The Food Bill, which will replace the Food Act 1981, will make fundamental changes to New Zealand's domestic food regulatory regime. It has come about through research conducted since 2003 as part of only the country’s second domestic food review in over 30 years.
The new bill sets out to better clarify the role of regulators and remove the need for local bylaws by having a single set of rules for training, registration and other food safety aspects. It should also improve compliance and enforcement.
Nikki Kaye, the food safety minister, said that the bill will change focus to the activities of a food business, rather than the premises from which it operates.
“A number of different kinds of businesses will have more flexibility and lower compliance costs than they faced under the current ‘one-size-fits-all’ regime,” she said.
“It will put in place a risk-based approach, where regulatory requirements are based on the extent and nature of food safety risks associated with particular kinds of businesses.”
The passing of the Food Bill gives New Zealand’s food regulatory regime a much-needed update, said Katherine Rich, CEO of the NZ Food & Grocery Council.
“As a country so dependent on food production, New Zealand needs to ensure it has a modern food law, and this will certainly achieve that,” she said.
“The bill will allow food businesses to manage their own food safety using tools based on the level of risk depending on the food they produce, rather than the existing one-size-fits-all approach.”
“Members of the Food & Grocery Council already have sophisticated risk-based systems in place, and the new Food Act will provide a clearer underpinning of those systems.”