NZ Food Safety sets new goal – to reduce food-borne Campylobacter by 20% by 2025

A new goal to significantly reduce foodborne Campylobacter poisoning by 20% by 2025 was announced today.

The results of a study commissioned by New Zealand Food Safety to add greater scientific rigour to efforts to reduce food-borne illnesses were released today, too.

The study, Source assigned campylobacteriosis in New Zealand, found more than 80% of human food-borne cases are likely due to the consumption of poultry meat.

New Zealand Food Safety and the poultry industry, working collaboratively to reduce Campylobacter rates, have updated their strategy and action plan to include enhanced consumer education, better hygiene through the poultry processing and food distribution chain, and improved measures at the poultry farm level.  Continue reading

Food Safety chief says hemp seed can be sold as food from today

Amendments to regulations to allow the sale of hemp seeds as food take effect today.

The Head of New Zealand Food Safety, Bryan Wilson, says there was wide support for changes to introduce hemp seed into the New Zealand food supply.

Hemp seeds are safe to eat and nutritious and they produce no psychoactive or therapeutic effects, he said.

New Zealand Food Safety and the Ministry of Health jointly consulted earlier this year on proposed changes to the Misuse of Drugs (Industrial Hemp) Regulations 2006 and the Food Regulations 2015 to allow the sale of hemp seed as food.

Sixty-four submissions were received from industry groups, growers, businesses, and consumers, the majority of respondents strongly in favour of changes to allow hemp seed and hemp seed products to be sold as food. Submitters also requested more guidance surrounding the Misuse of Drugs (Industrial Hemp) Regulations 2006.

To support the new hemp seed industry, New Zealand Food Safety has produced two new guides – A guide to hemp seeds as food and A guide to labelling food containing hemp seeds. These provide information on what hemp seeds or hemp seed products are allowed as food, what rules need to be met and how to meet them, and what information needs to be included on the label.

Although hemp seeds can now be sold as food, hemp production continues to be regulated to ensure that illegal, high-THC cannabis is not produced.

Hemp flowers and leaves are not permitted. Growing, possession, and trade of whole seeds require a licence from the Ministry of Health.

New Zealand Food Safety will ensure the THC levels in the hemp seed food products are monitored through the normal process of ensuring food is safe and suitable to eat. These processes involve registering a business under the Food Act 2014, following a risk management programme, and adhering to all other Ministry for Primary Industry requirements applicable to the product and situation, says Mr Wilson.

Find out more

Source:  Ministry for Primary Industries

Food safety culture in good shape but there’s more to be done

The Food Safety Assurance and Advisory Council (FSAAC) and New Zealand Food Safety (part of the Ministry for Primary Industries) have released research into the food safety culture in New Zealand food businesses.

The FSAAC was established in 2014 to provide the Ministry for Primary Industries with high-level independent strategic advice and risk analysis on the performance of New Zealand’s food safety system. The council commissioned this research.

The chair of the FSAAC, Michael Ahie explains:

“We wanted to get a better understanding of how New Zealand food businesses are implementing and maintaining a strong food safety culture in the workplace. Food safety must be treated as a way of doing business and not just something that is discussed at a weekly meeting. This initial research provides a baseline that will be valuable for tracking improvements over time”.

New Zealand Food Safety’s director of food regulation, Paul Dansted says having a strong food safety culture is very important.

“It’s important for the health of our consumers and the strength of our economy that New Zealand food continues to be safe and suitable and we protect our good reputation. Most food business owners, managers, and staff have an inherent sense of pride in what they are doing and are motivated to build and maintain a good reputation for their business.

“But there is still work to do to ensure consistency across all types and sizes of food businesses, and right across the supply chain, whether it’s growing, harvesting, importing, processing, transporting, storing, exporting, or selling. Part of having a world-leading food safety system is that we must always look at continuous improvement. This research helps to identify areas where we excel and areas where we can do better.”

Nine hundred food business and 193 employees spanning all areas of the food supply chain from manufacturers to retailers were surveyed.

Overall, the results show that New Zealand food businesses have a strong commitment to food safety, Mr Dansted said.

Food businesses are doing well with keeping customer safety top of mind and having formalised food safety policies and procedures – 95% of them say they had policies and rules in place to identify and deal with food safety risks.

Good leadership with driving food safety culture is reflected in 75% of employees surveyed saying their managers visibly show support for food safety and walk the talk.

On the other hand, the research indicates businesses need to have specific food safety goals and key performance indicators in place, and reward employees for taking part in the day-to-day improvement of their food safety practices.  Businesses also need to develop a more inclusive and shared sense of responsibility for food safety across the whole organisation.

Only 3% of food businesses surveyed report data on their food safety performance back to their employees.

“This research helps us to build a better picture of how food businesses view and develop food safety cultures both internally and across their supply chain. New Zealand Food Safety has been providing more effective food safety tools for businesses,” Mr Dansted said.

“We have received very positive feedback on our new food safety templates, resources and guidance, and the way we have worked in partnership to develop them.”

A food safety guide aimed at boards, directors, chief executives, and business owners will be released next month as NZFS continues to help food businesses to support their work in developing a strong food safety culture.

More information about the research can be found HERE. 

Source:  Ministry for Primary Industries

Cheesemakers can look forward to an easing of the regulatory burden

Cheesemakers are set to benefit from a more modern and common-sense approach to food safety regulation, says Food Safety Minister Damien O’Connor.

A guest at The Great Eketahuna Cheese Festival, Mr O’Connor launched the Food Safety Template for Cheesemakers – a tool to help cheesemakers producing cheese for New Zealand and Australia to meet food safety requirements.

Cheese producers are required under the Food Act and the Animal Products Act to have a written plan to manage food safety risks on a day-to-day basis.

Over the years this has become burdensome and costly for cheesemakers who build plans from scratch and have them verified under two laws, Mr O’Connor acknowledged.

The Food Safety Template for Cheesemakers, developed for the first time in partnership with artisan cheesemakers, pulls together regulatory requirements – making it easier and cheaper to meet important food safety standards.

Last week Mr O’Connor launched New Zealand Food Safety, a new business unit in the Ministry for Primary Industries.

It is charged with looking at ways to make compliance easier for small, regional and rural food businesses “because their nimbleness and creativity are key to helping the food producing sector reach higher up the value chain,” he said.

Source: Minister of Food Safety

 

 

NZ Food Safety is launched as a new business unit within MPI

Food Safety Minister Damien O’Connor, launching New Zealand Food Safety, said it will help raise the profile of food safety for all New Zealanders.

It is one of four new business units created within the Ministry for Primary Industries to create a stronger focus on keys areas of work, along with Biosecurity New Zealand, Fisheries New Zealand and Forestry New Zealand.

New Zealand Food Safety brings together about 390 people from the Ministry for Primary Industries’ food standard setting, verification and assurance teams into one strong and visible business unit.

Everyone had a vital role to play in food safety – from farmers and producers to hospitality workers, small business-owners and families at home, Mr O’Connor said.

“New Zealand Food Safety’s job is to ensure that everyone within the system has the skills, knowledge and experience to play their part”.

Mr O’Connor has asked New Zealand Food Safety to make compliance easier for businesses – particularly for small, regional or rural food businesses including providing guidance to market stallholders, rolling out templates to reduce costs and allowing those operating under several food safety laws to have one plan.

“Small businesses are vital to New Zealand’s economy. We need to be more focused on supporting and understanding them,” he said.

“Their nimbleness and creativity are key to helping our food producing sector stay ahead of consumer trends and reach higher up the value chain.”

Source: Minister of Agriculture