Food Act an­other hit on small cafes

Central Otago Mirror - - NEWS - By MARY-JO TO­HILL

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’’.

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