TeHoroThe message below was sent to councilors and community board members last Friday evening:

TO: Elected Members FROM: Jacquie Muir DATE: 16 March 2018

SUBJECT: Food Act 2014 and notification of planned visit to Waikanae Market

It’s time for our team to continue their work that we began in October 2017 with Food Markets. This included our initial visit and two stakeholder events. The purpose was to inform and educate our operators and market managers about the mandatory Food Act 2014 changes coming in 2018. Members of my environmental standards team are planning to visit the Waikanae Market on Saturday 24 March 2018 to further advise stall operators and holders about their responsibilities under the Act.

The last time we went out, it garnered quite a bit of local and national media attention. Council is required by legislation to carry out our functions, duties and roles under the Food Act to ensure all food sold in our community is safe and suitable. This is part of a wider programme we are undertaking with all food businesses within the District. We would appreciate support from any available elected member/s to attend the Waikanae Market on Saturday 24 March, making themselves accessible to the community as the Council staff move around and communicate with food operators.

The “media attention” mentioned was quite negative. The initial story entitled “Kapiti Markets under threat” appeared on the KC News website last November here

A slightly earlier article on KC News read:

Kapiti Council is talking to local market managers and regular stall holders about changes to the way food sellers need to operate in New Zealand by March 2018. This is the latest phase in a process to inform all Kapiti food sellers about implementing changes required under the new Food Act 2014.

Food sellers now need to be registered with local councils which administer and legally enforce the new Act on behalf of the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI).

Food stalls operating at markets are included and will need to pay a fee for registration and verification of a food control plan.

Depending on the type of food being sold, fees range from $150 to $300 for registration, and $450 to $600 for verification. These charges are set by local councils.

Council representatives visited local markets recently to hand out information and explain the new requirements

Clearly the line about fees — our emphasis — is what everyone is most upset about. The rapaciousness of the KCDC when it comes to revenue (except from property developers) is well-known.

The council person who sent the above message is no doubt hoping that elected members will be there to get the public on-side, although whether any will show is dubious — they generally prefer not to be associated with unpopular measures.

A similar visitation by council staff to the Paraparaumu Beach Market produced a bad reaction and much stress.

In fairness, the regulatory changes to the Food Act have been the initiative of the central government and not the council, and likely motivated by concern about ‘ethnic’ food trucks in the south Auckland area.  In May 2016 we posted this Los Angeles Times story about food trucks there lagging behind in food safety and cleanliness, and such concern here is understandable.

But what can be amiss with things like home-grown fruit and vegetables, free range eggs, baking, confectionery and jam?

Is it a case of ‘using a sledgehammer to crack a nut’?

Schedule 1 to the Food Act lists “Food sectors subject to food control plans”.

And for those excited by officialdom, the Food Safety Law Reform Act 2018 which came into effect on 1 March is here