The New Zealand Food and Grocery Council has announced its support for Nathan Guy’s Private Members Bill to increase the penalties for those who intentionally contaminate food.
Chief executive Katherine Rich noted that over the years, the Food & Grocery Council has advocated for a full review of laws and penalties relating to malicious tampering with consumer goods, which includes food, beverages, pharmaceuticals, natural products and other non-food consumer goods.
“Our support for change is not just in response to high-profile tampering cases over the past few years, but because our members have believed for some time that the law does not adequately deal with all aspects of malicious tampering, and needs to be strengthened."
“Late last year, Australia’s Prime Minister announced a significant increase in penalties for food contamination, and we believe New Zealand should make similar changes."
“New Zealand’s economy relies on the export of high-quality foods, beverages and other consumer goods, so our law needs to send strong signals that contaminating food is a serious crime that has consequences, not just locally but in terms of harming New Zealand’s reputation in global markets."
“I’m sure the food and grocery sector hopes that the whole Parliament will support this bill, should it be drawn, so it can at least be discussed at select committee level. It appears to have support already from a number of significant industry associations, growers and farmers.”
The announcement of the Bill comes after New Zealand supermarkets were faced with a tampering issue after punnets of strawberries were found with needles inside resulting in the fruit having to be pulled from shelves.