New food safety laws due to be introduced by the State Parliament this week have been labelled a "farce" by the Australian Hotels Association (AHA), Restaurant and Catering SA and the State Retailers Association. The groups have been given a consultation period during which they can object to the proposed legislation. Their opposition is being strongly voiced.

Executive director of the AHA, John Lewis argued yesterday that the proposed laws are "a publicity stunt [with] absolutely no industry support." Others have branded them unworkable and bureaucratic.

The new law, which aims to bring NSW in line with the rest of the country, would see companies who prepare potentially unsafe food receive fines of up to A$500,000. Individuals who knowingly sell or handle unsafe food can expect four years in jail or a fine of up to A$100,000. Inspectors will also be able to apply for search warrants, and extend recall provisions when necessary.

Meanwhile, fund-raising vendors who do not make a profit are exempt from the legislation, a much -maligned feature of the new proposals. Eldert Hoebee, president of RC SA said, "that's the area (where) most problems occur. It's one thing to say you are a government about consultation and another thing showing you've listened. Some of the major concerns were common across the board but have been totally ignored."

The three organisations maintain that food poisoning incidents in the past, such as that caused by Nippy's last year, could have been avoided if the government had merely implemented current laws and provided appropriate training for food workers.

To read about the compensation case of the victims of Nippy's food poisoning, click here.