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Imports Programme Review

8 December 2003
Imports Programme Review

A review of the system around New Zealand's imports programme for food, food related products and agricultural chemicals was announced by the New Zealand Food Safety Authority today.

The review will examine current procedures that are in place to ensure imported goods covered by the review are safe and suitable for use, comply with New Zealand standards and are secure from illegal tampering. The review team will recommend changes to the existing programme they see necessary to achieve those objectives.

A review team that is made up of specialists from a broad range of areas, including health and economic expertise, will run the nine-month project. The team will actively consult with industry stakeholders throughout the process. They will report progress and findings to a steering committee made up of senior New Zealand Food Safety Authority staff.

Tim Knox, the New Zealand Food Safety Authority's Director of Domestic and Imported Food said this project comes at a timely stage in the management of New Zealand's imports.

" Current arrangements for controlling the importation of food and food related products were established in 1996. Since then, new risks and concerns regarding food safety and food bio-terrorism have arisen and some countries have responded with strengthened measures to address them,” Mr Knox said.

"The New Zealand Food Safety Authority intends to ensure that New Zealand has an effective and efficient system in place to manage the imports under its control," he said.

FAQs sheet follows.

Imports Programme Review
Frequently Asked Questions

Why is the review being carried out?

New Zealanders expect that imported foods will be safe, suitable for consumption and in compliance with the applicable New Zealand standards. With the increased amount of imports into New Zealand over the last 10 years, it is timely to check that procedures in place are adequate to deliver acceptable food products.

How will the review be conducted?

A review team made up of non-NZFSA staff will conduct the investigation and analysis of New Zealand's imported food programme. This will include:
- Identifying stakeholder's needs and expectations;
- Evaluating current policies controlling existing risk management programmes;
- Evaluating the consistency of approach towards domestic and imported foods;
- Identifying any major threats to the safety and security of New Zealand's imported food supplies;
- Identifying opportunities for enhancing or rationalising controls on imported food or reducing compliance costs.

Who is on the Imports Review team?

It will be led by Dr John Hellstrom, ex-chair of the Biosecurity Council, and includes a public health expert, an economist, an animal feedstuffs specialist as well as a project manager. Other experts such as food specialists and industry stakeholders will be consulted regularly throughout the process.

Who will be consulted during the review?

The review involves consultation with a broad range of stakeholders during the investigation phase and will ensure that stakeholders are broadly in agreement with the review's analysis and recommendations. Stakeholders include importers and customs brokers, retailers, the New Zealand food industry, other government agencies and consumers.

What will the review change?

It is expected that the review will make recommendations that will enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of current arrangements for imports. These recommendations will be considered by the NZFSA and implemented as appropriate following further consultation.

What do other countries do?
The review will examine the import food procedures of our key trading partners to identify international best practice.

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