Option 2: Thinking of starting a new food business?

Starting a new food business can be exciting but there are rules to follow. These steps will help ensure you are making and selling food in a safe and suitable way.

Step 1: Find out the rules

You need to follow the rules for your type of food business. There are different rules depending on how many risks you need to manage in making and selling your food type.

Our online tool called 'Where Do I Fit?' will tell you what you need to do.


Carla wants to start a Mexican restaurant. She has the finance sorted and knows that there are food safety rules she has to meet, but she doesn’t know what they are.

She received a pamphlet from his bank when she was arranging a loan. The pamphlet directs her to the MPI website. She decides to check it out and finds the “Where do I fit?” tool.

John is a cattle farmer. Every year he uses three paddocks on his farm to plant organic wheat. He supplies the wheat he grows to a local mill where it's milled into flour. John is not a member of NZGAP, Global GAP or any other industry programme.

John is not sure if the Food Act applies to him because he's a cattle farmer and only does a bit of growing on the side. He finds the “Where do I fit?” tool on the MPI website and gives it a go to see if it does.

"Where do I fit?" confirms, John needs a National Programme 1 (NP1).

Step 2: Create a plan to make safe food

You will need to follow a plan for making and selling safe food. Use the templates in our forms and templates section to help make a plan. The plan you need to complete depends on the rules you need to follow. You will find these from step one.

You will need make sure everyone in your business follows the plan. 


After completing the questions in the “Where do I fit?” tool Carla knows that she needs to register a template Food Control Plan. She downloads the Simply Safe and Suitable plan from the MPI website, reads it and starts to get a feel for what is required.

It looks simple to follow. 

After finishing “Where do I fit?”, John worked through some extra questions. After which, he downloaded NP1 guidance with only the sections that apply to his business.

The guidance is straightforward and common sense. It guides John to do things like keep his spray diary up to date and to use a safe water supply.

Step 3: Register your business

All food businesses need to be registered before you start making and selling food. There are 2 options for registering – either with MPI or with your local council. The Where Do I Fit? tool will tell you where to register.

Carla makes contact with her local council to register her template Food Control Plan. The council asks her to complete:

  • an application form
  • a scope of operations form.

The council confirms that one of their Environmental Health Officers will be Carla's verifier. The council tells Carla that the verifier will come and check her business within 6 weeks. Carla can start trading once she has registered her plan. 

Because John’s farm sits within one council district, he needs to register with his local council. He gives the council a call and asks them to send him the paperwork he needs to fill in. They tell him to:

  • complete an application form
  • complete a scope of operations form
  • provide a letter from a verifier to confirm they will verify his National Programme.

John doesn’t know where to find a verifier so he looks on the MPI website. He finds a step-by-step guide with a link to a map on it.
The map lists verifiers that will verify NP1s in his area. He rings around the people on the list and finds someone who can do it for the best price and in the timeframe John needs.

Step 4: Get checked

Once you have a plan or programme in place, you will need to get everything checked by a person (a verifier) to ensure you are making and selling safe and suitable food.

Video: What's a verification? (1:28)

[Jazz background music, narrator talks while a hand can be seen drawing a cartoon of a chef]

0:00 So, you’re wanting to start a food business, and all that’s on your mind is just making the food and making some money.

0:08 However, before you do that you need to register with your council or with MPI.

0:13 And then get it checked. Right? Right.

0.16 So listen up! This check-up or properly known as a food safety verification shows that you can demonstrate safe food practices, have an understanding for food safety, and you practise it every day.

[A hand draws a chef in a kitchen with another person. A folder titled 'Food safety verification' is on the bench.]

0:28 Why? Because if you don’t make safe food, people get sick [sound of flies, sick sound], they blame it on the last thing they ate, they complain to the council, they complain to their friends, they complain online, and essentially tarnish the reputation of your business.

[Drawing of a building with an "Out of business" sign across it]

0:42 Food safety is absolutely crucial for keeping both your customers and your business safe.

0:48 But how do you know if you’re keeping food safe so you can pass your verification?

0:52 Your local food safety verifiers are here to coach you along the way and suggest tips and tricks to make sure you’re getting your food safety right.

[Drawing of a chef talking to verifier with speech bubbles saying "Does this look right", "If this happens again what should I do?", "What's the legal requirement for...", "How do I check for pests?", "How can I do this better?"] 

1:00 Get to know them, ask them questions, and take in all you can from your verifier session.

1:06 With a good understanding of food safety, you can spend more time making safe food and less time with your verifier.

1:12 Happy belly, happy customer. [belch sound]

1:16 For a more in depth look at what happens at a verification, check out our next video. 

[Video of an egg being broken into a frying pan with a title across it saying "Food Act 2014"]

[End of transcript]

A verifier comes to check Carla’s business. The verifier expects that Carla has:

  • filled in the relevant parts of her Simply Safe and Suitable plan
  • started keeping the required records.

They ask Carla questions to find out if she understands how to do the right things to make safe food. They also watch her and her staff make food to ensure that they do the things her plan requires. 

John can start trading after he registers his National Programme with his local council. A verifier comes and checks his business within 6 weeks of getting registered.

The verifier wants to see that John understands the food safety risks for his business and knows how to manage them. The verifier wants to see evidence of this, like John’s spray diary is up to date.

The verifier won't need to come back once they are confident that John understands the risks and is managing them. The verifier will only return if something goes wrong in the future.

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