Meat Act 1981
Technical Directive

Meat and Seafood Technical Directive Priority:  Normal
From:  Tony Zohrab Director Animal Products (NK) File: 
Date:  20 December 2001 (1) Publication Ref:  Meat Act 1981
Animal Products Act 1999

TD 01/198 Regulatory Requirements: Specifications Clarifications; Complaints and Appeals Procedure: Animal Products Act 1999 (APA) and Meat Act 1981

1 Definitions
1.1 For the purposes of this TD the use of the term "specification clarification" applies to all clarifications relating to the APA, the Meat Act, any associated Regulations, Orders-in-Council and any OMAR or TD issued by MAF Food.
1.2 The term "Licensee" when used in this document refers to that person holding a licence issued under the terms of the Meat Act 1981.
1.3 Any term or expression that is defined in the Animal Products Act 1999 and used but not defined in this document has the same meaning as in this Act.
2 Background
2.1 Technical Directive (TD)98/89 "MAF Verification Agency: Specification Clarification and Compliance Resolution" has expired under the sunset provisions for TDs. It is now timely to restate the principles outlined in TD98/89 and to update the procedures for specifications clarifications as it appears that problems outlined in Section 2.3 of this TD are still occurring.
2.2 Under the Animal Products Act 1999, there are provisions for the registration of alternative verification agencies. Due to the restrictions placed on New Zealand by major overseas trading partners, it is likely that MAF VA will be the only verification agency responsible for export premises in the immediate future. However, it should be noted that, for the purposes of this document, the term "verifier" is synonymous with MAF VA.
2.3 The MAF Verification Agency (MAF VA) has a role in responding to enquiries from parties subject to MAF specifications and the supporting legislation. Assistance is often sought by industry in locating the appropriate requirement(s) for a particular circumstance or for clarification of the effect or meaning of various requirements. TD98/89 set out a procedure for this process in an attempt to eliminate the problems identified at the time, that included;
  • Multiple entry points to both MAF Food and MAF VA.
  • Advice received by one party not readily available to others.
  • Essential background information being overlooked.
  • The tendency for some parties to "shop around" until they receive the answer that suits their purpose (even though the answer may be wrong).
  • The lack of consistency resulting from the above is seen to be detrimental to all concerned and leaves the NZ Competent Authority (MAF Food) exposed to criticism from industry organisations and overseas auditors.
2.4 In addition to the above, the KPMG report commissioned by MAF Food and the Meat Industry Association highlighted the need for improved communication between MAF Food/MAF VA and industry.
3 Specifications Clarification Procedure: Operator/Licensee and MAF VA
3.1 MAF VA personnel are able to provide advice and clarification of MAF Food specifications but cannot vary, amend, or provide exemptions to the specifications, unless specified within the specification or relevant legislation. The only exception to this is where there is a specific written delegation from MAF Food to do so.
3.2 The initial point of contact for operators/licensees seeking clarification of specifications, including overseas market access requirements (OMARs), will be the MAF VA Technical Supervisor (TS), the Travelling Technical Supervisor (TTS) responsible for the premises, or the signing officer dealing with certification. Operators/licensees contacting MAF Food directly will be referred back to the MAF VA TS/TTS except under the circumstances described in Section 4.1 of this TD or, in the case of an exporter, in the Official Assurances Programme (OAP) Part 12, Section 61.
3.3 Where the TS/TTS is unable to provide the clarification sought by the operator/licensee, the TS/TTS will refer the query to the appropriate MAF VA Team Leader (TL) who will, if necessary, consult the MAF VA Agency Technical Manager (ATM). The ATM may utilise the expertise of the MAF VA Technical Specialist Group (TSG).

NB: In certain circumstances, and with the agreement of the TS/TTS, the operator/licensee may directly approach the ATM.

3.4 Where the ATM is unable to resolve any issues raised s/he will refer the query to the appropriate MAF Food Programme Manager or other MAF Food personnel. The ATM will provide written clarification to the operator/licensee and TS/TTS after any necessary consultation with the appropriate MAF Food Programme Manager or other MAF Food personnel.
3.5 Official communication with foreign governments and New Zealand diplomatic posts remains the responsibility of MAF Food as set out in the OAP, Part 2, Section 7. Exporters seeking MAF Food assistance with problem consignments must submit the relevant data to MAF VA at Central Certification, Auckland, for an assessment and subsequent recommendation to MAF Food.
4 Complaint and Appeal Provisions for Operator/Licensee
4.1 Where any operator/licensee believes, after following the flow chart in Appendix A, that information, clarification, or sanctioned is demonstrably unfair, inaccurate, or impinges on the operator/licensee’s ability to conduct operations, they may contact the Director Animal Products (DAP).
4.2 The operator/licensee is required to advise the TS/TTS and any other MAF VA personnel directly affected, prior to any direct contact with DAP. The operator/licensee should be aware that the likely first action of the DAP will be to seek the views of the TS/TTS or other affected MAF VA personnel.
4.3 DAP, after investigating the situation, must advise the operator/licensee and MAF VA in writing of the outcome of such investigation.
4.4 There are provisions in the Animal Products Act 1999 for operators/Licensees to appeal to the Director-General (D-G) in cases where they believe they have been treated unfairly by MAF officials. These provisions are to be used after the procedures outlined in sections 4.1 to 4.3 above have been followed without resolution. Under Section 86 of the Animal Products Act 1999, the D-G’s powers may be delegated to other MAF officials. In this instance, the powers of the D-G are delegated to the Director Animal Products.
5 Additional Procedure
5.1 The internal MAF procedure for ensuring that specification clarifications and/or complaints and appeals are dealt with in the prescribed manner, and disseminated to all interested parties, is set out in a Policy document that will be agreed to and signed by the MAF VA ATM and the Director Animal Products. This will be available to interested parties on the MAF Food web-site. Click here for the hot-link to the site. A flow chart outlining the full procedure for specification clarifications and/or complaints and appeals is attached as Appendix A to this TD.
  1. Implementation

From the date of issue of this TD.

Appendix A - Click Here

Key contacts