Four years after being introduced in the New Zealand Parliament, lawmakers on Tuesday unanimously passed a new food safety law designed to beef up regulatory authority, tighten provisions for product recalls, respond more quickly to outbreaks and better meet consumer and export market demands.
“The new Food Act will put in place a risk-based approach, where regulatory requirements are based on the extent and nature of the food safety risks associated with particular kinds of businesses,” Food Safety Minister Nikki Kaye said in a statement.
She added that enactment of the new law won’t be the end of food safety reform in New Zealand, but that officials would be developing regulations and guidance in consultation with the public. The 470-page law replaces the 1981 Food Act.
The proposal went through numerous changes since first being introduced after growers, community garden supporters and others had expressed concerns about the high cost of complying with its regulations. After some changes to its original provisions, the final version of the Act is now projected to save New Zealand’s food industry $40 million in compliance costs each year.