Whitebait food safety rules

If you collect or process whitebait, you must meet certain legal requirements. Find out about whitebait and the law, which requirements are relevant to you, and whether you need to follow a food control plan.

Catching whitebait

The Department of Conservation (DOC) sets the rules around catching whitebait. The legal requirements and restrictions for catching whitebait fish are on the DOC website.

Whitebait and food safety

MPI’s role is to ensure that any processed whitebait is safe for human consumption.

What you need to do

The legal requirements change depending on the level of processing done by the whitebait catcher or processor.

The processing and sale of whitebait is covered by the Food Act 2014. Under the Act, people who process food must ensure their food is safe for human consumption. If you process whitebait, this means you need to have hygienic practices for processing and handling.

Limited processing of whitebait

Limited processing is when you only chill, wash, and store whitebait, to keep the fish you caught in a state that is fit for human consumption. If this is all you do you before you sell your whitebait catch you don’t need to register your food business under the Food Act.  

If you do more than limited processing

If more than limited processing takes place (for example if you prepare whitebait fritters to sell in a retail store), then you must register a food control plan (FCP). There are templates on the MPI website to help you do this.

Use the 'Basics Pack' and the 'Serve Safe Pack' or the Simply safe and suitable template.

Whitebait classification

Whitebait are fish that are the young or fry of the following species:

  • Galaxias maculatus (inanga)
  • Galaxias brevipinnis (koaro)
  • Galaxias argenteus (giant kokopu)
  • Galaxias postvectis (short jawed kokopu)
  • Galaxias fasciatus (banded kokopu)
  • Retropinna retropinna (smelt).

Find out more

Who to contact

If you have questions about whitebait food safety, email info@mpi.govt.nz

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