Steps to a custom food control plan
Manufacturers of high-risk foods will need to develop a custom food control plan and register it with MPI to meet the requirements of the Food Act. Other businesses can also choose this type of plan to personalise the way they manage food safety. We've created a step-by-step process so you can see what's involved.
What is a custom food control plan?
A food control plan (FCP) is a comprehensive plan for managing food safety. A custom FCP is a plan you develop to suit your business. In the plan, you need to identify the food safety risks involved in what you do, and show how you will manage them.
Use your plan to comply with the law, and let customers know their food is safe.
You will need to:
- develop your plan
- have it evaluated
- register it with MPI, and renew your registration each year
- get checked by a verifier (auditor)
- follow your plan to make safe food.
Read the Guide to help develop your custom food control plan, and then follow the steps on this page to register your plan.
Get your plan ready in time
From 1 March 2016, all new businesses must register their plans under the Food Act 2014 before they make or sell food.
If you're an existing business, you can keep operating under your current registration but you will have to change over (register your new FCP) by a set date. Check the transition timetable to see when you'll need to register your new FCP.
If you already have a food safety programme, you have until 30 November 2018 to apply to register under the new Act.
Follow the steps
If you manufacture high-risk food which you sell to other businesses, you need to create a custom food control plan. This includes manufacturers of:
- meals and prepared food
- food for vulnerable populations – such as infants or the elderly
- meat, poultry or fish products
- dairy products
- commercially sterilised food products
- vegetable protein and other protein products
- ready-to-eat salads
- non-shelf stable sauces, spreads, dips, soups, broths, gravies or dressings
- processed egg products
- wholesale baked goods (when more than just bread is made)
If you are a food service business (like a restaurant, café or bar) or a retailer (like a supermarket, deli or butcher) you can either use a template food control plan or develop your own custom plan.
The custom plan allows you to manage food safety in a way that uniquely suits what you do. You can develop a custom plan from scratch, or by using parts of a template.
What does the plan involve?
In your custom plan, you need to show how you manage food safety and that you have basic procedures in place for things like cleaning, staff training, and equipment maintenance. MPI templates can help you develop these sections.
Your plan must also identify the things specific to your business that could put food safety at risk. You will:
- detail the ingredients and processes you use to make your food
- identify the key things that could affect the safety of your food (we call these hazards)
- show what you do to control the hazards throughout the manufacturing or production process.
Use templates to help you
MPI's templates can help you develop your custom food control plan.
The first part of the template (called the Basics Pack) makes creating your plan easier because you can use the relevant parts of it for your own plan. Using templates also means those parts don't need to be independently evaluated later. However, you will still need to write parts of your plan for processes that are not covered by templates, or where you prefer to do things differently.
Parts of the Basics Pack you could use include:
Management: Use this section to fill in your business details, keep records, and provide information about your location, equipment, and staff training.
Places Basics: This covers the basic procedures that all businesses must have in place to keep food safe at their premises, such as cleaning and maintaining equipment.
People Basics: This covers what you will do when staff are unwell, and how you monitor staff sickness, hand cleaning, and personal hygiene.
Food Basics: This includes your procedures to keep food safe, such as cooking temperature, chilling and frozen food storage, and food labelling.
Records Basics: Use this sub-section to record the things you need to check on a daily or weekly basis. You will record things like the temperature your food is cooked to or stored at, and anything that changes or goes wrong.
Download the Basics Pack [PDF, 2.9 MB]
Identify food safety hazards specific to your business
To identify the food safety hazards that are specific to your business, draw a process flow diagram showing:
- the ingredients you use
- the step-by-step process you use to make your product – this could include transporting, storing, washing, cooking, and packaging.
Look up each ingredient on MPI's hazard database to see what food safety hazards MPI has identified for those ingredients. Hazards include things like germs and bacteria, chemicals, and material like glass, metal, and plastic that could contaminate food.
You could also check information from other credible sources like official government web sites or well-recognised scientific organisations.
Examine every hazard
You need to work out what happens for each hazard at each step of the manufacturing or production process for that ingredient – for example, if any bacteria will grow or reduce at that step. Also think about whether new hazards could enter at any stage.
Work out how you will control each hazard
Once you have identified the hazards you need to work out how you are going to control them, so that the food you produce is safe. MPI has some hazard data sheets which give information on how to control common hazards.
Record your control plan
Write up your control plan for each hazard. Write down the checks you need to do to make sure that the controls are working, who is going to do the checks, and when.
Use resources for creating your plan
MPI is developing a food control plan manual, which takes you through the steps for creating your plan. This will be available soon.
In the meantime, the resources for creating a food safety programme under the old Food Act are still relevant.
Once you have created your plan, you must have it independently evaluated. The evaluation will check that your plan contains everything you need, and that you are likely to produce safe and suitable food if you follow it.
You must include a report from your evaluator with your application for registration.
Before you register, you need to contact a verifier, and get them to confirm they will verify your business. The confirmation has to be included in your registration application.
Verifiers are professionals who must visit your business to check you are making safe food.
To get a verifier (auditor):
- check this list of auditors to see who is able to verify your business
- contact them before you start registering
- ask them for a letter to say they will verify you
- include the letter with your application.
To register with MPI, you will need:
- a completed registration form
- your custom food control plan - you must include a copy of your completed plan with your application form, including site plans for every address you operate from.
- a report from an evaluator endorsing your custom food control plan (see Step 3)
- a letter from a verifier (auditor) to say that they will verify you. Your verifier must be different from your evaluator.
- a completed scope of operations form specific to your type of business
- address details for all the places where you make or sell food
- a copy of the Companies Act registration certificates for any parts of your business that are limited liability companies.
You also have to pay for registering your business. The application fee is detailed on the registration form.
Complete the registration form
Download the MPI registration form [PDF, 1.3 MB]
Complete the scope of operations form
You'll need to tell us exactly what your business does, by filling out a scope of operations form.
The form includes:
- the Food Act sectors you operate in – for example, retail, food service, manufacturing
- your products – the type of food you make or sell
- processes – how you make your food, for example, is it reheated, fermented, or sterilised?
- trading operations – how and where you sell your products.
On the form, choose the sections that apply to your business and tick boxes for all the things that you do.
Download the scope of operations form [PDF, 597 KB]
Send completed documentation
Once you have all the documents needed to register with MPI, you can send your application to:.
- or post to:
Ministry for Primary Industries
PO Box 2526
Timeframe for checks
If you are a new business, your verifier must visit within 3 months of registering. If you are an existing business, your verifier must visit within 6 months of registering. MPI will notify your nominated verification agency (verifier) when your food control plan is registered.
Frequency of visits
How often you are checked will depend on how successfully you are managing food safety. This could be as little as once every 18 months, if you are managing food safety well. It could be as often as every 3 months if you are not doing well. You must pay for each visit, so the better your food safety systems, the less it will cost you.
What a verifier does
The verifier will check you are following your food control plan effectively and keeping all the records you need. They will give feedback on areas that need improvement.
Once you have a plan in place, you must:
- follow your plan to make safe food and keep all necessary records
- update your plan if you make any changes to what you do – for example, if you start using processes or types of food that are not covered by your plan. Significant amendments need to be evaluated and registered. Check with your verifier if you are not sure what is significant
- renew your registration with MPI every year
- contact MPI if your business changes ownership or shuts down.
Who to contact
If you have questions about food control plans, email firstname.lastname@example.org.