Primary meat processing (slaughter and butchery) requirements

Find out how to comply with the Animal Products Act 1999 if you slaughter or butcher animals or birds for the New Zealand market. This is known as primary processing.

What is a primary meat processor?

For meat products, you are considered to be a primary processor if you:

  • slaughter and dress mammals or birds (emus or ostriches), or
  • remove, extract, or harvest animal material from live mammals or birds for the purpose of human or animal consumption.

Note: If you're a hunter, or if you process poultry or pet food, you're not considered to be a primary meat processor.

Find out about homekill, game, and wild foods

Find out about processing poultry

Processing pet food

Requirements for primary meat processors

Primary meat processors need to operate under a risk management programme (RMP).

An RMP is:

  • a written programme that's designed to manage the hazards, wholesomeness, and labelling of animal material and products
  • required by the Animal Products Act 1999.

Animal Products Act 1999 – NZ Legislation

Find out more

Risk management programmes – developing, registration and verification, and fees

Meat manuals, guides, standards and list of amendments

The Meat roadmap will help you to find out which requirements apply to your business:

Meat roadmap – to help you find out the requirements that apply to your business [PDF, 1.3 MB]

Requirements for micro abattoirs

Abattoirs are businesses that slaughter and dress farmed animals for human consumption. Micro abattoirs are those that have a low throughput and limited scope of operation. They can process farmed mammals, ostriches, and emus.

The Animal Products Act requires all abattoirs to have an RMP. We've developed a template for micro abattoir operators to use, and a guide to help with completing the template.

Risk management programme (RMP) template for micro abattoirs [PDF, 842 KB]

Guidance document: How to use the RMP template for micro abattoirs [PDF, 261 KB]

Who to contact

If you have questions about primary meat processing, email

Last reviewed: