The new Food Act will essentially destroy local markets throughout the country, a regular market attendee believes.

"Anyone now selling food will be subject to a regime that will cost hundreds, maybe thousands, of dollars in registration and compliance with the new legislation," said Helen Jonassen, who enjoys going to the Waikanae market on Saturday mornings in Park Ave.

Council is now required to administer and legally enforce the new Act on behalf of the Ministry of Primary Industries.

By March next year food stalls operating at markets will need to pay a fee for registration and verification of a food control plan.

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Depending on the type of food being sold, fees range from $150 to $300 for registration, and $450 to $600 for verification.

"Essentially the bureaucrats have decided in their wisdom, to impose a very restrictive regime on those individuals who sell food, produce, jams, pickles etc," Helen said.

"The exception is for charity fundraisers who can sell 20 times a year.

"I believe this is just another money making exercise for local authorities.

"An example of the ridiculous rules was when one of the officers with her clipboard asked a stall holder if she grew the lemons she was selling.

"She was promptly told if she didn't grow them she couldn't sell them even though it was for an elderly neighbour.

"I could go on with these types of examples.

"Of course nobody wants food poisoning, but the public know this food is prepared in a home kitchen and as adults with capacity then it is their decision to buy them.

"Meanwhile kids can sell their sausage sizzles with no knowledge of food preparation."

There were numerous comments on the Waikanae Saturday morning market Facebook page against the new regulations.

"I'm sure we are all adult enough to be able to realise the potential risks if we choose to buy from a market," Mellisa Hadfield wrote.

"But no, we need some agency/policing rules to decide that for us.

"I feel for all the stall holders who will now be without that income and the community members like myself who love the variety on offer."

Raewyn Macdonald felt it was "bureaucracy at its finest".

"All market people should get a petition signed by their customers and march on council.
"Take a stand people. You may have more power than you think."

Kapiti Mayor K Gurunathan comments:

As mayor I don't want to be in a position of requesting council's regulatory staff to ignore government legislation because its plain dumb. But, I suggest, the new government needs to review the details of the Food Act.

The 2014 Act is managed by the Ministry of Primary Industries. The community totally supports the need for higher public health safety but some of its requirements unnecessarily restrict local economic activity, undermines community resilience and goodwill and challenges basic commonsense.

The council is the regulatory body for enforcing the Act. Staff have been carrying out a staged education programme to transition food traders into the new regime.

There are 264 registered food businesses, with 95 per cent needed to transition to the new Act. And council had been doing it quite successfully with restaurants and cafes.

However, there have been recent incidents at two local markets where council staff carrying out an information exercise on the impacts of the Act have been abused by a few irate stall holders.

Such behaviour is not acceptable especially when there are formal processes for food stall holders to engage with council's regulatory staff.

The stall holders have a point, however, when they highlight the sheer stupidity of an MPI requirement for the seller and suppliers of 'seasonal surplus' stalls selling produce from local gardens to be registered.

It's a popular and growing neighbourly exchange service largely run by volunteers. Registration could cost $150 or more. MPI has said the seller and supplier can group together and apply for an exemption. But the fee will still cost $176.

The complexity of the system and its administrative costs also means the council is forced to impose cost recoveries which end up being a huge impost that will undermine the economic viability of small food stall holders.

These food stall holders are an important element in the success of these markets. Fees range from $150 to $300 for registration, and between $450 to $600 for verification.