Stronger regulation ahead for food safety

The Food Safety Law Reform Bill was introduced to Parliament yesterday. The Bill aims to better protect human health and maintain and strengthen New Zealand’s reputation as a supplier of safe and suitable food. The Bill is an omnibus Bill, and it represents a significant reform of New Zealand’s food safety regime by amending three Acts related to food safety: the Animal Products Act 1999, the Food Act 2014 and the Wine Act 2003. While the fundamental model of the current system will remain unchanged, the Bill brings these three Acts into alignment and seeks to improve their operation and design.

Overview of the Bill

The key features of the Bill are:

  • New requirements for risk-based plans and programmes: Businesses are likely to see new requirements in relation to the form and manner in which risk-based plans and programmes must be supplied to the regulator. In addition, businesses would be required to provide copies of their plans and programmes to the relevant verifier/verification agency and retain copies.
  • Traceability and recall regulations: New regulations under the Bill would set new traceability and recall requirements that would apply when a food safety incident takes place.
  • Stronger verification: The Bill seeks to strengthen verification functions by clarifying that lines of accountability for recognised persons and agencies run to the regulator, and it enables information relating to the competence of accredited agencies to be passed to the regulator.
  • Stronger enforcement: The Bill updates the enforcement tools in the Animal Products Act 1999 and the Wine Act 2003 to bring them into line with the more recent Food Act 2014. This change would standardise compliance methods across the food safety system. When a food safety incident does occur, the Bill would give the Director-General increased statutory powers to respond, require information, and inform and protect the public.

The Bill would also modernise the food regulatory system by allowing for the use of automated electronic systems for service delivery and transactions.

What happens next?

The next step in the Bill’s progress will be for it to have its first reading in Parliament and be referred the select committee, which is expected to invite submissions on the Bill.

How we can help you

Our team advises a number of clients in relation to food safety, health and safety, and related issues, and also regularly assists clients in making submissions on proposed legislative changes. If you would like to know more about the Food Safety Law Reform Bill, engaging in the select committee process or the effect that the proposed regulations may have on your business, our team would be happy to assist you.

Find the Food Safety Law Reform Bill here