Introduction to the National Microbiological Database programme

The National Microbiological Database (NMD) is a monitoring programmes for red meat and poultry processors.

What is the National Microbiological Database (NMD)?

The Microbiological Monitoring Programme tests animal product samples. Results are collected and stored for analysis in the NMD. All processors of meat products must take part, including processors of:

  • cattle (including bobby calves and other bovine animals)
  • goats
  • deer
  • ratites (such as emus and ostriches)
  • sheep
  • pigs
  • poultry.

Check what requirements you need to meet to take part in the NMD.

National Microbiological Database programme requirements

How the NMD programme works

Data is collected for the NMD programme and reported to the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI). The NMD is maintained by MPI.

Data is reported in 3 stages:

  • by the sampler at the time of sampling
  • by the lab when they receive the sample
  • after samples have been analysed.

The operator checks data from samples every week to make sure that hygiene standards are being met. The database automatically highlights any results that exceed safe limits.

Every 3 months operators are sent a ranked list that shows their premises' performance against the national benchmark. A statistical summary of all data is published on the MPI website. This is known as the National Profile. This data doesn't identify any of the participants.

Through this reporting, operators can measure their performance against national results. This encourages everyone to achieve the best possible food safety outcomes.

What the NMD tests for

The monitoring programme measures microorganisms that are a risk to food safety. The programme will tell the operator if their current processes are producing food that is safe to eat.

Testing requirements are different for different types of meat. Red meat is sampled and tested weekly, except for premises which process less than 10,000 carcasses per year. These premises only need to sample on one processing week per month. Ratites need to be sampled every processing week.

Pork, sheep, and ratites

For pork, sheep, and ratites, only fresh carcasses need testing.


For deer, fresh carcasses and primal cuts need testing.

Beef, bobby calves, and goats

For beef, bobby calves, and goats, all product types are tested. This includes:

  • fresh carcasses
  • chilled carcasses
  • primal cuts
  • cartons of bulk meat.


If you process more than 1 million poultry broilers a year, samples will be tested daily. If you process lower numbers, samples will be tested weekly.

What happens to samples?

The samples are analysed using defined methods in laboratories approved for the programme. The sampling and testing are standardised so results can be compared between processors. Once results are authorised by a lab, they are entered into the NMD.

NMD research

Read about NMD-related research.

A baseline survey of antimicrobial resistance in bacteria from selected New Zealand foods, 2009 - 2010 [PDF, 427 KB]

Review of Porcine Carcass Salmonella Testing [PDF, 63 KB]

Who to contact

If you have questions about the NMD email

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