New Zealand prime minister John Key has promised to spend a significant amount of the country’s expected $NZ86 million surplus funding a host of food safety initiatives. The funding will come from the May budget, which will be the first to enjoy a surplus since Key’s government took power in 2008.
Investing More in Food Safety to Build a More Competitive and Productive Economy
"We will invest more in food safety and look to establish a centre for food safety, science and research," he said in a speech on the first sitting day of parliament in late January. This centre will receive a percentage of the $NZ1.36 billion the New Zealand government has allocated for a range of research initiatives.
Key’s commitment to food safety is part of the New Zealand government’s plans to “build a more competitive and productive economy.” It comes in the wake of the nation’s Fonterra false botulism crisis, which damaged New Zealand’s reputation as a food exporter.
Quality and Safety Critically Important for Exporting Success
“The reputation of New Zealand’s food sector for quality and safety is critically important for our success as an exporting country,” Key explained. “While the whey protein concentrate inquiry confirmed that our regulatory processes are among the best in the world, the government is committed to ensuring the system can respond to challenges that may lie ahead.”
The money will also be spent implementing any recommendations from the inquiry into the Fonterra scare to help international markets regain confidence in New Zealand’s status as a premium food exporter.
The first stage of the inquiry reviewed New Zealand’s legal and best practice food safety requirements and found the existing regulatory regime was not to blame for the incident. However, the inquiry must also consider what did cause the incident and assess the way it was addressed. This work has been placed on hold until New Zealand’s Minister of Primary Industries completes its own compliance investigation.