Auckland Council has adopted a new Food Safety Information Bylaw 2020, following public consultation from December 2019 to February 2020.
The new bylaw replaces the existing bylaw that expires this month. It aims to help Aucklanders make informed decisions about purchasing food and to incentivise food businesses to achieve high food safety standards.
A key addition to the bylaw is a digital food grade display requirement. This gives food businesses the flexibility to display on their digital platforms (e.g. their own website) either an image of their food grade, or a statement of their food grade and link to council’s food grade search webpage.
Councillor Daniel Newman, who chaired the Food Safety Bylaw Review Panel, says:
"This new bylaw will give Aucklanders more certainty about food safety whether they are dining in or ordering from a website or other platform that the food business manages."
The new bylaw comes into effect on May 23, but considering COVID-19 challenges, the Governing Body agreed to delay requirements for digitally displaying food grade information until 31 December 2020.
“We understand the significant impact of the COVID-19 lockdown and the pressure it is putting on all businesses in Auckland—including food businesses,” says Newman, “in light of this unprecedented situation, we are delaying the digital display requirement to give Auckland’s food businesses more time to focus on their core operations and to avoid imposing further requirements on them during this difficult time.”
Feedback shows strong public support
The new bylaw follows public consultation and feedback from local boards.
“We received feedback from 1498 people and organisations – which is a fantastic turnout for this bylaw and significantly more than the 31 pieces of feedback received for the 2013 bylaw," says Newman.
“We also have heard from submissions that by and large the bylaw is working and expect it to continue to do so with the new requirements.”
Councillor Linda Cooper, Chair of the council’s Regulatory Committee, says the requirements are ultimately about keeping the public safe from foodborne illness.
“Under the current bylaw around 7321 Auckland-only based restaurants, cafés, bars, and takeaways serving food to the public are required to display a food grade.
“Over time, we have seen improvements in the number of ‘A’ food grades issued to food businesses. Last year 89 per cent of those verified by the council received an ‘A’ grade. Only 0.1 per cent of food business were issued a ‘D’ or ‘E’ food grade.”
The council’s Food Safety Information Bylaw 2020 will continue to apply to most Auckland food businesses, such as most cafés, bars, takeaways and restaurants. However, the bylaw does not apply to food businesses with establishments in Auckland and other regions that are registered with the Ministry for Primary Industries, such as nationwide chain restaurants.
Key aspects of the new Food Safety Information Bylaw 2020 include to:
- continue current rules for food businesses that operate under a Template Food Control Plan under the Food Act 2014, serve the public and are registered and verified by the council under the Food Act 2014 to display a food grade. This means most Auckland-only cafés, restaurants and takeaways
- clarify rules for food grade display at physical premises by specifying display locations
- introduce a new rule to display an image of the food grade, or a statement of the food grade and a link to council’s food grade webpage, on the food business homepage or similar landing page or screen of any digital platform that relates to the food business and where the food business has control over the content about the business.