National Programmes

If you make and sell lower-risk foods, you may need to operate under one of three national programmes. The information below will help you to discover the requirements under the Food Act 2014.

What is a national programme?

Lower and medium risk businesses follow a national programme. This means they don't need to use written food control plans, but must register the business, meet food safety standards, keep some records, and get checked.

Businesses that fit under national programmes

The Food Act 2014 recognises that each business is different depending on the food safety risk of the activities they do (e.g. a corner dairy owner who reheats meat pies won't be treated in the same way as the meat pie manufacturer).  Businesses working under a national programme will have to follow requirements for producing safe food that will be set out in regulations.

You will also have to:

  • Register your business with the Tararua District Council; and
  • have periodic checks (verification) to make sure you are producing safe and suitable food.

New businesses will need to comply from 1 March 2016. Some existing food businesses will start to transition to the new rules from that date, but others will not start until 2018. The main change for businesses on a national programme will be the requirement to keep records to ensure that foods are manufactured, handled and stored in a safe and suitable manner. Business that operate a national programme will be required to renew their registration on a bi-annual basis (every second year).

Three levels of national programmes

There are three levels of national programmes, which are based on the food safety risk of the activities a business does:

  • Level 1 – lower risk 
  • Level 2 – medium risk
  • Level 3 – higher risk

National Programme Level 1 (lower risk)

Businesses under National Programme 1 have the lowest level of regulation under the Food Act 2014.

The businesses working under National Programme 1 include:

  • retailers of hot beverages and shelf-stable manufacturer-packaged foods only;
  • extractors and packers of honey;
  • manufacturers of sugar or related products;
  • transporters or distributors of food products;
  • producers of horticultural food and horticultural packing operations (packhouses); and
  • retailers of manufacturer-packaged ice cream and iced confectionery.

Follow the step-by-step guide for National Programme 1

National Programme Level 2 (medium risk)

National Programme 2 will apply to businesses such as:

  • bakeries that prepare or manufacture bread or bread-derived products only;
  • food services to pre-school children (including children under 5 years) in a centre-based setting;
  • manufacturers of jams, chips, confectionery, sauces and spreads; and
  • retailers of manufacturer-packaged chilled and frozen food (excluding ice cream and iced confectionery).

Businesses under National Programme 2 will be checked at least every three years. Businesses consistently performing well will be checked less often than businesses that are not consistently meeting requirements.

Follow the step-by-step guide for National Programme 2

National Programme Level 3 (higher risk)

National Programme 3 will apply to businesses such as:

  • retailers that handle food (but do not prepare or manufacture food);
  • brewers and distillers; and
  • food additive manufacturers.

Follow the step-by-step guide for National Programme 3