Everyone working in the food industry has a responsibility to make sure that the food we buy is safe and suitable to eat. The Food Act 2014 takes a new approach to managing food safety. Find out more about the Act and what it means for you.

New Act enhances food safety

The Food Act 2014 helps make sure that food sold throughout New Zealand is safe.

A central feature of the new Act is a sliding scale where businesses that are higher risk, from a food safety point of view, will operate under more stringent food safety requirements and checks than lower-risk food businesses. This means that a corner dairy operator who reheats meat pies won't be treated in the same way as the meat pie manufacturer.

The new Act promotes food safety by focusing on the processes of food production, not the premises where food is made.  For example, someone who makes and sells food from a food truck must follow the same rules as someone who makes and sells food at a restaurant. 

The Act brings in new food safety measures:

  • food control plans (FCPs) – written plans for managing food safety on a day-to-day basis. These are used by higher risk businesses
  • national programmes – a set of food safety rules for medium and low risk businesses. If you're under a national programme, you don't need a written plan (or develop written procedures), but must register, meet food safety standards, keep some records, and get checked.

Help available to find out where you fit

MPI has developed a tool—Where Do I Fit?—to help you work out where your food activity or business fits within the new Food Act rules. By answering a series of questions you can find out what you'll need to do to comply with the Act.

The new law depends on the type of food you make, rather than where you make it. If you run a food truck, a market stall, or a home kitchen, you will follow the same rules as someone making the same food at a restaurant or café. 

After you complete the tool

The answers you give in the tool help determine where your activity or business fits under the Act. It will tell you whether you have to operate under:

Some types of businesses will be able to choose whether they operate under the Animal Products Act or the Food Act.

And some food activities are exempt from having to work under a plan or a programme.

A few businesses may have to contact us for advice after completing the tool. You can email info@mpi.govt.nz.

Food Act case studies

If you are still unsure about where you fit, our case studies might help you – they show how the Food Act applies to different businesses and sectors.

When you need to register under the Food Act

Anyone starting a new business must register under the Food Act 2014 before they start selling food. 

Existing businesses (operating before 1 March 2016) will shift to the new Act between 2016 and 2019. Check the timetable to find out when your type of food business has to transition.

You can choose to transition any time between now and the end of your nominated transition period.

From the start of each transition period, MPI will focus on providing additional guidance and support to specific food businesses in that sector when their transition period begins.

Are you an existing operator not previously registered?

Some existing businesses may not be registered under the old Food Act. If this is the case, don’t worry. If you were operating before 1 March 2016, you should transition at the same time as the rest of your sector.

Other law changes

The new Act introduces other changes. They include:

  • the way food recalls are managed
  • changes for food importers
  • penalties and enforcement.

Food recall changes

The Food Act 2014 gives the chief executive of MPI the power to direct a food recall if needed. Previously a recall under the Food Act 1981 could only be directed by the Minister for Food Safety.

There are no other changes to how businesses should manage food recalls, and they should continue to plan for food recalls as they have always done.

Changes for food importers

On 1 March 2016, new laws were introduced for food importers. They must:

  • either register with MPI as a food importer, or use a registered food importer to import on their behalf.
  • start paying a fee to register.
  • renew their registration each year.
  • have their details published on a public register.

What you need to know before importing food into New Zealand [PDF, 342 KB]

Getting clearance for your food - how to import food into New Zealand [PDF, 225 KB]

Enforcement of the Food Act 2014

The new Act includes a better food safety compliance system than the Food Act 1981. Minor and technical offences will be dealt with faster and more effectively, and penalties for the worst offences have been strengthened.

'Safe and suitable food' defined

Under the Food Act 2014, anyone who sells or provides food needs to make sure it is safe and suitable to eat. Safe and suitable food is defined in the Act. In summary it means that:

Safe and suitable food videos

Watch MPI's videos on YouTube that explain what safe and suitable food means under the Food Act.

Find out more

Who to contact

If you have questions about the Food Act 2014, email info@mpi.govt.nz.

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