Small business: Health and safety - Michael Matsis

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Meropi and Mike Matsis, co-owners from Zany Zeus.
Meropi and Mike Matsis, co-owners from Zany Zeus.

Zany Zeus's Michael Matsis started making cheese in 2000 focusing on the halloumi and feta varieties. Zany Zeus supplies halloumi, feta, smoked products, cultured products and organic milk to hundreds of cafes and restaurants throughout the Wellington region and nationwide.

Zany Zeus has opened a retail store, just down the road from its milk and cheese factory in Lower Hutt. Matsis has expanded into the premium ice-cream market and launched Zany Zeus's own real ice-cream using their organic milk and cream - which he hopes to eventually stock in supermarkets throughout the country. He is in the process of looking at exporting to Australia.

What is your health and safety programme and how do you communicate that to your 19 staff?

We take the health and safety of our staff extremely seriously. Every new member of staff goes through an induction programme and on site training with a buddy - therefore everyone is closely monitored so any risk of injury is minimised.

On the food safety front, we have three concepts - GMP -Good Manufacturing Practice, product testing and environmental surveillance for listeria.

Our big priority is education. We spend a lot of time on educating the workforce on the procedure and the consequences.We ensure that everyone understands their role and the fundamentals of hygiene. People are not left to go on their own devices when they are training until we are confident they can do the task. It is crucial for staff to understand the reason for using clean disposable gloves when in contact with the end product. This greatly reduces the risk of contamination. Care is taken at all stages of the process.

My production team are very onto it, most of the staff have been here for a number of years and are very well informed.

Have you ever had a problem?

No. We often carry out random tests on product to ensure the lab results are within the required limits. This is done in addition to the routine product and environmental surveillance testing we conduct.

What sorts of extra precautions do you take?

We carry out extra product testing and conduct air filter checks to ensure our air supply is clear and may identify additional areas for environmental surveillance of listeria.

Is your health and safety monitoring costly?

There are costs associated with all monitoring programmes but this is part of our business structure. Zany Zeus currently operates under a Food Safety Programme and we are very committed to maintaining and being current at all times.

What are your tips to other food businesses?

It's about education and training and Good Manufacturing Practice, making sure that the equipment is clean and maintained properly. It's imperative that all staff know what they are doing and are following the protocols.


Next week, we will be looking at the energetic types who organise events for NZ's industries. How profitable are these industry events and what good comes out of them? And is there good business to be made in running events?

For a good summary of the health and safety changes afoot click here

- NZ Herald

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