By now, you’ve probably heard about the new Food Act, which came into effect in March this year. Since then, Ministry for Primary Industries has been monitoring the new law, and listening to feedback from businesses. It is currently working with businesses to see how it can make things easier for them.

The new law changes the way food safety is regulated. It is designed to improve food safety by creating different rules for different businesses based on risk, and putting more emphasis on what people do, rather than where they do it.

If you’re a restaurant or café, the new rules mean using a food control plan – a written plan for managing food safety on a day-to-day basis and keeping a record of what you do. This is designed to help you spot if things go wrong, so that you can take action to prevent anyone getting sick. MPI know it can be challenging to change the way you do things, which is why it is working with businesses to try and make the plan as easy to use as possible.

MPI had some feedback to say that the plans are too long, so it is working on ideas to reduce the length and create a digital tool to help people find the parts they need. Last month MPI held a workshop in Wellington to test our ideas and will be testing them at further workshops around the country.

Based on feedback, MPI is proposing some other changes to food safety rules. These changes clarify some rules, make minor adjustments, and reduce some of the requirements. You can find out more about these changes, and give feedback, in the ‘Food Act consultation’ on the MPI website.

Remember, food service businesses with an alcohol license – including restaurants, cafes and bars – need to register under the new law by the end of March next year. Food service businesses without an alcohol license have until March 2018.

If you don’t know much about the new rules yet, the MPI website is a good place to start. Use MPI’s online tool, Where Do I Fit? to check how the new rules apply to you. You can also see the list of upcoming workshops to see if there’s one in your area.

As the new law is rolled out, MPI wants to know what’s working for food businesses and what isn’t. Please give us feedback on anything you find challenging or think could be improved. You can find all the information you need at or contact your local council or MPI for more information.