Poultry primary processing (slaughter and butchery) food safety

You're a primary processor if you slaughter and dress poultry. Find out your responsibilities as a primary processor of poultry.

What primary processors must do

As a poultry primary processor, you must:

  • operate under a registered risk management programme (RMP)
  • comply with the Human Consumption Specifications (including when building or altering your premises)
  • carry out ante- and post-mortem examination of your birds
  • carry out sampling for campylobacter, E. coli and salmonella during processing, in accordance with the National Microbial Database (NMD) (currently broilers only, as defined in the NMD Specifications)
  • arrange regular visits by an independent verification agency.

Find out about RMPs:

Besides RMPs, you need to follow other food safety requirements if you primary process poultry or poultry products. All specifications below are made under the Animal Products Act.

Human Consumption Specifications

If you're processing food for human consumption, you must meet the minimum requirements in the Human Consumption Specifications.

Refer to the Administration Consolidation (version 3). Sections 40, 41, 70 and 71 are particularly relevant to the poultry industry. You'll also need to comply with the general requirements:

You also need to be familiar with the amendment notices, which capture small changes or revisions to the original specifications. From time to time, a new administration consolidation document will be made, which brings together all the amendments to date.

Building or altering your premises

If you are planning to build or alter premises, first check New Zealand building legislation to ensure your building will meet the requirements for a primary processing facility. Talk to your local council to find out what the requirements are.

The Human Consumption Specifications set out the minimum additional requirements for premises used for animal product processing. See the Administration Consolidation (version 3), part 1.

If you're exporting, you must also meet the requirements in the Industry Standard 2 – Design and Construction manual (IS2). This is an old meat manual that gives practical guidance to meet these requirements. If you don't export, you can use this as guidance but it is not mandatory.

Industry Standard 2 was written for red meat premises. It has been amended to make it suitable for poultry, in technical directive TD 02/055:

If you change the physical location or layout of your premises, you may need to update your RMP:

Ante-mortem and Post-mortem Examination Notice

If you're processing food destined for human or animal consumption, you must also meet the minimum requirements in the Ante- and Post-mortem Examination Notice, which covers examination of your birds for diseases before and after slaughter.

National Microbiological Database

If you're a primary processor of broilers, you must participate in the National Microbiological Database (NMD) testing programme and provide the results to the NMD.

Find out your testing requirements:


You need to arrange regular visits by an independent verification agency to check that you are meeting your legal requirements. Currently, only MPI's verification agency is recognised to do this for the poultry sector.

Read more about verification processes and frequencies:

Key legislation for primary processors

If you're a primary processor, you must comply with:

  • Animal Products Act 1999
  • Food Act 2014
  • legislation made under these Acts.

Legislation made under the Food Act includes the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code:

The purpose of this legislation is to help ensure you produce safe and suitable food.

Last reviewed: