The Food Act 2014 brought in changes to the way food safety is enforced. Find out about the changes to food safety compliance.

Improved food safety compliance system

The new Act includes a better compliance system. Generally, food businesses that consistently provide safe and suitable food can achieve lower compliance costs. 

Most food businesses will be checked periodically (by a verifier) to ensure they are operating safely.

Better consumer protection

Under the Food Act 2014, food safety officers from the Ministry for Primary Industries and local authorities have been given more effective tools for protecting consumers from:

  • unsafe food
  • businesses that fail to identify allergens in their products
  • unethical food operators
  • misleading or inaccurate labelling.

Because the Act brings in infringement offences (instant fines), officers have the power to quickly and effectively deal with minor offences.

New infringement tools for food safety officers

Businesses are encouraged to voluntarily meet the requirements of the Food Act 2014 – they need to provide safe and suitable food. However, if there are problems with a food business, a food safety officer may get involved. They can draw on a wide range of tools to address any problems, including:

  • Infringement offences (instant fines) for minor offences.
  • Improvement notices and notices of direction. These require business operators to improve food safety without costly court action.
  • Powers for food safety officers to interrupt operations when necessary to assist in an investigation.
  • Powers to close or restrict the use of a place if food safety or suitability is threatened.
  • Compliance orders that can be issued by a District Court to compel business operators to take certain actions.
  • Significant increases in penalties for the most serious food safety offences.

Usually, minor issues can be dealt with by food safety officers providing suitable advice. If more serious issues are found a graduated response is taken. Officers may issue directions, infringement notices, or for particularly serious offences initiate a prosecution. More information about infringement offences (instant fines) is in the Food Regulations 2015.

Who to contact

If you have questions about enforcement, email info@mpi.govt.nz

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