Food control plans and national programmes
The Food Act 2014 requires food businesses to create a plan for making and selling food in a safe and suitable way. The plan you need to complete - a food control plan or national programme - depends on the type of food business you have. The rules are not ‘one size fits all’ - there are different rules depending on the food you’re making or selling.
|Which option is best for your food business?|
|For help finding out which plan is most appropriate for your food business go to the Ministry for Primary Industries website and use the 'My Food Rules' tool or talk to one of our environment health officers by calling 07 376 0899.|
Food control plans
Food control plans (FCP) are written plans for managing food safety on a day-to-day basis. These are used by higher risk businesses. There are two types of FCP. Most businesses use a template FCP provided by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI). Some larger businesses choose to build their own custom food plan.
Template food control plans
Template food control plans are plans that enable a business to fulfil the requirements of the Food Act 2014.
They are based on pre-approved templates that need to be completed, implemented and kept on site. The templates need to be filled out by the operator and cover a range of topics including staff training, cleaning records, maintenance records and temperature records among others.
They encourage food operators to take direct responsibility for providing their customers with safe and suitable food by giving them nationally consistent measures that are intended to help them manage food safety in their business.
In general most businesses will require two templates - a ‘Simply Safe and Suitable Pack template food control plan’ and a ‘Record Blanks’ template. Printed copies can be purchased from Taupo District Council for $25 or you can download and print templates from the MPI website.
A food control plan requires some initial input of information, but once established only a minimal amount of work will be required on a daily basis. All staff at the premises should be aware of the food control plan and the recording requirements.
It is important to note the method of record-keeping at the premises is up to the operator. The Record Blanks document provides some pre-made templates for convenience, but the operator may choose to design their own templates. Operators must ensure their templates capture the necessary information and they can be accessed when asked by the verifier.
Custom food control plans
Some businesses may operate outside of the scope of the template food control plan. For these businesses an MPI registered custom food control plan may be required. Custom food control plans allow greater flexibility for a business, but require a significant initial input before they can be verified. They may involve proving your current methods are safe and suitable and this may entail lab testing to prove this.
Taupo District Council is not currently a recognised agency for verifying a custom food control plan. All custom food control plans need to be evaluated before the business can begin operating so forward planning is essential.
If you think your business may be subject to a custom food control plan then please contact an environmental health officer on 07 376 0899 to discuss.
Lower and medium risk businesses follow a national programme. If you're under a national programme, you don't need a written plan (or develop written procedures), but must register, meet food safety standards, keep some records, and get checked. Like food control plans, national programmes require food businesses to develop a system to demonstrate food is safe to eat and they are compliant with the Food Act 2014.
There are three levels of national programmes, which are based on the food safety risk of the activities a business does:
- Level 1 – lower risk
- Level 2 – medium risk
- Level 3 – higher risk.
Guidance documents are available from MPI for food businesses working under national programmes to help manage food safety risks. However, businesses will need to assess the material and apply it to their premises as appropriate. This may involve developing your own processes in order to manage food safety risks at your business.
Using higher risk based measures
In certain circumstances businesses ordinarily subject to national programmes may choose to opt up to a food control plan. This is voluntary, but some prefer to have pre-written processes to follow. This option is not available to all businesses and it is strongly recommended you contact an environmental health officer before taking up this option.
All businesses opting up to higher risk-based measures retain the verification frequency attributed to their original expected registration type. For example a national programme level two business running a FCP would only be verified every three years.