Who is exempt from Food Act requirements?

Under the Food Act 2014, some food businesses and community groups are not required to operate under a food control plan or a national programme. Find out if this applies to you.

Who doesn't need a food control plan or national programme?

Food activities that are low risk, either because they don't happen often or cater to only a small number of people, don't need to operate under a food control plan or a national programme. 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 still have to comply with food safety laws and make sure your food is safe and suitable to eat. We have brochures available covering the basics of food safety:

Fundraising and community group exemptions

You don't need a food control plan or programme if you are:

  • 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. For example, providing nibbles at a bowling club games night or serving food at a tangi.

Businesses and education providers exemptions

Types of businesses that don't need a food control plan or programme include:

  • 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.

For a full list of exemptions, see Schedule 3 of the Food Act 2014.

Exemptions for specific businesses

The Food Act 2014 exempts some food activities from registration.

The Act also gives MPI the power to exempt a business – which would not otherwise be exempt – from operating under a food control plan or national programme. If you are not exempt, but you think you should be, you can apply to MPI for an exemption.

The types of activities that may be considered would be similar to those listed above, such as infrequent events or activities that may not be considered food for sale.

You will need to show that you understand how to manage food safety hazards and ensure that your food is safe to eat. You will also need to show that you have a valid and appropriate reason for why your business should be treated as a special case.

Some factors considered when assessing exemption applications include:

  • Hazards associated with the food being produced and the processes used.
  • Potential impact on consumers.
  • Frequency and scale of the operation.
  • Comparison against similar businesses that have undergone registration.

You are unlikely to be granted an exemption if you:

  • produce or manufacture high-risk foods
  • supply foods to high-risk consumers such as young children or hospitals
  • are exporting your products.

If you think you fall into one or more of these categories but you still want to be exempt, contact us before applying, so we can discuss the best options available to you. Email approvals@mpi.govt.nz

Find out more

Not sure if you are exempt from operating under a food control plan or national programme? Try MPI's online tool – My food rules.

Who to contact

If you have questions about exemptions, email info@mpi.govt.nz

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