Looking for New Zealand Starting a Home-based Food Business, step by step in 2023? Scroll down this page and follow the links. And if you bring home some fruit or vegetables and want to can, freeze, make jam, salsa or pickles, see this page for simple, reliable, illustrated canning, freezing or preserving directions. There are plenty of other related resources, click on the resources dropdown above. If you are having a hard time finding canning lids, I've used these, and they're a great price & ship in 2 days.
Although, in New Zealand, selling food prepared in a home kitchen is always illegal unless the kitchen has been inspected and approved by your local council, the task is not as impossible as it sounds. Basically, if you want to operate a home-based food business, you need to meet food safety requirements as other food businesses, regardless of the size of your business or how often you sell food.
New Zealand has national (federal), provincial (state) and local (council) regulations.
Food safety officers can inspect home businesses to make sure these requirements are being met.
We've cobbled this together from all of the government sources and practical experience that we could. If you encounter anything different please let us know!
A good starting point is the New Zealand government guidance document, The notebook, to find out what food rules apply to a new business, how to put together a food control plan or national programme, find a verifier, and get registered.
The notebook - for businesses making and selling food [PDF, 916 KB]
Summary guidance about how to start a food business:
Do you want to make and sell food? [PDF, 346 KB]
Neither is true. Food companies conduct many trials and lab tests, examining the properties of the food product, including bacterial counts, pH, water content, etc. to determine that each recipe, process and packaging yields a shelf-stable product that will be safe for a consumer to eat months later. At home, you do not have the ability to perform this type of testing. You MUST stick to recipes, equipment and procedures that have been tested. All of the recipes here have been tested (by universities and government labs).
Commercial food companies often have equipment that can reach temperatures and pressures that home equipment cannot. Or they have unique packaging equipment that makes the finished product shelf stable. The point is, producing a safe food product takes:
Some examples of foods that cannot be safely made and packaged at home include bottled pumpkin butter and most bottled dairy/egg products. Additional controls and procedures are required for potentially hazardous foods (those which require specific temperature, pH or water content) to remain safe to eat.
Verify your kitchen meets the food design requirements. Your premises should be designed and fitted out to handle food safely and avoid contamination.
Make sure you have:
Check with your local council for advice and to make sure you are set up correctly.
In any area of New Zealand, you need to follow the national rules for your type of food business. If you grow, manufacture, import, store,
transport, or sell food or beverage products, you need to meet certain food safety requirements. The way you trade in food determines the
legislation you need to follow. You will likely operate under the Food Act, but possible also the Wine Act, Animal Products Act, or Agricultural
Compounds and Veterinary Medicines Acts.
The My food rules tool will help you find which Act you need to operate under, and the plan or programme you need to use.
Under the Food Act 2014, you will need to follow a food control plan or national programme for making and selling food. The plan or programme you
need to complete depends on the rules you need to follow. You will find these in Step 1.
You will need make sure everyone in your business follows the plan or programme.
Each state and territory has its own specific requirements and guidance. Be sure to check those applicable in your area:
In a home-based food business, it is possible that you could need other licences you may need as well as a food registration
Now that you've knocked out the regulatory, design and food issues that could make it impossible or impractical to have a home-based food business, you next need to register your business before you start selling anything. All food businesses need to be registered before you start making and selling food. There are 2 options for registering: either with MPI or with your local council.
If you are operating under a national programme or a custom food control plan, you will need to contact a verifier before you register, and get a letter from them to include with your application.
All food businesses need to get checked to make sure they are selling safe food. This is called 'verification'. You will be checked by someone
from your local council or an independent verifier. How often you get checked will depend on whether you are a high or low risk business. It
will also depend on how well you manage food safety. Those who are doing well, will be checked less frequently. They will check to make sure
you are following good safety practices and keeping records. The focus will not be on your kitchen looking a certain way, but on making sure you are
doing the most important things to keep food safe.
Independent verifiers and local councils set their own fees. You should get some quotes to find out how much it will cost.
It's not as much as it seems, but you obviously need to know how to prepare food safely in accordance with the law if you want to sell it!
After this, you should be ready to get your business going! Below are more guides, resources, best practices and recommendations to help!
Food labelling requirements are set out in the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code.
The national food standards body (FSANZ) provides information to help consumers to read a food label and understand the food labelling requirements. They provide information on a range of topics, including:
Label buster was created to help guide businesses on their labelling requirements.
Food labels may also require other components, including:
Beyond the requirements, common sense, good practices and reducing liability suggests you should do the following.
It's best to use a pH meter, properly calibrated on the day
used. I use this one, which is reliable and inexpensive.
And this pH meter is really good, but isn't always available.
Short-range paper pH test strips, commonly known as litmus paper, may be used instead, if the product normally has a pH of 4.0 or lower and the paper's range includes a pH of 4.6.
Keep a written record of every batch of product made for sale, including:
Although inspections are not required, you should consider doing the following:
Most of these are from Australia... but they're still helpful!
most recent version of
the Ball Blue Book