New Zealand parents could soon pay more for childcare because centres face high bills meeting food safety regulations, an early learning lobby says.
Early Childhood Council chief executive Peter Reynolds said childcare businesses may be forced to hike their charges or stop serving food to children because inspection costs required to comply with the Food Safety Law Reform Act were too high.
He said before the new safety rules came into effect in March, Ministry for Primary Industries officials had told his council inspection services would cost about $300 per visit.
"But this isn't happening. According to feedback from childcare services, centres are instead being quoted $1000 to $1500, with one quoted $4000," he said.
He said the new rules were designed for manufacturers and restaurants but were "a nonsense" in childcare centres.
Under the rules, centres that cooked and served food to children and then charged a fee were subject to the expensive regulations, he said.
"But centres that cook and serve identical food, but don't charge a parent fee, are not," he said.
"This means two centres, providing the same service, are treated completely differently by the new law depending on whether or not they charge parents a fee for the food."
He said children would be less safe if childcare providers stopped cooking meals because most food poisoning and almost all allergenic incidences in centres came from food prepared at home.
Mr Reynolds' concerns come as the MPI is seeking feedback on the Food Act through a series of nationwide workshops.
MPI director food and regulatory policy Fiona Duncan said the law aimed to allow some lower risk businesses to keep fewer records and follow fewer procedures.