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16 August 2016

Important Notice for Horticulture businesses (growers, packhouses, distributors) from the Ministry for Primary Industries

Health officials in Havelock North have issued a boil water notice for Council water supply. See: http://www.hastingsdc.govt.nz/boil-drinking-water-notice-remains-hn?page=6

A ‘boil water’ notice is issued when a drinking water supply has been contaminated and can make people sick. You can’t see the microbes that will make you sick, and the water won’t look, smell, or taste different.

Council-supplied water must be brought to a boil and boiled for one minute, before use. Re-boil water that is not used in 24 hours.

People can be made sick when contaminated water is added to drinks, to food, or is used to rinse or clean food or the surfaces that food touches. Affected staff could also be a source of contamination for your food. Here are some actions to take if you might be affected by the Havelock North council boil water notice.

Identify water use that could contaminate food.

Consider the areas of your business where council-supplied water is being used e.g:

  • Irrigation water (sprinklers, drip-irrigators)
  • Water used in produce washes, or sanitising washes
  • Water used to wash or clean/sanitise equipment or surfaces that come into contact with food.
  • Water used to clean other equipment or areas (non-food contact).
  • Water supplied to employees, including:
  • Drinking water
  • Water for meal preparation and washing utensils, cups, glasses, cutlery etc.
  • Water for handwashing, and in toilets
  • Showers

What should you do to manage the risk?

You should take risk management action to ensure water used in each of the above areas is fit for purpose and will ensure food is safe and suitable. For example:

  • Boil all the water you use
  • Use an alternative water supply, like bottled water or water tankers from a registered supplier
  • Use a water treatment process that is sufficient to kill Campylobacter and E.coli in contaminated water supplies, e.g. water that has been treated with bleach/chlorine (5 drops of bleach to one litre of water). For water used in water dumps or other processing steps,  concentration of sanitising agent will need to be validated for efficacy - if in doubt check with your verifier or MPI or local council)

If you have been using council supplied water since 1 August 2016, the products that the water has been used with may be contaminated. You must immediately contact your verifier or MPI to discuss what to do next.

Staff could also be a source of contamination

It’s not only the water supply that could be a risk. Staff may live in the Havelock North area and may be carrying the germs into your business.

  • Sick staff should not work with food.
  • All staff should be extra vigilant about handwashing (with safe water) and using hand sanitiser

When can I use the water supply again without boiling it?

  • When the ‘boil water’ notice has been lifted. Wait for the media announcement to be made that the water supply is OK to use again.
  • For further information see your local council website.

More information can be found:

Information about hand-washing:
Http://www.mpi.govt.nz/food-safety/food-safety-for-consumers/tips-for-food-safety

Information about food safety in adverse events (including when on a boil water notice):
http://www.mpi.govt.nz/protection-and-response/responding/adverse-events/resources-for-adverse-events/

Refer to the Hastings District Council website for updates:
http://www.hastingsdc.govt.nz/boil-drinking-water-notice-remains-hn?page=6

Information about the germ that is causing the illness:
http://www.ourhealthhb.nz/assets/News-and-Event-files/HE1211-Campylobacter-WEB.pdf