Academic journal article Journal of Environmental Health

Regulation of Food Hygiene in New Zealand

Academic journal article Journal of Environmental Health

Regulation of Food Hygiene in New Zealand

Article excerpt

Editor's Note: After seeking information from NEHA on how food protection is approached in the United States, Rodney Giddens kindly accepted our request to provide us with similar information on New Zealand. Qualified in public health inspection since 1968, Mr. Giddens has pursued his career in the metropolitan and rural communities in New Zealand in various capacities. He is Editor of the New Journal of Environmental Health, a quarterly publication of the New Zealand Institute of Environmental Health.

The New Zealand public health system has been the subject of restructuring for 10 years and there is no end in sight.

The current status of food hygiene is that the Food Hygiene Regulations 1974 continue in force for the time being. The legislative advisors are committed to replacing the 1974 regulations, which concentrate on the construction of the food preparation environment, with completely new and revolutionary regulations that focus on the safety of the food itself.

The review document "Safe and Sound" prepared by a steering group on food hygiene has put forward recommendations for change that have been accepted in principle. The recommendations include:

* Regulations should directly target food safety,

* Matters that do not impact on food safety should not be included.

* The licensing authority will not be required to carry out inspections of food premises for compliance with the regulations.

* Food proprietors will be required to produce and register a food safety program

* Food operators will be required to employ food auditors to check their food safety procedures.

* The role of the licensing authority will be to ensure that industry has measures in place for food safety.

The likely changes are, therefore, twofold: abandoning the prescriptive style of regulation for a food safety regime based on self compliance, and creating the licensing agency and independent auditors that will oversee this regime.

This fits well with the present political desire for deregulation and the removal of government intervention (and the associated costs) in the affairs of citizens and business. At the same time, the necessary minimum safeguards for public health will be retained.

The changes are also promoted as being necessary to reduce the incidence of food poisoning which has been increasing steadily over the last 10 years. There will be implications for health officers who are at present struggling within a framework scathingly described in a recent issue of New Zealand' s Consumer magazine, under the heading "What's Wrong with the Food? …

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