New law worries small-time food outlets
Tue, 24 Jan 2012 7:00p.m.
By Lachlan Forsyth
Every Friday at an idyllic little spot in Northland, locals meet to trade their backyard produce - a few eggs, some vegetables, flowers and fruits.
But all this harmless produce is about to be subject to a new law, and that's because of the processed stuff - the pickles, jams, and breads.
“It seems like total overkill," says Trish Allan of Matakana Community Swap. "It just seems crazy to stifle community grassroots little things like this.”
Anyone who sells, barters, or even gives away food will soon have to get their head around the new law.
The food bill does not put a stop to selling homegrown produce, nor does it stop people trading processed foods like breads and jams, but it does impose new food handling guidelines.
And if there's a third party involved in the food that changes everything.
If you grow an apple and sell or give it to party A, that is exempt under the new bill. But if party A then sells or gives the apple to party B, that's when the law will kick in
Peter Russell runs Ooooby - short for Out Of Our Own Backyards - an organic food distribution business that takes in, and gives out, locally-grown food.
So Ooooby will be subject to the food bill's requirements.
Ooooby founder Peter Russell says it has taken him a while to get his head around the law.
“The effect will be the supply base for Ooooby, which is homegrown food, may also need to comply to the food bill as well, in which case the cost and the knowledge and the time of developing a food safety plan would just make it prohibitive. It just wouldn't be viable so therefore it could squander our supply base, and make it very difficult to do the work we want to do.”
Distributing food will fall into three categories, depending on the operation's size and scale. Even sausage sizzles or local produce swaps may need to be registered for basic food handling advice.
Lisa Er, founder of Lisa's Hummus, says although we need legislation it needs to be user-friendly.
“This is not a user-friendly bill. It's complicated, it's confusing and it looks as though there are going to be really severe penalties for people who make mistakes.”
If the food bill had been around 15 years ago, Ms Er says the compliance costs mean her company would never have got off the ground.
“I had absolutely no money, nothing to invest at all," she says. "I had been on a benefit so I was starting from the ground up. Lisa's now has 123 employees, so that's made a difference to the country, but I couldn't even have started because I had no money whatsoever."
The intention of the food bill is to update a 30-year-old law, bringing us into line with international standards and improve food safety.
But people who will have to work with it say it’s ambiguous.
“The food bill isn't bad," says Mr Russell. "It is elements within the food bill that have been woven in that are the problem."
Even before it's passed into law, part of the bill to do with growing and storing seeds is being amended. But critics believe the bill should be thrown out completely
“Any legislation which has as many obvious challenges to people wanting to take control over and responsibility for their own food production and distribution is a concern,” says James Samuel, Ooooby co-founder
He believes it'll actually discourage small producers from providing for communities.
“It's concerning because it puts people in a position where they're in doubt about whether they could be challenged and could be subject to the penalties - which are enormous.”
The maximum penalty for an individual is $100,000 and five years' imprisonment.
“I'd have gone back teaching," says Ms Er. "I wouldn't have done it at all, it's just too much."
“You take a cottage food set-up, even a small business set-up - there are so many areas they could get it wrong, that boom you're done - you forgot that little detail," says Mr Russell. "They don't have the capacity to get legal help to know whether they're complying so the only safe thing to do is back away."
Ms Allen from the Matakana Community Swap is a trader who won’t be backing away, but she's annoyed by the thought that a loaf of her focaccia bread could turn her into a criminal
“Why make us lawbreakers? Our message to the Government is change it now before it goes through, not after, to make things like this exempts.”
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28/04/2012 2:40:31 a.m.
Simon Kaiwai wrote:
The removal of banking regulation was the most harmful act against NZ households. If politicians had our interests in mind they would reinstate banking controls. Fluffing around with our food and removing basic freedoms in this area is simply malicious.
25/04/2012 4:27:24 p.m.
It appears that once again the Ministers and thei cohorts have not enough work and have decided to tinker with what appears to be a perfectaly OK law and of course they need to think of new ways to screw the tax payer. How about they look at their own spending and do some cost cutting there. There is so much wastage in the departments what with paying consultants high fees for programmes that are often after paying the consultants for long periods do not get implimented.
13/02/2012 10:58:50 p.m.
