Processed foods from animals

To import processed food from animals, you must either be registered as a food importer with MPI, or use a registered food importer. There are also other standards and requirements. We've created a step-by-step process to explain what's involved.


Step1

Step 1: What you need to know

An overview of importing processed food from animals from start to finish.

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What this import process includes

This import process is for processed food containing animal products for human consumption including processed foods containing:

  • fish and seafood
  • meat and meat products
  • dairy or egg products
  • bee products
  • other animal products such as collagen and gelatine.

If your processed food contains any other ingredient, such as plant-based products, then you need to comply with the import process for each ingredient.

Importing related products

Processes for importing products related to processed food from animals, like unprocessed animal products and supplemented foods, are elsewhere on the website. Follow these steps if you're importing:

To import processed foods from animals you need to know about:

Biosecurity requirements
  • ensuring your product is covered by an import health standard (IHS)
  • complying with the requirements of the IHS
  • permits and certificates, if needed
  • arranging manufacturer's declarations or treatment certificates, if needed
  • booking a transitional facility, if required.
NZ Customs Service requirements
  • product prohibitions and restrictions
  • tariffs and permits
  • using a customs broker.
Food Act requirements
  • food importer registration
  • general requirements of registered food importers – sourcing and keeping food safe and suitable, records, and recalls
  • the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code, including labelling, composition and restricted foods
  • foods classed of "high regulatory interest" and "increased regulatory interest" (these will require food safety clearance)
  • how to get food safety clearance
  • fees and charges that apply for services provided by MPI and other agencies.
Guides to help you
Additional requirements

Organic food, irradiated food, genetically modified food, and supplemented food have additional requirements besides the Food Act. Learn more:

Restrictions on importing trout

If you want to import foods containing trout for sale, you need to get approval from the Minister of Conservation.

Are you using wood packaging?

If your consignment is shipped to New Zealand on wooden pallets, or wood has been used to package any part of your consignment, you'll also need to comply with requirements for importing wood packaging.

Export goods returning New Zealand

All exporters are legally obliged to notify MPI if their export goods are being returned to New Zealand – for example, if a consignment has been rejected by an importing country.

Before the product is returned to New Zealand the exporter or importer should email the details to food.assurance@mpi.govt.nz

Step2

Step 2: What you need to do

The tasks you need to complete.

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Meet biosecurity requirements

You'll need to understand and comply with the biosecurity requirements for your product.

Find the import health standard (IHS) for your product

Biosecurity requirements are detailed in documents called import health standards. The import health standard (IHS) for your product will tell you what you need to do to successfully import it. This may include getting manufacturers' declarations, zoosanitary certificates, and testing/treatment certificates when required. You can often only import certain products from the countries listed or named in the IHS.

Specified requirements for processed foods containing risk animal products are listed in the IHS Specified foods for human consumption containing animal products. Check this IHS first for your product.

Download the IHS for importing specified foods containing animal products [PDF, 383 KB]

If your product isn't listed in the specified foods, search for the IHS for your product.

Products that meet all of the requirements specified in the IHS are eligible for biosecurity clearance. If your product doesn't meet IHS requirements, you may have to:

  • arrange and pay for quarantine of your goods while MPI assesses your application
  • reship your goods at your cost
  • pay for your consignment to be destroyed.
  • If you have any questions, email animal.imports@mpi.govt.nz.

If your import doesn't meet all IHS requirements

If your product doesn't meet all the IHS requirements (for example, if it has been treated using a different method from what is in the IHS), you can ask MPI about assessing your product under equivalent measures.  This is known as 'equivalence'.

You'll need to supply information to show how the risks managed by the IHS will be managed to an equivalent level (for example, by providing information about processing details).  

You'll also need to provide MPI with supporting information, as listed in the IHS. MPI will issue a biosecurity permit if your request is approved.

To ask about equivalence and getting a permit, email animal.imports@mpi.govt.nz

When there is no IHS

If there's no IHS for the product you want to import, you can't import it. However, you can ask MPI to consider developing a new IHS for your product.

Book a transitional facility, if required

MPI approves transitional facilities to hold and manage goods that are imported into New Zealand that may have a biosecurity risk. These goods may have to be inspected or treated at the transitional facility before they can be cleared by MPI.

You or your customs broker need to arrange for your products to be transferred to an approved transitional facility, before your goods arrive in New Zealand. 

All treatments at a transitional facility must be done by an approved treatment provider. You are liable for any costs associated with non-compliance or contamination.

Search for an approved treatment provider [PDF, 128 KB]

Apply for an import permit, if required

The IHS will tell you if an import permit is needed for your food product. If required, apply for a permit by completing the application form and returning it to MPI. Fees apply.

Download the biosecurity import permit (animal products) application form:

Meet New Zealand Customs Service requirements

Check with the New Zealand Customs Service (NZ Customs) whether:

  • you can import the product without restriction
  • the product will be subject to duties or tariffs
  • an NZ Customs permit is needed.

Visit the NZ Customs website to:

Consider using a customs broker

A customs broker will help you get import entry clearance. Some services provided by the New Zealand Customs Service can only be accessed by registered customs brokers.

Many freight and transport companies employ their own brokers but if you need help finding one, contact the Customs Brokers and Freight Forwarders Federation.

Submit all required documentation

You or your customs broker need to make sure that all of the necessary documentation is submitted to MPI within 48 hours of the consignment arriving in New Zealand.

If required by the IHS, documentation may include:

  • a copy of the zoosanitary certificate
  • a manufacturer's certificate
  • treatment certificates
  • purchase invoice
  • bill of lading or airway bill.
Get a CITES permit, if needed

Some animal products are protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) and cannot be transported between countries, or can only be imported with a permit.

