Our intentions: How well MPI monitors importers of higher-risk food

16 October 2023: This performance audit will look at how well the Ministry for Primary Industries monitors importers of higher-risk food.

All New Zealanders expect the food they buy to be safe. In 2022 and 2023, a range of imported foods that have a greater health risk to consumers – such as tahini and frozen berries – were recalled. These types of food are categorised as high regulatory interest (HRI) or food of increased regulatory interest (IRI).

All food importers are legally required to ensure that the food and ingredients they import are safe. Strengthened food importation safety regulations came into force on 1 August 2023.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (the Ministry) is responsible for ensuring that importers comply with these regulations.

What we are focusing on

We will look at how well the Ministry monitors whether importers are meeting the requirements for the importation of HRI and IRI food.

To do this we will explain the Ministry’s approach to monitoring importers’ compliance with regulations regarding HRI and IRI food across all stages of the importation process, including before the food arrives in New Zealand, at the border, and after the food arrives in New Zealand.

We will assess whether the information the Ministry collects through its monitoring activities provide it with a clear understanding of whether the import controls for higher-risk foods are working effectively.

The difference we expect to make

The primary objective of this work is to inform Parliament and the public about how well the Ministry is monitoring compliance with regulations for importing HRI and IRI foods.

This performance audit will look to highlight good practice and, if appropriate, suggest improvements to the Ministry’s approach to monitoring importers of higher-risk foods.

We expect to complete this work in the first quarter of 2024.

Please use the feedback form on the right if you’d like to speak to a staff member about this performance audit, make a suggestion, or ask a question.