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sandrafischer.jpgThe winter months are usually heralded by the onset of conference season, and this year was no exception with AsureQuality supporting over 10 events in the past quarter. It was great to catch up with many of you during this time and collaborate on how we can drive innovation and future proof New Zealand's food and agricultural industries. 

Winter has been particularly busy with our involvement in both the Mycoplasma Bovis and Myrtle Rust Biosecurity responses, alongside our regular food assurance work.

Our teams have largely completed their programme reviews, and are now planning to ensure seamless service delivery as they move into what is shaping up to be a busy spring period. Like everyone in the industry, they’re hoping for a little less rain to give the fields a chance to dry out!

Changes to both the NZ Food Act and Infant Formula regulations in China are keeping people busy. We’ve covered some of these revisions in this newsletter, but if you need any further clarification please get in touch.

On the international front, our Singapore laboratory has expanded its operational footprint, and Global Proficiency has increased its scope of accreditation to include preparation of Certified Reference Materials.
We hope you enjoy the update, and as always, welcome your feedback. If you need further information on any of the topics covered please do not hesitate to contact me.



In this edition:


The Chinese consumer market is continuing to offer tremendous opportunities for exporters, but keeping up to date with on-going regulatory changes can be a challenge.

The CFDA (China Food and Drug Administration) is currently rolling out changes to regulations of health food claims and labelling for all products sold in China. New Zealand food and beverage businesses are required to comply with Standard 1.2.7 that regulates claims about the nutrient content and health implications of a food. This law applies to what is claimed on the pack, as well as in advertising and marketing.

To provide some clarity around these changes, AsureQuality and intellectual property specialists James & Wells have joined together to provide a free seminar on health food claims.

The seminar aims to provide an understanding of the regulations both in China and New Zealand, and what it means in terms of compliance and potential competitive advantage. The seminar will also look at strategies to ensure brand retention and ownership in China.

Speakers will include Pam Whitfield, Assurance Marks Manager at AsureQuality, Stephanie Hadley, Solicitor and Food and Beverage Innovation team member at James & Wells, and Johnathan Chen, Head of Asia Division and Food and Beverage Innovation team member also from James & Wells.

Faster method introduced for detecting Salmonella, Listeria spp. and Listeria monocytogenes  to improve test specificity.

AsureQuality is now offering real-time pathogen testing with GENE-UP® PCR innovation technology, allowing us to deliver results in just one day. GENE-UP® is a commercial PCR-based molecular diagnostic system for the detection of pathogens, manufactured by bioMérieux, and offers a faster method for detecting Salmonella, Listeria spp. and Listeria monocytogenes. Backed by over a century of experience and AFNOR and AOAC certified, GENE-UP® also offers dual detection using FRET technology and Melt analysis, improving the specificity of the test. This means there are less false positive results and better reliability compared to other technologies.

Most PCR tests use only fluorescence to conclude a positive result, however the GENE-UP method incorporates fluorescent markers combined with highly specific melting point analysis. Melting point analysis is a reference temperature specific to the target organism DNA, and this innovative dual detection approach means less false positive results.

AsureQuality Gluten/Gliadin test method granted Official Method of Analysis status

AsureQuality's Gluten / Gliadin test method (which uses the Competitive ELISA Technique for determination and has a limit of quantitation of 10 mg/kg (ppm)) has been recognised as an AACCI Official Method (AACCI 38-55.01), and  granted the status of Official Method of Analysis by AOAC International.  It has been codified as AOAC 2015.05, with AsureQuality as the reference. It was audited and accredited by IANZ in July this year. 

The test method is used for a range of fermented/partially hydrolysed products such as beers, starch powders/syrups, malted extracts (sorghum and molasses), hops and soy sauces.

This new method now sits alongside the existing Sandwich ELISA technique for the quantitative analysis of Gluten / Gliadin from wheat, rye and barley in raw products such as flours, processed foods and spices.

Please contact Kristoph Cave for testing or operational queries and Gordana Prijic / George Joseph for any technical enquiries.

New Standards Introduced for HACCP

Under the NZQA TROC (targeted review of qualifications), our HACCP training has undergone a full review to meet the new Unit Standards released this year. This has meant a change to the Unit Standard in our Introductory HACCP course. Our Advanced HACCP course has been updated to assess for unit 28264, with the supplementary unit 28265 available on request for post course assessment.

If you need the new Unit Standard 28265 we are able to provide high quality face to face or skype training, which also offers you the opportunity to talk to an expert meat inspector and assessor to gain a full understanding of the HACCP system.

