Verification of your food business
Getting checked or 'verified'
All food businesses need to get checked to ensure they are making and selling safe and suitable food. This is called 'verification'. The verification is carried out by an environmental health officer from Taupo District Council or an independent verifier, after you have applied for food registration with a food control plan or national programme.
How often you get checked will depend on whether you are a high or low risk business. It will also depend on how well you are following good safety practices and keeping records. If you are doing well, you will be checked less frequently.
The Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) have identified five verification criteria for the purpose of checking your level of compliance with good safety practices and keeping records - as required with a food control plan or a national programme.
These major criteria include:
|Confidence in management||Includes registration, scope of operations, management of the plan and corrective actions.|
|Food safety behaviour||Includes staff training, personal hygiene, knowledge of products, food standards code compliance.|
|Process control||How food is managed, temperatures, hazard control, suppliers and receiving goods.|
|Environmental control||Includes cleaning, storage, pest control, maintenance and premises design.|
|Compliance history||Includes improvements and previous issues as well as how corrective actions and complaints have been managed|
Within each of these criteria there are several verification topics some of which are mandatory for verifiers to review. Initial verifications cover all audit topics with subsequent verifications covering the mandatory and food safety audit topics identified by MPI.
Verification topics not covered during a verification are generally reviewed in following verifications. We will need to verify enough topics to be certain you understand how to manage your food safely.
The verification process assigns outcomes to each of the criteria relating to the business. In order these are:
|Performing||Fully meets the requirements of the legislation or relevant standard.|
|Conforming||Adequately meets the requirements, but areas for improvement will likely be noted to ensure systems are improved.|
|Non-conforming||Applicable requirements are not being met, but are not likely to affect food safety unless they deteriorate. Corrective actions or recommendations may be issued.|
|Non-compliance||Poses a potential food safety risk and can be referenced to an offence. Corrective actions will be issued.|
|Critical non-compliance||Poses an immediate public health risk that likely triggers enforcement.|
Verifications have only two outcomes; acceptable or unacceptable.
If your verification is acceptable then we are happy with the level of compliance. If it is unacceptable then we will likely issue corrective actions that require you to take relevant action to remedy the problem. An unacceptable outcome may be issued in several instances including: any instances of non-compliance or critical non-compliance, or a significant number of non-conformances.
Please note that we always require verifications to be closed out and may require additional information before doing so. This also applies to businesses with acceptable outcomes. We will agree a suitable timeframe to address any issues raised during the verification
Verification frequency under the Food Act 2014 is reliant on how well the business performs in their verifications. All new food control plan business registrations begin at a default frequency of 12 months. If a business has two consecutive acceptable verifications in a row then they will have their verification frequency reduced to every 18 months. If a national programme verification is acceptable then that premises moves automatically to the maximum verification frequency appropriate to that national programme.
If a food control plan business receives an unacceptable verification, then their verification frequency is increased to either nine, six or three months depending on the nature and severity of the problems identified. National programmes are also subject to the same level of decreases as food control plans. Consecutive unacceptable outcomes will result in a further increase of the verification frequency and may in some cases lead to enforcement. Please note that to reduce the verification frequency your business will require two consecutive acceptable verifications to increase one step.
Who can be your verifier
If you operate under a food control plan and register with Taupo District Council you will be verified by an environmental health officer from Taupo District Council.
If you operate under a national programme and register with Taupo District Council you can choose to be verified by an environmental health officer from Taupo District Council or you can elect to have a third party verifier. If you choose to engage a third party to verify your national programme please be aware a registration a letter from an approved verifier is required before Taupō District Council will accept your food registration. In some cases large companies or franchises may have preferred verifiers. If you are considering a third party verifier we recommend contacting more than one as costs can vary.
Preparing for a verification
There are several things you can do to prepare for your verification.
- Ensure your food control plan or relevant documentation is available and on site.
- Ensure you have adequate staff on to cover while the verification takes place.
- Ensure staff are well trained, familiar with the plan and understand the requirements.
- Records are organised and legible.
- If your own templates are being used then ensure they are logical and cover the required information.
- If electronic records are used then ensure they are accessible and logical.
- Set aside a suitable amount of time for the verification. In general we require at least two hours but it can take more time for some businesses.
How to close out a verification
Where a problem is identified your verifier may issue a corrective action request (CAR). CARs are areas of your business we would like to see an improvement in before we are happy to sign off the verification report. You can still receive corrective actions even if you have an acceptable outcome provided the matter is not considered non-compliant. In most cases we are happy to receive information via email, but in some cases we may revisit the premises to check compliance. This is more likely if your verification has been considered unacceptable. Note that time spent following up corrective actions is cost recoverable in all instances.
To help resolve corrective actions quickly and easily:
- Ensure the requested actions are completed to a high standard.
- Ensure any relevant records have been completed consistently and correctly.
- Complete any outstanding work or maintenance required.
- Ensure documentation is logical and correct.
- Ensure the requested information is present.
Please contact an environmental health officer if you do not understand what is required of you as failure to complete the requested actions will most likely result in another revisit.
Following the verification, if you are not happy with either the verifier or disagree with the outcome then you can make a complaint to Taupo District Council.
If you wish to make a complaint:
- Submit the details of your complaint to email@example.com or call 07 376 0899. Note the complaint must be in writing, state the grounds on which it is made and be submitted within 20 working days of the verification taking place.
- You will receive an initial response to your complaint acknowledging that it has been received. If the complaint is upheld then appropriate actions will be taken to resolve it. If not, then the original decisions made will stand and must be complied with.
- All information collected in response to a complaint is completely confidential.