NZ food industry calls for strong new penalties for people who maliciously tamper with food

Strong new penalties are being called for to punish people who sabotage food in New Zealand.

This comes in the wake of Australia's strawberry needle crisis last year which severely damaged the industry there and spawned copycats here in New Zealand.

Some in the Kiwi food industry are urging the government to follow Australia's lead and substantially increase penalties for people who tamper with food products.

"Sabotaging food is akin to economic terrorism. It poses a real risk to the public, it causes massive cost to industry and huge wastage of food," says Greg Hartfood from Retail New Zealand.

"Consumers want to know that their food is safe and I think we do need much strengthened penalties," says New Zealand Food and Grocery Council chief executive, Katherine Rich.

National MP Nathan Guy is calling for maximum penalties to be increased from 10 to 14 years in prison.

"They could be costing the economy tens of millions, potentially hundreds of millions, it could cripple an entire industry.

"We want to send a very strong message it's not welcome in New Zealand," Mr Guy told 1 NEWS.

The Food Safety Minister Damien O’Connor wasn’t available to comment today however two months ago he said the current laws are fit of purpose and don’t need changing.

The New Zealand Food and Safety Authority won't tell the public how many cases there have been of needles being placed in food items here, citing operational and investigative reasons.

Your playlist will load after this ad

The calls come in the wake of Australia’s strawberry needle contamination incident. Source: 1 NEWS