New Zealand Food Safety, a unit of the Ministry for Primary Industries, is seeking input about a draft strategy, wanting to hear from consumers, customers and partners about meeting the needs of New Zealanders and consumers worldwide.

The draft strategy outlines how the agency intends to maintain a trusted food safety system for products intended for domestic and export use. It also considers the future and how risks will be managed with minimal impact on consumers and food businesses.

Eight public meetings are scheduled across New Zealand to give people the opportunity to get involved on the consultation, with the final one set for Sept. 27.

Changing food system
Bryan Wilson, deputy director-general of New Zealand Food Safety, said feedback will help the agency be clear about its priorities.

“New Zealanders and millions of consumers around the world eat New Zealand food. It is vital that food produced in New Zealand is safe and suitable. This is your chance to have a say in what New Zealand Food Safety prioritizes, with a clear focus on the food safety system so that food produced in New Zealand can be trusted by everyone, everywhere,” he said.

“Right now, world food safety systems are under increasing pressure. Global issues, such as climate change, are impacting how food is produced. E-commerce is changing the way food is bought and sold. Consumer tastes are changing and bringing greater demands from authenticity to health to the table.”

New Zealand Food Safety intends to develop campaigns to provide more information on non-traditional food such as plant based and laboratory grown foods and how best to clean, cook and chill them so they are safe to eat.

Wilson said the agency must be increasingly agile, understand the changing environment, and develop science to ensure consumers are safe from foodborne illnesses while allowing industry to respond to consumer demands.

“In times of uncertainty our overseas trading partners also want assurances that New Zealand food is authentic and safe. A foundational part of this is a robust domestic system. Whether you own a food business, buy or produce New Zealand food, you’re part of hapū/iwi with interests in kai, or you simply enjoy cooking and eating – your feedback to this consultation is important in shaping this strategy,” he said.

The final strategy will be launched at the New Zealand Food Safety Summit in Auckland on Dec. 10.

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