Land-based seafood processing and food safety

If you're a primary or secondary processor, the food safety requirements for your business will depend on whether your products are for the New Zealand market or export.

Identify the kind of processing your business does to find out which requirements you need to meet.

What is primary seafood processing?

Examples of primary seafood processing on land include:

  • heading, gutting and filleting fish
  • tubing squid
  • tailing crustaceans
  • shucking, heat shocking, land-based wet storage and depuration (cleansing) of bivalve molluscan shellfish (BMS).

Animal Products (Definition of Primary Processor) Notice  

What is secondary seafood processing?

Secondary processing of seafood products includes processes at any stage beyond primary processing. Examples of secondary processing include:

  • acidification, salting, brining, smoking, thermal processing, refrigeration and storage
  • extraction, drying, or blending of powders from fish or shellfish
  • adding non-animal product ingredients, such as breadcrumbs and sauces, to seafood products.

Operating under legislation

Land-based seafood processing premises that carry out primary or secondary processing must operate under one of the following:

  • the Animal Products Act 1999 using a registered risk management programme (RMP)
  • the Food Act 2014 using an audited food control plan (FCP).

Processors operating under an RMP

Almost all land-based seafood processing premises that undertake primary or secondary processing, especially for export, need to have a registered risk management programme (RMP).

Processors that need an RMP

You need to operate under an RMP if you're a:

  • primary processor whose product is intended for export
  • primary processor selling by wholesale in the New Zealand market
  • secondary processor preparing seafood for export to markets requiring official assurances (export certificates).

Learn more about managing risks for seafood processors.

Primary processors that don't need an RMP

You don't need an RMP if you:

  • sell retail and/or wholesale seafood only on the New Zealand market
  • sell retail seafood only on the New Zealand market
  • process fish bait, fish berley, chum, or ground bait.

Find out more about the exemptions and requirements for primary processors in this document prepared by MPI.

Secondary processors that don't need an RMP

An RMP is not required if you're a secondary processor that:

  • processes fish only for the New Zealand market
  • exports to countries where there is no requirement for official assurances (export certificates).

Code of practice (COP) for seafood processors

The Processing of seafood products code of practice (COP) can help you to prepare a successful RMP and manage the incidence of foodborne illnesses such as Listeriosis.

Learn more about the COP for processing seafood products:

Processors operating using a food control plan (FCP)

Depending on their circumstances, processors exempt from or not operating under an RMP must use an FCP, audited by an external expert.

Find out more about managing food safety risks:

Last reviewed:
Has this been useful? Give us your feedback