Proposed Food Bill
A new law, replacing the Food Act 1981, is before Parliament. Find out about its risk-based provisions and how these will change the domestic food safety regime.
If passed into law, the Food Bill would replace the Food Act 1981 and introduce some fundamental changes to New Zealand's domestic food regulatory regime. The Food Bill aims to provide an efficient, effective and risk-based food regulatory regime that manages food safety and suitability issues, improves business certainty and minimises compliance costs for business.
Current progress of the Bill
Parliament’s Primary Production Select Committee has completed its report with recommendations for the House to consider. You can download the Committee’s report and the proposed Bill from the New Zealand Parliament website:
- For the report, choose Select Committees under the Parliamentary business tab, then click on Reports of Committees and search for Food Bill.
- For the proposed Bill, choose Bills under the Parliamentary business tab and search for Food Bill.
You can find out how the Domestic Food Review (DFR) contributed to the proposals in the new Bill, by clicking on the DFR page in the left-hand menu.
Risk-based approach to food safety
The Food Bill introduces a risk-based approach to food safety. It proposes a shift from the current approach to food safety. For example, under Food Hygiene Regulations 1974, the emphasis is on 'walls, floors and ceilings', whereas the new Bill considers the processes and practices that need to be in place at a food business to keep food safe. This approach reflects international best practice and provides consumers with greater confidence that their food is safe.
You can find out more about MPI's risk management framework in the Food science and research section of the website.
Food businesses operating under the new Bill
Under the proposed Bill, anyone involved in the preparing, manufacturing, packing, transporting, storing, displaying or serving food for sale must be able to demonstrate that they carry out safe food-handling practices every day they operate.
All food operators, that is people who manufacture, sell or trade in food, and food importers will have a duty to ensure their operations result in the provision of safe and suitable food.
The Food Bill proposes that any person involved in the trade of food must operate under one of 3 risk-based measures:
- food control plans
- national programmes
- food handler guidance.
These measures reflect the diverse range of food preparation activities. A fourth risk-based measure, 'monitoring programmes' may be imposed on a food sector as and when appropriate.
You can find out more about these measures on the page, Implementation of the proposed Food Act, in the left-hand menu.
You can find out more about current food monitoring programmes in this section of the site.
What 'trade of food' means
The Bill will apply to individuals and businesses which sell or supply food in exchange for payment – including food that is bartered, donated or given as a trade sample in the course of business.
Food grown at home for personal or family consumption, or given away to friends is excluded from the measures in the Bill.
Clarifying the roles of regulators
The Food Bill clarifies the roles of food industry regulators. MPI will take primary responsibility for all regulatory functions, including:
- administering the new Food Act and related regulations
- preparing guidance material
- recognising persons who may undertake verification and enforcement functions.
Along with territorial authorities (local councils), MPI will be a registration authority, take an approvals and verification role and have a range of enforcement powers.
Single set of rules
More than half of local councils have developed bylaws to address gaps in the current Food Act. These cover compulsory training and/or qualifications for food handlers, specific types of premises, and licensing and registration requirements. The Food Bill will largely remove the need for local food-related bylaws. This means, the whole country will operate under a single set of rules.
Improved compliance and enforcement provisions
The Food Bill provides an improved compliance and enforcement regime.
- setting out the verification requirements for food businesses operating under risk-based measures
- a broader range of penalties and sanctions.