Introducing Food Skills Training

We have now launched a way for larger companies to partner with AsureQuality for subsidised, low cost, entry- level training and recognition of their employees’ previous experience. Food Skills is a two-month, Unit Standard-based training plan and covers topics such as:
  • Hygiene and food safety requirements
  • Quality assurance practices
  • Safe working practices
  • Documentation requirements
  • Cleaning and sanitising

A minimum of eight trainees is required before a course can be run.

AsureQuality's Job Skills Training is provided in partnership with Primary ITO and offers expert training for staff with no direct costs to employers. There is also a Job skill Advanced Programme that can follow on from this course.

Job Skills is designed for both new and experienced employees within the meat industry who have little or no formal training. Its completion goes into the New Zealand Certificate in Meat Processing (Introductory, Level 3, 20 credits). The training is structured over four sections and includes Health and Safety, Food Safety and Quality Assurance, Communication and Meat Processing and provides an insight into current food safety issues.

Update on the Food Act 2014 changes

The Food Act 2014, which came into force on 1 March 2016, allows businesses to manage their own food safety based on their level of risk. This means lower costs and requirements for those will less hazards. While all new businesses need to follow the new rules immediately, existing businesses have a three-year transition period depending on their business type. You can find out when you need to transition by using the following link to the MPI website.

All customers that require a Custom Food Control Plan will need to have their plans evaluated first before registering under the new Act. In order to make sure your plan meets the required criteria and to allow for any adjustments that may be required, it’s a good idea to have it evaluated as soon as possible. AsureQuality can carry out these evaluations for you, and ensure you are fully prepared when the time comes to register. Attached is the transition timeline (PDF).

The following are some of the products that will most likely require an evaluation under the new Act.
  • Meals and prepared food
  • Food for vulnerable populations
  • Meat, poultry or fish products
  • Dairy products
  • Fresh, ready-to-eat salads
  • Commercially sterilised food products
  • Vegetable protein and other protein products
  • Non-shelf-stable sauces, spreads, dips, soups, broths, gravies or dressings
  • Wholesale baked goods (when more than just bread is made)
  • Food service, food retailers (preparing or manufacturing food)
  • Processed egg products

We have just completed a substantial expansion of our Singapore site including the development of a new microbiology area and the upgrade of the chemistry laboratory. The extension of both these facilities now means we are able to extend our scope of testing to include the wider health supplement and food flavouring manufacturers. 

The laboratory has also recently undergone a successful SINGLAS audit and received the following accreditation and validation of new methods.


Method Reference


Vitamins A & E

AOAC 2012.10

Dairy products, Infant formula

Fructan / FOS

AOAC 999.03

Dairy products, Infant formula


AOAC 2012.15

Dairy products, Infant formula


AOAC 2012.20

Dairy products, Infant formula

Fatty acids

AOAC 2012.13

Dairy products, Infant formula

Selenium, chromium and molybdenum

AOAC 2011.19

Dairy products, Infant formula


AOAC 2016.02

Dairy products, Infant formula


AOAC 996.06

Dairy products, Infant formula

Total sterols

In-house method

Dairy products, Infant formula

In July the Lab extended its Saturday operating hours for Chemistry testing to improve TATs.

Following an extensive assessment period, we can now confirm that we have been granted CAB (Conformity Assessment Body) approval for conducting Costco GMP Supplier Audits and Costco Addendum Audits. All food manufacturers supplying to Costco are subject to its food safety expectations and audit requirements.
Costco is a major US retain chain focusing on wholesale food and other consumer product sales, with 750 outlets. AsureQuality has been aware of its global reach and importance to a number of NZ exporters particularly in the horticulture, seafood and honey industries, and has been working hard for many months to gain CAB approval to audit its standards to ensure our customers have access to their chosen markets. We are now one of only a few global CABs to have this approved status.
This approval has already been positively endorsed by industry and will underpin a number of other programmes such as BRC, SQF, and FSSC 22000.
Science and technology underpin food assurance at all points of the value chain, helping us deliver our assurance activities and capture information. That’s why our Science and Technology plan looks across all of our testing, audit, inspection, training and biosecurity business interests. 
Continuous advancements in automation are a welcome innovation and a key theme in our plan. Automation transforms the "who can do it?" to the "what can do it?" and increases productivity, efficiency, reliability and confidence. We are currently pursuing a number of topics and initiatives under this theme, one of these being robotics. We have now kicked off two projects to advance the use of robotic technology within our Auckland and Wellington laboratories and their testing services. The first, to bring in more technologies that fully automate a test, and the second, to automate manual, labour intensive and repetitive processes. The latter mitigates concentration and repetitive strain risks and their consequences, and also offers productivity, reduced training burden and, for some more subjective processes, advantages in consistency of treatment.

We look forward to keeping you up to date on the outcomes and implementation of these initiatives.