GUEST BLOG: Arthur Taylor – More rat shit in prison food


From 1 July 2018, prison kitchens are required to lodge a detailed Food Control Plan with their local Council . Copies can be obtained from the Councils under the Local Government Official Information & Meetings Act.

The standards now expected of prison kitchens don’t differ materially from those in restaurants and other institutions.

Rats, fly and solmonella contamination should be a thing of the past .

Complaints can be made to the Councils’ Food Safety Officers . Inmates complaining of food contamination should not be transferred to other prisons with a proper reason until they are interviewed by the Food Safety Officer.

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Daniel, the lunch hygiene complainant, was transferred to Siberia ( Tongariro ) Prison at 8am this morning . They probably think that’s the end of his complaint , but I am taking it up . I’m seeking a copy of the Waikeria kitchen’s Food Control Plan & I will ask for a Council inspection.

I’m determined to ensure all prison kitchens are safe for their 10,000 inmate “clients”, but also for the many officers, officials and outside gatherings that are occasionally served food prepared in the kitchens.

The Food Act 2014 is administered by the Ministry for Primary Industries . CEO from next Thursday is our old friend from Corrections – Ray Smith . Ray may hear from me in his new role as well….

Arthur Taylor is TDB’s Prisoner Rights Blogger still inside prison.  


  1. It is astounding to me that rat shit in any publicly catered food is possible in this day and age or even the recent past as stringent food safety standards have been in place for a long while now and as you point out with sign offs on check sheets now a requirement making things more stringent. If there is rat shit that means there is a rodent problem which means the owners of the facilities have to engage pest controllers who also have to sign checklists. Usually a commercial kitchen would be shut down by health inspectors if rat or mouse shit is present. Are prison kitchens inspected yearly? The health inspector would not be the person to monitor transfers even if there was a complaint about the food, but who would be the authority to oversee this? Can an inmate be transferred just for complaining? That doesn’t seem right.

    • As per s53 and 54 of the Corrections Act 2004:

      53 Transfer from one prison to another

      (1) A prisoner may be transferred, on the direction of the chief executive, from any prison to any other prison in which he or she may be lawfully detained.
      (2) A prisoner may be transferred, on the direction of an inspector of corrections, from any prison to any other prison in which he or she may be lawfully detained if the inspector considers it necessary to transfer the prisoner to avoid or reduce any immediate danger to the prisoner or any other person.
      (3) A direction given by an inspector of corrections under subsection (2) may be revoked at any time by the chief executive.

      54 Reasons for transfer

      (1) A prisoner may be transferred by the chief executive from one prison to another for 1 or more of the following reasons:
      (a) to assist in reducing the likelihood of reoffending by the prisoner:
      (b) to assist in facilitating the—
      (i) rehabilitation of the prisoner; or
      (ii) reintegration of the prisoner into the community on his or her release:
      (c) to place that prisoner in a prison closer to his or her family:
      (d) to respond to the needs of that prisoner, as identified in the management plan:
      (e) to ensure the safety of that prisoner or any other person:
      (f) to implement a change in the security classification of that prisoner:
      (g) to provide medical or psychiatric care for that prisoner:
      (h) to reduce the risk of self-harm by that prisoner if he or she is identified as being at risk:
      (i) to reduce the risk to that prisoner if he or she is identified as being vulnerable to mistreatment by other prisoners:
      (j) to grant a request by a prisoner for a transfer.
      (2) A prisoner may be transferred by the chief executive from one prison to another in order to ensure compliance with the requirements of this Act or any regulations made under this Act concerning—
      (a) the separation of convicted prisoners from accused prisoners; or
      (b) the separation of prisoners who are under a specified age from prisoners who are of or over that age.
      (3) A prisoner may be transferred by the chief executive from one prison (the first prison) to another prison—
      (a) to restore or maintain the security and order of the first prison:
      (b) to enable effective management of the national prisoner muster:
      (c) to allow repairs or alterations at the first prison:
      (d) in response to the closure or change of use of the first prison or part of that prison.
      (4) When considering whether to transfer a prisoner for 1 or more of the reasons set out in subsection (1) or when considering how a transfer for 1 or more of the reasons set out in subsection (2) or subsection (3) is to be effected, the chief executive must, as far as is reasonably practicable, have regard to—
      (a) the desirability of providing the least restrictive environment for the prisoner that is consistent with the maintenance of public safety and the safety of staff members and other prisoners; and
      (b) the need to facilitate the rehabilitation and reintegration of the prisoner into the community, taking into account the availability and location of appropriate services and programmes that will contribute to the achievement of those objectives; and
      (c) the desirability of ensuring that the prisoner is detained at a location as close as is practicable to his or her family.
      (5) A decision by the chief executive to transfer a prisoner must be made in the prescribed manner.

  2. The general public must be protected from those who commit crimes.
    And those who commit crimes must then be protected from the general public. Is that irony?
    The way we AO/NZ’ers deal with criminals is nothing short of sadistic in these enlightened times which says to me that I’m wrong in thinking these times are in any way enlightened.
    Prisoners must be kept out of harms way, and to stop them doing more harm. But why torture them? Why not, instead, let them live in comfort and in dignity? Why lock them up in small cubicles then treat them like a Dom would treat her ‘clients’? Is that all magistrates understand? Irony alert.
    Torturing someone for torturing someone must surely be the most absurd and deeply ironic thing I’ve ever heard of. Even the rats are torn between shitting in prisoners food and generally shitting everywhere at any time.

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