New grub grades

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Every food outlet in Queenstown’s CBD has been graded for the first time – but not many are posting their results. 

The CBD is one of six areas in the country piloting a new food safety pro-gramme for the New Zealand Food Safety Authority. 

The NZFSA has given 119 Wakatipu outlets gradings, based on the results of annual inspections done by Queenstown Lakes District Council’s regulatory arm Lakes Environmental. 

They’ve been handed either an “A” for “excellent” food safety, “B” for “good” or “C” for “acceptable”.
For this three-month trial, finishing next Wednesday, it’s not compulsory for premises to display their grades – and most haven’t. 

Katie Filion, NZFSA’s food service grading project manager, says the majority of Queenstown CBD outlets were awarded a “B”. 

LE regulatory boss Lee Webster says they were marked on four criteria – training, food safety plans, cleanliness and maintenance. 

But Queenstown participants were cut some slack on the training aspect of the gradings due to the transient nature of the resort. In Dunedin, every staff member handling food needs formal hygiene training, Webster says. 

“That’s not going to work in Queenstown, as there’s too much of a transition in staff. If you’ve got one key person trained and that person trains other people who come and go, that’s going to work a lot easier.” 

QLDC resolved in 2007 that all Queenstown Lakes food premises should be graded, and that grade had to be displayed. 

However, it hung fire when it learnt NZFSA was preparing a national system. This could still be two and a half to three years away from being implemented. 

And now he’s seen what NZFSA is proposing, Webster will recommend QLDC starts its own similar system late this year or in early 2010. 

If outlets had to display their grades, it should help those with “B”s and “C”s lift their act, he believes. 

“If you’re a “B” and your next-door neighbour’s an “A” and you see people walking out of your premises to go next door, you’re more likely to improve to get to an “A” standard rather than us having to take enforcement.”