Sunday, 14 January 2018

Food fights

This is a slightly nuanced situation. The newspaper report seems to say that one part of the DHB shut down the operation of another part of the DHB and are using the new legislation as a reason. To be honest there is nothing new about caution over freezing food and re-heating it for later service. So I read it as the DHB auditing all of their food handling practices (spurred on by the change in legislation) and finding a practice they would have been unhappy with at any time had they known about it.

Although the new Food Act is largely a re-packaging of the old Food Act there are two relevant new inclusions in the legislation. The first is a specific reference to applying appropriate standards to food prepared for "vulnerable populations". This provision clearly applies here. The second is the duty of regulatory authorities to "... promote standards and control mechanisms that are, as far as practicable, risk-based and science-based...".

The new Act was sold to the industry as liberating because compliance requirements would now reflect the actual risk of each operation. Market stallholders would be allowed to prepare food in their home kitchen. We could do away with the nasty old "one-size fits all" regulations. Unfortunately the likely outcome will most likely be the complete opposite. From what I have seen so far a multitude of standards promulgated by Foodsafety NZ will simply be enforced on everyone with no reference to actual risk (let alone science).

This story in Tokoroa is just the beginning of a general shutting down of the food industry rather than a liberation.

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