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Food licensing

Most businesses selling food in Buller need to register. Food businesses have a responsibility to ensure that food is safe and suitable to eat.

Food safety and licensing food premises

Those working in the food industry have a responsibility to ensure that food is safe and suitable to eat.

Most businesses selling food in Buller need to register. If you are planning to or are running a food business, you can find out how the rules apply to your food business by using an online tool ‘My Food Rules‘ developed by the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI).

Food safety measures promote food safety by focusing on the processes of food production, not the premises where food is made. For example, someone who makes and sells food from a food truck must follow the same rules as someone who makes and sells food at a restaurant.  

Legal obligations for food businesses

The Food Act 2014 helps make sure that food sold throughout New Zealand is safe. If you are operating a food business, you need to tell Buller District Council or Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) exactly what your business does.

The Act came into force on 1 March 2016. It places a responsibility on food business operators to ensure that the food they sell is safe and suitable to eat.

In summary safe and suitable means that:

  • ‘Safe food’ won’t make people sick
  • ‘Suitable’ food’ meets compositional, labelling and identification requirements and is in the right condition for its intended use.

Most food businesses need to register.

There are different types of registration depending on the type of food you sell. You can find out what food plan apply to your food business by using an online tool ‘My Food Rules‘ developed by the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI).

The Food Advisor Hub also contains good information for those wanting to start, grow, change, or manage a new food business.


There are some exemptions such as fundraising or community groups.

The Food Act 2014 allows a person or a group to trade in food for the sole purpose of raising money for a charitable, benevolent, philanthropic, or cultural purpose for up to 20 occasions in any calendar year. Food for sale needs to be safe and suitable and all food must be sourced from registered food premises.

Once you have worked out what type of registration you need, you will need to prepare all your food safety documentation and prepare your premises or food van.

Once you have established whether registration is required or not, you will need to prepare your premises for safe food production. The rules differ according to the type of venue – a restaurant, café or food truck for example.

A restaurant or café needs to provide facilities such as hot and cold running water, sinks, a handwash basin, cleanable work surfaces, walls and floors, and equipment such as fridges and freezers for the safe storage of food. A staff toilet is required, and customer toilets.

Submitting a floor plan with your application will help establish if the venue meets all the requirements.

A mobile food van needs to meet the same standard as a normal kitchen, but on a smaller scale. You still need hot and cold running water, a sink and handwash basin, clean surfaces, and all the equipment to make safe food such as fridges or freezers.

Businesses that are higher risk, from a food safety point of view, will operate under more stringent food safety requirements and checks than lower-risk food businesses. Food safety measures included under the Act are:

Food control plans are written plans for managing food safety on a day-to-day basis.

National programmes are a set of food safety rules for medium and low-risk businesses. If you're under a national programme, you don't need a written plan, but must register, meet food safety standards, keep some records, and get checked.

There are three levels of National Programmes, which are based on the food safety risk of the activities a business does. MPI has developed guidance documents below to help manage food safety risks.

Once you have established what programme your food business fits into you will need to fill out the corresponding scope of operation and application forms.

The scope of operations includes key information about your food business like what products you make, where you source your products, how you process products, and how you sell your products.

The application form is the final step in getting your food business started and you need to fill out the application for the program that applies to you.

If your food business comes under a National Programme you will need to find a private verifier to audit your business. You can choose a private company from the register on the NZ Food Safety website. They will give you a letter to submit with your application.   

Role of Council

Although, MPI has oversight over food regulation, Buller District Council’s role is to register businesses and keep records of things like the types of food being sold, and where and how foods are being processed.

For more information, contact Council at: 

 Useful information