Government Slashes Red Tape for Grocery Sector

Friday 26 February 2010, 5:05PM
By NZ Food & Grocery Council

The Government’s release today of a Medsafe discussion document recommending that fluoride toothpastes and anti-dandruff shampoos be removed from Medicines Act regulations, will save millions in pointless compliance costs for the grocery sector, and increase choice for New Zealanders, says Katherine Rich, Chief Executive of the Food and Grocery Council (FGC).

“It’s a common sense step. Regulating anti-dandruff shampoos and toothpastes with the same force as medicines is bureaucratic overkill for low risk cosmetic products, which are clearly not pharmaceuticals.

“FGC members trade in over 150 countries and New Zealand is the only one with such a complicated mire of regulation, requiring each new product to be registered with Medsafe - a process that can take up to two years and cost firms between $50,000 - $100,000 per registration.

‘It’s a tedious process that has to be completed for each and every variant. Even if a company wants to change something insignificant like a shampoo fragrance or a toothpaste flavour, the process starts all over again. Same costs, same delays.

“Lengthy registration delays have often meant New Zealand consumers have been the absolute last in the world to get access to new product innovations, years after they are introduced worldwide. In the past such barriers have meant it didn’t make economic sense to introduce some new variants to New Zealand at all.

“Our industry has regularly raised this issue with successive Health Ministers since 1984, and Tony Ryall is the first to listen and take action. We thank him for cutting a swath through nearly 30 years of inertia, and putting this issue out for public consultation.

“While this is a discussion document and it’s up to our sector to work hard and put the detailed case for change, we are confident that the Government will finally cut this wasteful red tape.

“Moving ahead with common sense reform will save the grocery sector many millions of dollars, encourage more investment, ensure better choice in supermarkets, and finally align our business rules with Australia.