All food businesses must be verified (audited) to check compliance with the act. The operator of a new food business that is subject to a template Food Control Plan or National Programme must ensure that the plan and the food business are verified within six weeks of registration.
After the initial verification, further verifications are required to be done within the following timeframes:
- Template Food Control Plans: at least once a year as long as the results of previous verifications are of an acceptable standard.
- National Programmes
- Level 3 (higher risk): verification will be required at least once every two years as long as the results of previous verifications are of an acceptable standard.
- Level 2 (medium risk): verification will be required at least once every three years as long the results of previous verifications are of an acceptable standard and no compliance matters exist against the business.
- Level 1 (lower risk): no subsequent verifications are required unless the initial verification resulted in an unacceptable outcome, or compliance matters exist.
We are a recognised agency under the Food Act to verify Template Food Control Plans and some National Programmes. If you register a National Programme, you have the option to use a third-party auditor. See the MPI's Recognised Agencies or Persons list.
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.
How food is managed, temperatures, hazard control, suppliers and receiving goods.
Includes cleaning, storage, pest control, maintenance and premises design.
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:
Fully meets the requirements of the legislation or relevant standard.
Adequately meets the requirements, but areas for improvement will likely be noted to ensure systems are improved.
Applicable requirements are not being met, but are not likely to affect food safety unless they deteriorate. Corrective actions or recommendations may be issued.
Poses a potential food safety risk and can be referenced to an offence. Corrective actions will be issued.
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.
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.