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Nothing is more important than the safety and well-being of children. While children can choke at any age, children aged five years and under are at a higher risk, as they have small air and food passages and are developing their biting, chewing and food-grinding skills.

We are proposing to amend the licensing and certification criteria to minimise the risk of young children choking on food, by requiring early learning services to follow Ministry of Health guidance in the preparation and serving of food.

The Ministry of Health has drafted guidance for minimising food-related choking risk for early learning services which services will be required to follow and is available in the Minimising food-related choking risk in Early Learning Service’s document.

Draft guidance: Minimising food related choking risk in Early Learning Service settings - Ministry of Health

What will these changes mean for early learning services?

We expect most services already follow guidelines for minimising food-related choking risks. But some may need to make changes to the way they do things to meet the new minimum standards – and they’ll be putting the health and safety of children first in deciding on those changes.  

Are all early learning services affected?

Yes. We’re proposing changes to the criteria for all service types including centre-based, home-based, hospital-based, kōhanga reo and playgroups.

What if my early learning service does not provide food?

The proposed criteria will cover any circumstances where children are eating in an early learning service, whether food is provided by the service or by parents.

We are also proposing to amend a further four criteria and are seeking your views on the proposed changes.

Have your say: Take the short survey about Minimising food-related choking risks in Early Learning Services

You can also take this survey in te reo Māori

Consultation ends on Friday 15 November 2019.