Find out about running your own food business and access the relevant forms.

Food Safety Guidelines

If you grow, manufacture, import, store, transport, export or sell food or beverage products for human consumption, you need to meet certain food safety requirements. And if you manufacture and sell food for animals (like pets), there are also rules you need to follow.

The type of food business and the way you trade in food determines the legislation you need to follow. You might need to operate under the Food Act 2014, Wine Act 2003, Animal Products Act 1999, or the Agricultural Compounds and Veterinary Medicines Act 1997. MPI’s My Food Rules tool will help you find which Act you need to operate under, and the plan or programme you need to use

Food activities that are low risk, either because they don't happen often or cater to only a small number of people, do not need a licence.

This applies to some fundraising and community group food activities, and some businesses.

However, even if you don't need a written plan or programme, you must still comply with food safety laws, and make sure your food is safe and suitable to eat Be Food Safe

Types of businesses that don't need a licence

  • home-based childcare providers who prepare food for children in their care
  • small accommodation operators who provide food to less than 10 guests
  • growers selling unprocessed, home-grown fruit and vegetables directly to consumers, such as at farm gates or farmers markets
  • people who sell only pre-packaged foods that don't need refrigeration or freezing, like packets of biscuits or cans of food
  • commercial fishing operators providing meals to their crew

Fundraising and community group exemptions

  • selling food for fundraising less than 20 times a year - fundraising activities include sausage sizzles, raffles and charity events
  • sharing food with others at sports clubs, social clubs or marae where food is not the purpose of the event, e.g. providing nibbles at a bowling club games night or serving food at a tangi

For a full list of exemptions, see Schedule 3 of the Food Act 2014 Schedule 3 of the Food Act - NZ Legislation website

For further information on food businesses that are exempt check out Who is exempt from Food Act requirements?

Before applying for a food registration, check if you also need:

Mobile food business licence

If you would like to operate in a public place, you will need a Trading in Public Places licence. 

Alfresco dining licence

If you would like to extend your dining area to the public space in front of your premises, you will need an Alfresco Dining licence, found here

Alcohol licence

If you intend to sell and supply alcohol, you will need the appropriate licence. You can download an alcohol licence application form on our forms page

Resource consent

Your proposed business must comply with District Plan rules. We recommend getting in touch with our planning team to discuss any requirements by phoning 0800 732 732 or emailing

Find out more about resource consents.

Building consent

Your proposed business must comply with the Building Act 2004. We recommend getting in touch with our building team to discuss your project and clarify any requirements by phoning 0800 732 732 or emailing

Further details are available on the building services pages.

Self-supply water test

If you are on self-supply water (roof/surface/ground) which will be used for food processing, hand washing and/or cleaning, then it must comply with the Food Act 2014, and you are required to:

  • have this water treated as per via filtration/chlorination/UV disinfection/other approved methods; and
  • have tested your water before first use in your business to ensure it meets all of the limits permitted. These test results are to be sent to Council when lodging your food application.

Your food business will likely operate under one of two risk-based measures – either a Food Control Plan (FCP) or a National Programme (NP) – and is dependent on the activities of your business.

We recommend you use the Ministry for Primary Industries’ (MPI) “my food rules tool”. Based on your answers, it will advise you of the type of plan you should be applying for.

Find out more on MPI's safety rules site:

Other resources

MPI has other great tools to help you work out where you fit.

There are two types of plans:

Template food control plan

You will build your plan using templates supplied by MPI. If your business activities are covered by one of the available templates, you can use this rather than creating your own custom food control plan (FCP). The Simply Safe and Suitable template is registered and verified by Southland District Council.

Forms and documents for Food Act plans and programmes are available here: Ministry for Primary Industries Food Control Plan templates and guides

Custom food control plan

Manufacturers of high-risk foods or businesses with operations that do not fit within a template control plan will need a custom food control plan (FCP), registered with MPI. Other businesses can also choose this type of plan.

MPI has created a step-by-step process to help you develop a comprehensive plan for managing food safety, which is available here: Ministry for Primary Industries Custom Food Control Plan - a step by step guide

A national programme (NP) is the way that lower-risk food businesses operate under the Food Act 2014.

There are three levels of NPs. These are based on the food safety risk of the activities a business undertakes:

National Programme 1 (lower risk)  National Programme 1 guidance  

National Programme 2 (medium risk)  National Programme 2 guidance  

National Programme 3 (higher risk)  National Programme 3 guidance  

If you're not sure your business should operate under a national programme, MPI has developed a tool called “my food rules” to help you work it out.

Full details on NPs can be found at:

All levels of NP must be registered with Southland District Council. However, you will need to engage a third-party verifier. Recognised verifiers can be searched on MPI’s website at:

Here is a checklist of our requirements:

  • Complete the application for registration form and email it to As this form is a legal document, it is important that it is completed accurately and in full. For a complete application, we require:
    • applicant’s statement to be read, signed and dated
    • scope of operations to be completed in full (found on pages 3-6)
    • if a registered limited liability company; copy of the company registration certificate
    • if on self-supply water; water test results
    • if applying for a national programme; letter from your nominated verifier.
    • arrange payment of the registration fee
      • Refer to our Fees and Charges for the application fee
      • Refer to the application form for instructions on how to make a payment
  • contact our building and planning teams to see if they have any requirements.


Should you have businesses across more than one council boundary, you can choose to either:


Should you have more than one address where food is traded from and would like to register all sites under the one application, include the Multi-site Details Form found here


Fees and charges for food businesses include:

  • registration and registration renewals
  • verification of food plan
  • corrective action assessment
  • amendments to registration
  • enforcement work undertaken by food safety officers.

Fees for food businesses are available here.

A full schedule of Southland District Council’s fees and charges is available here fees and charges page.

Your first verification is due within six weeks of registration and a verifier will make contact to organise a suitable appointment.

This verification will look at how you are managing food safety by reviewing against the 'Show' section of your template food control plan or national programme. You will need to have your plan and records available to show your verifier.

The findings of the verification will assess any concerns that need to be addressed and will then determine the outcome and frequency of future verifications.

How often you are verified will depend on:

  • the complexity of your food processes
  • the types of food you sell
  • how well you manage food safety.

Guidelines on determining the frequency of verifications are available here:

Determining Verification Frequencies Template Food Control Plans
Determining Verification Frequencies National Programmes

If you make changes to your operations you must notify the environmental health team as soon as possible.

Changes such as:

  • ownership of the business
  • location of the business
  • your verification agency
  • your food safety manager
  • your contact details (particularly your email address)
  • your products and processes
  • suspending or surrendering your registration.


Mobile food businesses must comply with the same food safety requirements as any other food operator and are required to have a food registration.

To operate a mobile food business:

In a public place

A food registration and trading in public places licence is required.

At organised events and markets only

A food registration is required.

On private property (including home occupancy)

A food registration is required, and a resource consent and building consent may be needed.

For full details on selling food in a public place (including application, conditions and location schedule) simply follow this link

Home-based food businesses must comply with the same food safety requirements as any other food operator and are required to have a food registration.

Please refer to the information above to find out what steps you need to take to register your business.

Whether you’re running a small community fundraiser or a large-scale commercial event, it is the event organiser’s responsibility to ensure food vendors comply with the food regulations.

To find out whether vendors need a food registration, refer to MPI’s fundraising and community events food safety rules here:

Other resources:

For advice on registering a new food business or making changes to an existing business please contact the health team by email or phone on 0800 732 732.

To contact our other teams:



Phone 0800 732 732



Phone 0800 732 732



Phone 0800 732 732