A new Food Bill introduced in New Zealand to update the Food Act 1981, which has not been updated for 30 years, passed its first reading with unanimous support and will go to select committee, according to New Zealand Minister for Food Safety, Kate Wilkinson.

“I’m confident that when the Food Bill emerges from the scrutiny of the select committee we will be able to implement a regulatory system that offers greater clarity to businesses and more confidence to consumers,” Wilkinson said.

The new Food Bill has been developed over the past three years and is aligned with the New Zealand Standard platform, which provides the basis for food exports.  

In an earlier statement about the bill, Wilkinson commented that the bill will help food producers understand what is required of them to take primary responsibility for the safety of food they sell and that businesses would be regulated relative to the degree of risk posed by the foods produced.

“Ultimately this Bill will make it easier for food businesses to understand how safe food needs to be produced.  It will also provide consumers with greater confidence that their food is safe,” she said.

Wilkinson said regional inconsistencies in how councils apply current food law will be addressed, but that “Organizers of community-based fundraising activities like cake stalls and sausage sizzles won’t need to jump through hoops.  

“Food handler guidance will be made available to these people to help them keep food safe and local councils will have more certainty around their role in regulating food premises.”

The Food Bill has been referred to the Primary Production Select Committee and is expected to be reported back on by the end of the year.