As recently reported in Hawke’s Bay Today, elderly residents in Hawke’s Bay are upset new Government regulations have forced Age Concern to cease their frozen meal services which sold frozen meals to elderly across the region, and provided a home delivery service for those who were not able to pick up the meals themselves.
Manager of Age Concern Napier Morag Hill said it was unable to continue providing its service because the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) had changed the rules.
New regulations required the supplier of the meals to hold a licence that would require modification of kitchens and additional compliance, she said.
MPI said the organisations could still sell frozen food, provided they had the right food plan under the 2014 Food Act. They said businesses did not need to upgrade their kitchen areas, but have a plan asking the food suppliers who prepared the meals to have and follow a plan.
“Our local supplier has provided good quality, reasonable priced meals to all Age Concerns in Hawke’s Bay – Age Concern Hastings and Havelock North as well as ourselves,” said Hill.
“We are very disappointed we have to cease this service, as is our local provider, it is not something we both wanted to happen.”
Hill was uncertain of how many residents would be losing out on the service.
She said the Napier RSA had also ceased home delivery due to the new regulations.
Residents who usually relied on the provision of meals would have to purchase a prepared meal from a local supermarket, or organise a home delivery from a different provider.
Hastings Age Concern manager Deborah Biggs said it was in the process of trying to find a new provider, but were having no success.
“It is very disappointing as the meals were good quality and a good price. We had a great range of options and with the use of seasonal vegetables, they didn’t get boring.
“Previously we had been purchasing meals from Wellington, so it was great to be able to provide a locally sourced meal that supported Hawke’s Bay businesses.”
Biggs said they had a good supply of meals in stock which they expected to last until Christmas, maybe even into the New Year, so that people have time to find an alternative.
One Napier resident who wished to remain anonymous said he was “quite upset” the meal service had ceased, as both he and his wife had used it for nearly two years.
He was now travelling to the local supermarket and purchasing pre-made frozen meals instead.
“I’m fully mobile, but my wife is not and I look after her, so I go and buy the meals. They’re good quality, but they’re a lot more expensive than Age Concern and RSA.
“It was just a very convenient service for old people and it was a service specifically made for the elderly and now because of the regulations it’s having an effect on us.”
Although there were other services around Hawke’s Bay that provided meals, he said they were more costly than Age Concern’s meals.
MPI food safety spokeswoman Sally Johnston said frozen meal providers now needed to have a custom food control plan (FCP) registered.
Johnston said MPI had been getting feedback that food businesses were finding it difficult and expensive to put together a custom FCP and get it registered.
“MPI’s New Zealand Food Safety business unit has been working on some new options to make this process easier and more affordable.”
RSAs and Age Concerns affected were encouraged to contact MPI, Johnston said.