Food safety rules

The ECC believes the early learning food safety rules that came into effect on 25 January 2021 should be put on hold - they need more time to get right.

What the early learning food safety rules mean for you?

  • If you pack your own lunch for your child / children - nothing. You know best what food your child can manage safely, and we're not required to monitor or police their lunchboxes under the new law. We will continue to supervise your child while eating to ensure their safety. We are also required under the new rules to share the 50-page Ministry of Health guidelines with you so you are informed
  • If your child eats food provided by us, you'll notice some changes, to meet the new rules designed to minimise the risk of choking. For example, we're required to peel, core and grate apple for every child, even those that can safely manage a whole one

What are the issues?

Key concerns about the new rules and the confusion they're causing:

  • The Health and Safety At Work Act already requires all ECE centres to identify all hazards and risks, including the risk of choking (not just from food) and have a plan in place to minimise it and how to respond in the event a child starts choking on something. The extra rules only confuse the issue
  • Non-food choking hazards haven't been adequately addressed
  • There are many unanswered questions on fruit trees and vegetable gardens addressed - do centres have to fence them off or rip them up?
  • Chewing food is an important part of a child learning to manage more challenging foods and in developing speech. The extra grating, blending and peeling sets this important progress back

For these reasons, we think the rules should be paused until the work's been done to get this right.

Join the call 

If you disagree with the new food safety rules, here's what you can do.

Stuck for what to write? Here's a few ideas:

  • How the new food safety rules are affecting your child and their diet
  • How the new food safety rules are affecting your centre have sausage sizzles been cancelled or fruit tree and vegetable gardens been roped off?
  • Say you support the call for the food safety rules to be put on hold for now


Regulatory change to ensure the safety and wellbeing of children in early learning services (Ministry of Education)