Food safety rules for beekeepers

It’s important for beekeepers to know the food safety rules and regulations. These will help you make sure your honey is safe and suitable to eat. Learn what’s required, and how to manage food safety risks such as tutin contamination.

Tutin contamination

The native plant tutu contains a poison called tutin. If bees collect honeydew from tutu, tutin can get into honey.

All honey that is sold in New Zealand must comply with the tutin limits in the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code (the Code). Beekeepers and packers of honey must follow at least 1 of the options described in the Food (Tutin in Honey) Standard 2016. They must also be able to show that their honey complies with the Code.

If you only produce honey for your own use, you don’t need to comply with the Code. MPI recommends that you make sure your honey meets tutin limits, though, so you can be sure it is safe.

Managing tutin contamination in honey

Producing honey for sale in New Zealand

Selling honey

Most food businesses that offer food for sale need to meet requirements under the Food Act. This includes beekeepers who extract or pack honey for sale.

These beekeepers need to:

  • register with their local council as a National Programme Level 1 (NP1), which is under the Food Act 2014
  • have their activities checked by a verifier from a recognised agency.

If you operate under an NP1 registration you are responsible for the safety and suitability of the packaged honey you produce. For example, you need to check how the beekeeper has managed tutin in their honey.

A member of a beekeeping club who has an NP1 registration can extract and pack honey supplied by other members. A hobbyist beekeeper can supply honey to an NP1 operator to extract, bottle, and return to them.

An NP1 registration is valid for 2 years.

Hobbyist beekeepers do not need to be registered or verified if:

  • any honey they sell was pre-packaged in a facility registered with the council or MPI, and
  • they only sell honey direct to consumers (for example, at a local market).

Bee products under the Food Act

Labelling

Packaged honey needs to be accurately labelled. This can be done by the packer, or by the beekeeper or person selling the honey. If a product is being sold in New Zealand or Australia, its composition and labelling must meet the rules in the Food Standards Code.

Bee products labelling and composition requirements

Supplying bee products for export

Beekeepers who are supplying honey intended for export must:

  • list as a beekeeper with MPI (or meet exemption criteria)
  • meet traceability and record-keeping requirements
  • ensure the bee products are fit for purpose.

When you list as a beekeeper with MPI this will be valid for 12 months. You need to renew your listing annually from the date of first listing, and pay the listing fee each year.

Beekeeper requirements – honey exports

Last reviewed: