.
Cafes, restaurants, takeaways and off-site caterers would be operating under a much more rigorous system than before, when the new food act comes into effect in March next year, Queenstown Lakes District Council regulatory manager Lee Webster said.
Having a food control plan was the biggest change from the Food Hygiene Regulations Act 1974, an outdated, ‘‘one-size-fits-all approach to food safety’’, he said.
‘‘The food control plan reviews each stage of the food business operation, the risks associated with the activities undertaken and the control measures put in place to ensure food safety,’’ Webster said.
Many food sector businesses in the Queenstown Lakes and Central Otago districts are already using the Ministry for Primary Industries’ food control template under a voluntary implementation programme, before the 2014 Food Act rules come into effect next year.
For instance, in the Queenstown Lakes, 187 businesses, about 40 per cent, were using a food control plan, with another 10 per cent interested in signing up, Webster said.
In Central Otago, 18 premises were using the template and the council would be making a concerted effort over the next 12 months to get at least another 50 on board, to make the work load manageable in 2016, licensing inspector Ray Applegarth said.
According to the Ministry for Primary Industries guidelines, businesses must show written documentation of how the outlet was being managed.
Battling on: Nosh Nosh Swig owners Mark and Carol Pirie. Carol says the new Food Act is ‘‘something else to deal with’’.