“The changes ensure better balance in the legislation so that high-risk food operators have the appropriate controls, while unnecessary burdens are not placed on communities,” Ms Kaye says.
“They are designed to clarify aspects of the law where people have raised uncertainty.
“Since the Food Bill had its first reading, people have expressed concerns that it could have placed unnecessary regulation and compliance on community and fundraising groups.
“We have listened to those concerns and the relevant changes to the Bill will go back to Select Committee for consideration.
“The changes relate to community activities, including swapping food in non-commercial exchanges and engaging in fundraising and ‘Kiwiana’ activities such as sausage sizzles and school fairs.
“There will also be greater transparency of fees charged by local authorities and the addition of a ‘good Samaritan’ clause to better protect businesses that donate food in good faith.
“The changes to this legislation are to provide a flexible, risk-based food safety system that will accommodate around 85,000 food premises, which account for more than 250,000 jobs.
“Some of the definitions will be important to get right and that’s why I am sending the Bill back to select committee for consideration.
“The Food Bill is comprehensive and replaces the current legislation and regulations plus at least 34 separate sets of food safety bylaws around New Zealand.
“It is challenging to draw the line in the appropriate place on how much regulation will ensure safe and suitable food for consumers when dealing with the differences in scale from a community sausage sizzle through to a multi-national food producer.
“The Bill has significant support from industry and businesses and more than 6000 businesses have adopted transitional risk based programmes in anticipation of this new Food Bill.
“I believe this legislation is critical to protect the health of New Zealand consumers, improve the integrity of our food systems and support export-led economic growth.”
Food & Grocery Chief Executive Katherine Rich says the changes are sensible and timely.
“As a country so dependent on food production, New Zealand needs a modern food law, and this will achieve that.
“It’s not before time. The existing piece of legislation is more than 30 years old and has regulations that are nearly 40 years old. A lot has happened in food technology, science, attitudes, and thinking in that time. On that basis, with food laws that are very much out of date and overdue for a revamp, it is important New Zealand moves forward in this area.
“The changes proposed by the Minister are sensible and pragmatic, and improve the clarity of the law so there is less room for ambiguity.
“Many members of the Food & Grocery Council have risk-based systems in place, and the Food Bill will provide a clearer underpinning of those systems.
“The food industry will welcome the proposed changes.”
And in other news:
Internal Affairs Minister Chris Tremain says feedback from event organisers and members of the public shows overwhelming support for changes to the rules around spot prize draws which will remove unnecessary red tape.
Currently when spot prizes are used at events, such as fishing competitions and fun runs, they can be classed as gambling under the Gambling Act – which means organisers have to comply with a raft of rules.
“Public consultation on our discussion document showed the rules are too restrictive and the paperwork required onerous. Gambling is not the primary purpose of these events, so all these regulations are not required,” says Mr Tremain.
“However I don’t want a blanket exemption as this would potentially allow for events to be set up for prize draws where there is no community benefit.
“So the proposal is to exempt events from the Gambling Act events if they meet certain criteria such as the prize draw being secondary to the main event, the draw being only available to people participating in the event and the event having a community benefit.
“That will mean organisers will be able to offer spot prizes, regardless of the value of the prize, without needing to apply for a licence.
“The new rules will be in place in time for summer events this year.”
That’s two wins for common sense.