This page helps you understand the national programmes for food businesses, how the programmes work, and likely costs.


Under the new Food Act 2014 some lower-risk food businesses can operate under a National Programme level 3, 2 or 1. To find out which risk-based measure you need to operate under, visit the Ministry Primary Industries (MPI) website and use the 'Where do I fit' tool.


Some examples of National Programme Businesses:

  • National Programme Level 3:
    • Brewers & manufacturers of non-alcoholic beverages,
    • Retailers that handle food but do not prepare or manufacture food, eg reheat pies, scoop icecream
    • Manufacturers of olive oil.
  • National Programme Level 2:
    • Early Childcare Centres preparing meals
    • Bakeries preparing bread or bread products only,
    • Manufacturers of confectionery,
    • Manufacturers of condiments,
    • Retailers of packaged chilled or frozen food.
  • National Programme Level 1:
    • Retailers hot beverages and shelf-stable packaged food,
    • Retailers of iceblocks,
    • Producers of horticultural food,
    • Transporters and distributors of food.

What does Operating Under a National Programme Require?

To operate under a National Programme you need to be producing safe food and keeping some records. There is guidance on what you need to do and what records to keep on the Ministry Primary Industries website. Your business needs to be registered by the Council and receive verifications from a private verification company. 

Applying for Registration of a National Programme

If you start a new business or take over a business, you need to apply to register a National Programme before you start operating. If you are an existing business you will need to transition to a National Programme by the deadline for your sector. Visit the MPI website to view the transition timetable. The deadline to register is either 31 March 2018 or 30 November 2018 depending on which sector you are in.  The application form and scope of operations form to register is below. Registration lasts for two years. There is a fee to register:

Verification of National Programmes

Verification is another name for an inspection or audit. A new business will need to be verified within one month of the first registration. An existing business transitioning to the new Act will need to be verified within 6 or 12 months of the registration certificate being issued. After that verifications are required every two-to-three years if the verification outcome is acceptable. If the verification outcome is unacceptable you will need to be verified more frequently up to every three months.

Currently this Council is not providing a verification service for businesses on National Programmes. Therefore you will need to find a private verifier and arrange to have verifications from them. They will charge you seperately and you can cask for a quote. You will need to specify who your verifier is when you register your business. You can find a list of approved verifiers on the MPI website under Steps for National Programme. 

Opting to Operate Under a Food Control Plan

There is an option for some businesses that could register a National Programme, to opt up to a higher risk based measure and use a template Food Control Plan.

This option is only available for businesses that fit the scope of the template Food Control Plan, for example by heating pies, scooping icecream or early childcare centres preparing food. 

If you opt to register a template Food Control Plan instead of a National Programme, Council's Environmental Health Officers can undertake your verifications. The current Council fee for verifications and follow up work is $150 per hour. 

To opt up you would need to complete the documents for a Food Control Plan and register the plan with the Council.