Law makers were asked not to “reinvent the wheel” when Horticulture New Zealand Chief Executive Mike Chapman, and senior business managers Richard Palmer and Matthew Dolan, appeared before the Primary Production Select Committee at Parliament today.
Speaking to a submission from Horticulture New Zealand and 12 grower groups on the Food Safety Law Reform Bill, Mr Chapman urged the select committee to balance food safety with the importance of keeping compliance costs in check by recognising existing certification systems in horticulture.
The Bill amends the Food Act, Animal Products Act and the Wine Act. It paves the way for the Government to introduce requirements for traceability and recall procedures.
“Horticulture is already supported by Good Agricultural Practice (GAP) and Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) programmes that provide audited quality systems which incorporate traceability,” Mr Chapman says.
“While we appreciate the new rules are being developed in the wake of the Government Inquiry into the Whey Protein Concentrate Contamination Incident in the dairy industry, we are saying we already have traceability systems in place, and please take them into account rather than reinventing the wheel and adding a double cost to our growers.
“We have submitted that the adoption under section 40 of the Food Act of the GAP /GMP programmes is a sure and expedient way for the objectives of the Bill to be achieved.
“The traceability systems of individual businesses make up a connected traceability system that operates across the horticulture industry. This network has been built over many years and continues to improve.”
Mr Chapman says other aspects of the Bill horticulture seeks consideration on are around the proposal to establish regulations and notices to change the frequency and intensity of auditing; to charge business for these audits; and for the regulator to have greater powers to obtain information, which could result in businesses breaching contractual obligations or agreements.
“We disagree with those proposed changes. As outlined, horticulture already has a robust audit process which includes traceability and recall testing, so any additional regulatory burden would add cost, for no real gain. And while we support the ability for the regulator to obtain information to investigate a food safety issue, we submit, that information that is obtained for this purpose should be protected by financial penalties and indemnities.”