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LAWS THAT CAN BITE

by Stewart Germann,
last updated 03/04/2017

Franchises which serve or process food have to stay on top of hygiene and employment issues. Stewart Germann outlines some areas to think about

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In a busy café or restaurant, it’s sometimes easy to overlook details which can get franchisees and the brands they represent into big trouble. That’s why franchisors need to be aware of changing laws and provide guidance to their franchisees at all times. By staying ahead of the game, they protect the investment of all concerned.

Here are some areas that food franchisors and franchisees need to know about. Some of them are obvious, some of them less so – but all have the potential to have a big impact upon a franchised business.

 

Is it safe?

Food safety is important, and health grades can make or break a restaurant. In New Zealand, there are four statutes which govern the Ministry for Primary Industries’ food safety responsibilities. These are:
- Food Act 2014
- Animal Products Act 1999
- Agricultural Compounds and Veterinary Medicines Act 1997
- Wine Act 2003.

The most recently changed of these is the Food Act 2014 which came into force on 1 March 2016 and replaced the Food Act 1981. All food businesses, including restaurants and cafés with an alcohol licence, need to have registered under the new Food Act by 31 March 2017. Any business which has not registered is therefore in breach of the Act and commits an offence making it liable for infringement fees, with most offences incurring a fine from $300 to $450.

The new law doesn’t affect just traditional restaurants. As of this year, businesses such as early childhood education centres that serve food; processors of nuts, seeds or coffee beans; and manufacturers of food for vulnerable people like babies or the elderly also need to register.

Under the new rules, higher-risk businesses need to use a written plan for food safety. Under the Act, ‘safety means a condition in which food, in terms of its intended use, is unlikely to cause or lead to illness or injury to human life or public health.’

Councils are responsible for grading food premises: in greater Auckland, for example, the grading assessments are based on the Food Hygiene Regulations 1974, Auckland Council Food Safety Bylaw and Best Food Hygiene Practice. For each assessment, an Environmental Health Officer will inspect the standard, conduct and maintenance of the premises, process control, cleansing and sanitising, and staff training. Officers compare premises against a list of criteria and assign one of four grades – A, B, D and E. There is no C grade as all food premises are either above or below the average food safety standards. A equates to high, B good, D poor and E unsatisfactory. There is also a Pending grade meaning a new/recently transferred ownership. It is therefore essential for there to be high standards in food preparation and presentation, and for staff to be trained accordingly.

 

Discrimination is not OK

It is important to recognise that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBT) people have the same rights in New Zealand as other people. The Human Rights Act 1993 outlaws discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and, implicitly, gender identity/expression.

Some examples of discrimination still occur but significant progress has been made...

 

... the rest of this article is available in the latest issue of Franchise New Zealand magazine - download here to read it on your device or send for a free print copy to be posted to you at any New Zealand address.

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