National is backing calls from the food and grocery sector for tougher penalties for those who intentionally contaminate our food or threaten to do so.
The issue has been under the spotlight after last year's needle scare in Australia, where needles were found in fruit.
The party's food safety spokesperson Nathan Guy has announced a members bill he said will protect New Zealanders from those that would threaten our food safety, be they reckless pranksters or people intent on nothing less than economic sabotage.
"Recent events here in New Zealand and across the Tasman, such as the strawberry needle scares, have identified the need for greater sanctions to prevent these sorts of idiotic behaviours," he said.
"Australia has already acted, passing stricter laws that seek to deter these criminals who contaminate food and water sources," said Mr Guy.
He said New Zealand now lags behind Australia, meaning offenders have less to fear if they are caught.
"Food tampering is not only economic sabotage on farmers and growers but also poses significant risks for consumers and New Zealand's reputation as a producer of high quality and safe food."
He said Parliament should send a strong message to anyone who considers food tampering.
"New Zealand should not be seen as a soft touch, and it is unacceptable that the Government has ignored calls from industry for stiffer penalties."
He said the Crimes (Contamination Offences) Amendment Bill would help deter this offending by creating three new offences in the Crimes Act and would increase those penalties to align them with the more serious offences of corruption, espionage, treason and piracy.
Nathan Guy's Crimes (Contamination Offences) Amendment Bill would:
-Criminalise the contamination of food to cause public alarm, national economic loss or harm to public health with a penalty level of 14 years imprisonment.
-Criminalise making threats to contaminate food for those purposes with a penalty level of 10 years.
-Criminalise hoax statements that cause public alarm, national economic loss or harm to public health to 10 years.
-See the maximum term of imprisonment for intentionally contaminating food increase from 10 to 14 years.