Land-based seafood processing

If you're a primary or secondary processor, the food safety requirements for your business will depend on whether your products are intended for the New Zealand market or for export.

Identify the kind of processing your business does to find out which requirements you need to meet.

What is primary seafood processing?

Examples of primary seafood processing on land include:

  • heading, gutting and filleting fish
  • tubing squid
  • tailing crustaceans
  • shucking, heat shocking, land-based wet storage and depuration (cleansing) of bivalve molluscan shellfish (BMS).

Animal Products (Definition of Primary Processor) Notice  

What is secondary seafood processing?

Secondary processing of seafood products includes processes at any stage beyond primary processing. Examples of secondary processing include:

  • acidification, salting, brining, smoking, thermal processing, refrigeration and storage
  • extraction, drying or blending of powders from fish or shellfish
  • adding non-animal product ingredients such as breadcrumbs and sauces to seafood products.

Operating under legislation

Land-based seafood processing premises that carry out primary or secondary processing must operate under one of the following:

  • the Animal Products Act 1999 using a registered risk management programme (RMP)
  • the Food Act 2014 using an audited food control plan (FCP)
  • the Food Hygiene Regulations 1974.

Operating under the Food Act

The Food Act 2014 came into force on 1 March 2016. The Act applies to all new food businesses that started from that date.

Existing businesses (registered under the Food Act 1981 or Food Hygiene Regulations 1974 before 29 February 2016) are making the transition between 2016 and 2019. Find out when your type of business has to start operating under the Act.

Processors operating under an RMP

Almost all land-based seafood processing premises that undertake primary or secondary processing, especially for export, need to have a registered risk management programme (RMP).

Processors that need an RMP

You need to operate under an RMP if you're a:

  • primary processor whose product is intended for export
  • primary processor selling by wholesale in the New Zealand market
  • secondary processor preparing seafood for export to markets requiring official assurances (export certificates).

Learn more about managing risks for seafood processors.

Primary processors that don't need an RMP

You don't need an RMP if you:

  • sell retail and/or wholesale seafood only on the New Zealand market
  • sell retail seafood only on the New Zealand market
  • process fish bait, fish berley, chum or ground bait.

Find out more about the exemptions and requirements for primary processors in this document prepared by MPI.

Secondary processors that don't need an RMP

An RMP is not required if you're a secondary processor that:

  • processes fish only for the New Zealand market
  • exports to countries where there is no requirement for official assurances (export certificates).

Code of practice (COP) for seafood processors

The Processing of seafood products code of practice (COP) can help you to prepare a successful RMP and manage the incidence of foodborne illnesses such as Listeriosis.

Learn more about the COP for processing seafood products:

Processors operating under the Food Hygiene Regulations (FHR) or using a food control plan (FCP)

Depending on their circumstances, processors exempt from or not operating under an RMP must:

  • operate under the Food Hygiene Regulations 1974, which are administered by your local council (territorial authority), or
  • use an FCP, audited by an external expert.

If you choose to operate under an audited FCP, you will be exempt from the requirements of the FHR.

Find out more about managing food safety risks:

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