ECC calls for pause on lunchbox rules

24 January 2021

The Early Childhood Council is calling for the implementation of new early learning centre food safety rules to be paused so that issues that have emerged through its roll out can be worked through.

The issue is about preventing children from choking, whether that’s on food or any small object. That’s what makes this a wider health and safety issue to manage.

“A growing number of issues continue to arise that suggest this matter has not been well thought through and is being rushed by the Ministry of Education. For example, if an early learning centre has fruit trees or a vege patch growing on their grounds, do they have to rip them out by Monday?”

“We need to take a step back. If legislation already exists to prevent children from choking on food or any other object, why would we introduce new rules to confuse the issue? This needs to be considered more carefully,” said ECC CEO Peter Reynolds.

The ECC has written to the Minister of Education asking for the rules’ roll out to be paused while the issues are reconsidered, because they address issues already covered by the Health and Safety at Work Act. This Act requires all businesses, including early learning centres, to identify hazards and risks and make a plan to mitigate them.

“There are too many questions to be worked through for this to be effective. Again, we sympathise with anyone affected by incidents leading to this food safety review, more time and consideration is needed to get this right,” said Mr Reynolds.

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