Meet Food Act requirements

Registered food importers

All food coming into New Zealand must be imported by a registered food importer. If you want to import food, you can:

  • use a registered food importer, such as an agent
  • register as a food importer (available to New Zealand residents only).
Becoming a registered food importer

You can request to be a food importer when completing your New Zealand Customs Service (Customs) client registration application. Tick 'Yes' when asked if you wish to be a food importer.

When you have completed your form you can:

If you need help, phone NZ Customs on 0800 42 87 86.

Transition from listed food importer to registered food importer

If you were a listed food importer with MPI before 1 March 2016, you were considered to be a registered food importer until at least 1 July 2016. You need to have re-applied after 1 July 2016 to continue to be a registered food importer. To find out when you need to register by:

  • check your Letter of listing to find out what day and month you became a listed food importer. It doesn't matter what year.
  • find the corresponding day and month between 1 July 2016 and 30 June 2017.

That is the date by which you must register (or have registered) as a food importer. If you can't find out the day and month you became a listed food importer, email approvals@mpi.co.nz.

Comply with regulations and standards

All food businesses must comply with the Food Act 2014, Food Regulations 2015 and the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code. For example, food sold in retail shops must have labels in English, with a New Zealand distributor's name and address.

You must also comply with regulations about sourcing foods that are safe and suitable, storing and transporting those foods, and keeping records.

Find out more
Make a non-beef declaration, if relevant

If you're importing a product that could be thought to contain beef but it doesn't – or it contains less than 5% – you can make a non-beef declaration on your import entry form with Customs. This will help you avoid unnecessary food safety clearance requirements.

A non-beef declaration can be useful for processed foods such as stuffed pasta, sausages and soups.

Read Appendix 1 of Importing Food into New Zealand for a list of foods that can carry a non-beef declaration.

Check if your product requires food safety clearance

MPI must check the safety of foods we class "of regulatory interest" before they can be imported and sold. These are types of foods that have made people sick in the past, or may make people sick. Customs or your customs broker will tell you if a food safety clearance is required.

Processed food from animals of regulatory interest
  • food containing certain seafood or shellfish
  • soft, curd and fresh cheeses
  • raw milk products
  • smoked fish products
  • food containing more than 5% bovine meat (beef, buffalo, bison)
  • fermented meat products, meat paste and pâté.

If, after checking, these foods are shown to be safe, you'll be given a food safety clearance and the food can be imported.

Note that foods of high regulatory interest can only be imported from specified countries and may require an official certificate. Products that don't meet these requirements will be prohibited.

Processed food from animals from Australia

Foods that contain bivalve molluscan shellfish or more than 5% beef that are coming from Australia are of high regulatory interest and will require a food safety clearance.

You can import any other processed food from animals without a food safety clearance.

If your processed food doesn't need food safety clearance, go to Step 3 – Getting your import documentation.

Getting food safety clearance

If you're importing processed food that requires food safety clearance, you may be asked to demonstrate its safety in one of 4 ways:

  1. NZ Importer Assurance: A registered food importer that's verified by MPI can be issued with a NZ Importer Assurance (previously known as a Multiple Release Permit).
  2. Manufacturer's declaration: Foods containing bovine meat that are imported from Australia must be accompanied by a manufacturer's declaration that the meat is of Australian or New Zealand origin.
  3. Official certificate: For some countries, MPI will accept official certificates (from the appropriate government agency) as assurance the food is safe.
  4. Sampling and testing: In some cases, food will have to be sampled and tested. MPI will tell you if this is required.
How to apply

You can request food safety clearance using the Trade Single Window or by filling out a food safety clearance application form.

Trade Single Window

Follow the instructions on the Trade Single Window (TSW) website. You'll need to log in using the RealMe login service, and then register as a TSW user.

Food safety clearance application

If you don't use TSW, download and complete an application form. Follow the instructions for guidance.

When complete, email the form to imported.food@mpi.govt.nz.

Your application should include:

  • an invoice for the consignment
  • the bill of lading or airway bill

If the food being imported requires an official certificate or a manufacturer's declaration, you should also include that with your declaration.

When inspection, sampling or testing is required

MPI will tell you if the food you're importing needs to be inspected, sampled or tested. If that happens, MPI will sample the product and send samples to your choice of MPI-approved laboratory. You'll need to pay the sampling, transport and testing costs – and share the test results with MPI.

Find out more

MPI's Central Clearing House can also answer questions:

Step3

Step 3: Getting your import documentation

How you know you've met MPI requirements.

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Most imported foods containing animal products need biosecurity clearance, and some need a biosecurity import permit. Some may also need a food safety clearance.

Biosecurity clearance

If a biosecurity inspector is satisfied that your products comply with the import health standard (IHS), clearance will be issued soon after your goods arrive.

If your products don't comply with an IHS, your goods may not be cleared. However, you may be given the chance to provide further documentation for your products.

Food safety clearance

A Food Safety Officer (FSO) will assess your application against the requirements of the Food Act. You'll be notified of the outcome through the Trade Single Window system or directly by MPI.

Clearance may be given 'without direction', which means you're free to move and sell the product in New Zealand. If the food requires inspection or sampling, or it's not safe and suitable for people to eat, then you'll receive clearance with direction. Directions given may include reprocessing the food, re-exporting it, or destroying it.

Importer responsibilities and alerts

Food can't be sold that is unsafe, unfit for human consumption, or contaminated. It's your responsibility as an importer to ensure that all legal requirements are met.

Food importers should regularly check any alerts issued for food recalled overseas, and for developing risks.

Who to contact

If you have questions about:

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