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Dunedin City Council – Kaunihera-a-rohe o Otepoti
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Commercial food premises

If you want to open or take-over a food business we strongly recommend you discuss your plans with Environmental Health staff well before you kick off.

There are new rules which have come into effect as from 1 March 2016 so even if you have been in the industry before, the process will have changed.

The Food Act 2014

The Food Act 2014 aims to ensure food for sale is safe and suitable.

The main feature of the Food Act 2014 is a sliding scale where businesses that are a higher risk in terms of food safety will operate under more stringent food safety requirements and checks than lower risk food businesses.

Higher risk businesses will operate under a written food control plan (FCP) whereby the operator will identify food safety risks and steps they will need to take to manage these risks. The majority of high risk businesses can use a template FCP but for some specific businesses, they must develop their own plan to suit which is referred to as a custom FCP.

Businesses that will use a template FCP include;

  • food service businesses such as restaurants, cafes, takeaways, catering, or hospital kitchens
  • food retailers that prepare or manufacture and sell food – including retail butchers, bakeries, fishmongers, delis, and supermarkets.

Businesses that will need to develop a custom FCP include;

  • manufactured food for vulnerable populations such as babies or the elderly
  • manufactured fresh ready-to-eat salads and other meals, non-shelf stable sauces, dips or dressings
  • manufactured meat, poultry, fish, dairy or processed egg products.

Lower risk businesses will operate under one of three levels of national programmes (NP) whereby operators must follow the requirements for producing safe food that is set in the Regulations.

NP 1(lowest risk) will apply to businesses such as:

  • transporters or distributors of food products
  • horticultural food producers and horticultural packing operations (pack-houses)
  • retailers of manufacturer-packaged ice cream and iced confectionery

NP 2(moderate risk) will apply to businesses such as:

  • bread bakeries
  • manufacturers of jams, chips and confectionery
  • manufacturers of sauces and spreads

NP 3(highest risk) will apply to businesses such as:

  • brewers and distillers
  • dairies
  • service stations

Implementation timetables

All new food operators starting after 1 March 2016 are required to be registered under the new Act immediately.

For business operators already trading before 1 March 2016, there is a transition timeframe with which they must move from their existing registration and operating requirements to the new Food Act regime. By 28 February 2019, all food businesses will be operating under the new Act.

Further information about the Food Act 2014 can be found on the Ministry for Primary Industries website in the related information section.

The Food Grading Bylaw 2015

The Food Grading Bylaw 2015 allows for food businesses that are registered with the Dunedin City Council and sell food to the public, to be graded with an A to D grade. The grade allocated is determined by an assessment of the confidence in management, the structure of the premises, the levels of cleaning and sanitation and staff training. The business grade is allocated at the time of verification and remains current until the next time an officer visits, e.g. the next verification visit or if a complaint investigation is carried out.

Any premises graded D may be closed until it is up to an acceptable standard and does not pose a public health risk.

You can download and print the Food Grading Bylaw 2015 from the related information section.

Pre-Purchase Information

We are often asked to inspect an existing food premises by an intending purchaser prior to the business changing hands. Such requests are generally declined but if you are intending to purchase an existing food premises, there is some information we recommend you seek:

  • Apply for a Land Information Memorandum (LIM) which will provide any information we hold regarding the property. Information may include the official address, legal description; storm water and sewerage drain positions, presence of hazardous contaminants, rates, consents, notices, orders, requisitions, etc.
  • Alternatively, apply for a Land Information Report which is a partial LIM designed to relate to up to four specific areas that you request.

You can download and print the LIM Application Form from the related information section or alternatively apply online via the Online LIM Application link in the related information section.

‘Where Do I Fit?’

The Ministry for Primary Industries have developed a ‘Where Do I Fit?’ on-line tool to find out which category a new food business may fit into and what rules you will need to follow under the Food Act 2014. You can access this tool from the link in the related information section.

Certificates of Registration

Before anyone is permitted to prepare and sell food, the business must hold a Certificate of Registration under the Food Act 2014.

For the vast majority of food businesses, registration will be held with Dunedin City Council although there are some situations where registration with the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) is more appropriate. Environmental Health staff can guide you to MPI if this is applicable to you.

The process of registering a business is relatively easy but there will be other requirements you will need to develop and implement before trading. We strongly recommend you discuss your proposal with Environmental Health staff well before the point of registration so we can direct you along the right track. A mentoring session (see below) at this point may also prove beneficial to guide you through the development and implementation of a FCP or NP.

When you are at the point of registering your business, we can provide you with the appropriate resources you may need such as food control plans, record keeping diaries or template sheets etc.

There is a fee to register your business. See Environmental Health Fees and Charges in the related information section.

You can register online or download and print an Application for Registration (single site or multi-site) from the related information section.

Mentoring and/or new-build opening visits

Although these are not compulsory, Environmental Health staff can provide mentoring sessions and/or premises opening visits. Just speak to an Environmental Health Officer to make a booking.

1. Mentoring provides explanatory guidance to educate owners and/or managers on how to develop and implement a Food Control Plan or National Programme so they work best for you. These sessions can take about an hour and prove very useful to those new to the food industry or for those who haven’t operated a similar system before.

2. Opening visits by Environmental Health staff, of newly constructed/renovated buildings may be beneficial to check on building progress before you intend opening to trade. We can identify possible issues that could cause food safety risks if uncompleted once trading.

There is a fee for these services. See Environmental Health Fees and Charges in the related information section.

Verification visits

Once your business is registered you will receive a verification visit within 6 weeks of your business opening.  Following your first verification, the frequency of future visits will depend upon your history in that business and the risk based system the business is registered under. Your business will be graded at the same time as a verification visit is being carried out.

Officers may arrive at anytime, not necessarily by appointment and must be allowed access to all parts of your premises and food safety records.

Any matters that are of concern will be discussed with you at the time of verification and timeframes to correct any issues will be agreed to before we leave. The outcome of our visit will be forwarded to you in a formal report.

When a re-visit is necessary to ensure issues have been satisfactorily addressed, officers will return around the date agreed upon.

There are separate fees for verification visits and return visits. See Environmental Health Fees and Charges in the related information section.

Food Act 2014 Registration

Before you start you will need to establish whether your application is for:

  • Template Food Control Plan
  • Custom Food Control Plan
  • National Programme 1 / 2 / 3

If you are unsure where your business fits, please check on the Ministry for Primary Industry website (link to external website, new window).

If you are Custom Food Plan you will need to register with Ministry for Primary Industry.

If you are Template Food Control Plan or National Programme please complete the Application For Registration Under Food Act 2014 online form.

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