Food Bill changes to better protect publicFood Safety
Food Safety Minister Nikki Kaye says her proposed changes to the Food Bill will provide greater protection for the public during food safety incidents.
“Today I have written to the Chair of the Primary Production Select Committee asking the select committee to consider changes to recall provisions, following the findings of the Government Inquiry into the Whey Protein Concentrate Contamination Incident,” Ms Kaye says.
The Bill is currently before the select committee.
“The Inquiry recommended that the mandatory recall provisions in food legislation should be aligned*,” Ms Kaye says. “This is about making sure government has consistent powers to take precautionary steps where there are doubts about the safety or suitability of food.
“In nearly all cases, industry recalls food voluntarily if there is any doubt about safety.
“The reality is that the power to direct a food recall is rarely used, but it is essential to have the option to protect both consumers and the integrity of our food safety system.
“The Government accepted all 29 recommendations of the Inquiry and while the Food Bill is up for consideration it is appropriate to take the necessary steps to strengthen our food safety system.
“We have two pieces of legislation that are not aligned. The Animal Products Act (1999) sets a different threshold for mandatory recall than the current Food Act (1981). It makes sense that we should tidy up this discrepancy now so that all food recalls can be dealt with consistently across all food industries.
“I have also proposed that these recall provisions and other important powers that would assist in managing a food safety response are available as soon as the Food Bill is enacted, rather than waiting until the rest of the Bill comes into force in 2015.
“I believe it is important for the select committee process to allow for careful consideration of these proposals.
“We need a responsive and consistent food safety system that is trusted both at home and internationally.
“The Food Bill is a major priority for me and I feel strongly that it should pass as soon as possible this year. The current Food Act has been in place since 1981 and it is important we modernise our food legislation to match the way we now buy, produce and sell food,” Ms Kaye says.
*NB: the Government Inquiry into the Whey Protein Concentrate Contamination Incident recommended that:
Recall provisions should be revised, in particular:
- Mandatory recall provisions in food legislation should be aligned
- Voluntary recall obligations should be set out in regulations rather than in risk management programmes
- Regulations should require industry to simulate recalls, audited by verifiers
- Circumstances in which privileged statements can be made should be clarified.
The full list of recommendations and the Government’s response can be found here: http://www.beehive.govt.nz/sites/all/files/GovtresponsetableWPC.pdf