Following a 2022–2023 hepatitis A outbreak linked to contaminated frozen berries, New Zealand Food Safety has issued new import rules for frozen berries to better ensure food safety. The changes will come into effect on August 1, 2024, and importers will have until January 31, 2026 to comply with the new requirements.

A first for New Zealand, the new regulation requires third-party certification to ensure that overseas producers are meeting the food safety standards upheld in New Zealand. Other changes include:

  • Elevating frozen berries from a food commodity of “Increased Regulatory Interest” to “High Regulatory Interest”
  • Clearly describing the products included or excluded from the application of clearance requirements
  • Removing ineffective requirements for microbiological testing of frozen berries at the border, with more robust requirements in place for manufacturers prior to import
  • Addition of specific provisions for the use of third-party certificates and their accompanying manufacturers’ declarations for clearance of imported frozen berry consignments
  • Specifying what assurances official certificates must provide and the need for them to be agreed between an exporting country’s competent authority and the New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).

New Zealand Food Safety worked with major frozen berry importers to develop the new regulations, which expressed support for the changes.