Mike Farmer wrote:
Seriously everyone, if you expect to get any real information from the TV, then think again. Just do a search here to see where their funding comes from: http://www.nzonair.govt.nz/funding/fundingsearchpages/fundingsearchtvprograms.aspx?
NZonAir is a crown entity with six Board members appointed by the Minister of Broadcasting (Craig Foss – National MP), and National are the ones trying to push this Food Bill through right now.
There are real issues with this food bill. www.foodbill.org.nz has a good list. And there is a big list of things you can do about it here http://www.foodbill.org.nz/wiki/What_Can_I_Do
11/02/2012 11:19:16 p.m.
NZ ex-gardener wrote:
maybe you should not give the veggies away folks, but to pick it up by the end-consumer byself.
27/01/2012 1:38:13 p.m.
At least i wil now be able to make plenty compost with the veges i used to give awayThen i will only grow enough that i can consumethe rest can rot
26/01/2012 8:37:23 p.m.
david kiesanowski wrote:
so how dose this law affecet the food banks? As people give fresh vegetable,fruit,jams, groceries to them dose that mean that they are breaking the law.
26/01/2012 8:23:52 p.m.
Tessa Thornton wrote:
So what happens with the food banks and salvation army. People buy goods then donate it to church's or sally's and then they share it out to other helpers, that give it to people who need it??? what happens there? Because some times they get donated thing that they then have to repack to share out so that everyone can get a fear share? What happens there do they now fall under the new law??? It's like they this law restricts you from not only selling goods, small goods. but also from sharing and helping your fellow kiwi's??? I'm not getting that. Shall we be as selfish as key's and snuff our noses up to the poverty within nz but still promote other country's poverty and support them instead of our own. Dum falla, wish you weren't PM
26/01/2012 6:20:55 p.m.
Register your disapproval here
26/01/2012 3:15:35 p.m.
Agri-business , like Monsanto, obviously wrote this Bill, and our treacherous Govt. will push it through. There is absolutely no difference between National (Socialist ie Nazi ) Party and the so-called workers Labour Party. Recall who it was who made stealing our assets politically possible, and treacherous rat in Roger Douglas, with the help of other disgusting so-called Labourites. John Key is of the same ilk, bought and sold to overseas corporates. And the Food Bill is only the start of the misery they have in store for ordinary Kiwis. I used to think Hone Harawira was a raving nutter, but the more I read of his utterences, the more genuine NZer he sounds, proposing ways of improving the lives of ordinary NZers with legislation which Michael Joseph Savage used back in the 30s to bring us out of the depression of those times. Such as creating NZ credit, NOT debt, a financial tax, which would of course catch the greedy bastards who at this moment pay very little tax, but demand the most from tax-payer funded institutions like Police, Armed Forces etc. They, the obsenely wealthy, (there are a few notable exceptions) are parasitic, sucking the life blood of communities for their own personal benefit. How many banksters, crooked accountants and lawyers end up in jail? Very few, only the greedy and stupid. The rest are protected by other grossly overpaid charlatans, some are even judges,and the others are politicians we have mistakenly elected. They were elected to represent US, not the USA, and it's filth-ridden corporate criminal class. because NZers in the main are shockingly illiterate about our political system, and the daylight theft that is the true business called banking, and are seemingly loth to educate themselves about the true nature of the criminals we are subject to, nothing is going to change, and we all go down the gurgler asking WHY? But this forum does give one some hope, as there are obviously people out there who have done some research and have a very good idea where things are heading and who the drivers are. 2012 is going to be a horrible experience for most of us, but let us resolve not to go meekly, but to fight like mad and let the traitors in Parliament know they have a real fight on their hands. This is cause of all revolutions, Govt of corporations,by corporations for corporations. Even the Russian one of 1917 but then was hijacked by the very type of person they were originally fighting, ergo the French and the American revolutions. We desperately need a "Written Constitution" but one written by us, not by the bureaucrats or politicians. One that is enforced by OUR police and enforcement agencies. This will onl;y occur if sufficient people with a true and genuine love for all makindn are in the driving seat. Any other type, and we will only swap tweedle-dee for tweedle-dumb. I suppose I can but dream.
26/01/2012 12:06:41 a.m.
Once again the fat cat supermarkets get their own way. If the government will take their side over Fonterra, then what hope do small time food producers have?
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