8 May 2003
The New Zealand Food Safety Authority and the Ministry of Justice today confirmed that liquor stores could legally continue to sell fortified wines (eg sherry and port).
Media reports have suggested that fortified wines could not be sold in liquor stores because of regulation 20(2) in the Food (Safety) Regulations 2002. However that is not the case.
The combined effect of the Sale of Liquor Act, which is administered by the Ministry of Justice, and the Food (Safety) Regulations 2002, administered by the New Zealand Food Safety Authority only prohibits the sale of fortified wines (and other high alcoholic beverages) from supermarkets and grocery stores. The Food (Safety) Regulations 2002 gives a definition of wine and fortified wine is not included in that definition.
Under the Sale of Liquor Act 1989, a supermarket or grocery store which has been granted an off-licence can only sell wine that conforms to the Food (Safety) Regulations 2002. Other off-licence premises will not be in breach of their licence if they also sell other kinds of liquor, such as fortified wines. This is, of course, subject to any conditions as to the kind or kinds of liquor they can sell that may have been imposed on their licence by the relevant District Licensing Agency or the Liquor Licensing Authority.
The regulations merely maintain the status quo between the Sale of Liquor Act and the old Food Regulations which were replaced by the Food Standards Code and the Food (Safety) Regulations.
The confusion in the liquor industry is likely to have arisen due to the broad definition of an off-licence provided in the Food (Safety) Regulations and not giving full consideration to the definition of wine in the same regulations. More detailed information on this issue is available on the NZFSA website www.nzfsa.govt.nz, under current issues.