Childcare centres say new food safety laws unfair


Several childcare centres say they're being unfairly targeted by new food safety laws.

The new act, which will affect most centres by March next year, will see them charged to have their kitchens inspected.

The childcare sector says it puts them on the same level of comparison to five-star restaurants.

New Shoots Children's Centre director Michelle Pratt, who runs six childcare centres, claims the new food act inspections will cost a thousand dollars per centre every three years.

She believes the centres in lower socio-economic areas will suffer the most.

"They're not going to be able to afford to do the compliance requirement that they're going to need to do," she said.

"So what are they going to do - they're going to stop preparing healthy meals in their services and they're going to ask for families to provide lunchboxes from home."

The Early Childhood Council says the new rules are "nonsense".

"We're getting lots and lots of feedback from centres. Everything from a few hundred dollars up to $4000, but certainly the average would have to be around the $12,000 to $13,000 mark," said Early Childhood Council CEO Peter Reynolds.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) says it's looking into reports that some of the quotes are too high.

It says the fee should be in the hundreds, not the thousands.

MARC Early Learning Centre head teacher Meg Moss says she doesn't have a problem with the new food act.

"Children are vulnerable citizens, and I think their health's really important and they're due the respect that people attending restaurants get." She said.

MPI agrees, saying food safety is just as important in childcare centres as it is in restaurants.