Food Safety

Cabinet food image

All businesses used for the manufacture, preparation, service, packing or storage of food for sale to the public must be registered with the local authority or Ministry for Primary Industries as following a National Programme or a Food Control Plan under the Food Act 2014.

All food businesses are subject to timely audit and renewal of registration. The Ministry for Primary Industries website features this useful tool to help you find out what rules apply to you, and where you fit.

Registering your food business

There are two options: 

Registration with Whanganui District Council under the Food Act 2014

Your business must comply with the risk based measure components of the Food Act 2014.
You are required to fill in an application form for either:

  1. registration of a new food business prior to opening or after purchasing an existing food business
  2. transfer of a license into your name after purchasing a National Programme business. 

For existing food control plan food businesses, if the person responsible for the management of the food control plan remains the same and the new owners do not make any changes to the running of the business, the licence may be transferred.

The food business licensing period runs from anniversary to anniversary. The fee is dependent on the type of risk based measure programme required to be followed, and the time taken to carry out audits.

Registration with the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) under the Food Act 2014

Once registered with MPI the food business will be audited by MPI. 

Registration forms and information

You can register your food control plan or national programme with us and we will check it for you. You can use this useful tool (my food rules) to find out which scope of operations form you need to fill out.

If you wish to make a change to the registration of an existing food business, please complete this form and contact the council's environmental health team by calling 06 349 0001.

Food control plans

Any business that sells high risk food is required to have a food control plan. 

There are two types of food control plans. Most businesses use template food control plans from templates provided by the Ministry for Primary Industries.

Template food control plans

National programmes

Businesses making or selling lower-risk foods are more likely to register under a national programme.

You can register your national programme with us, and we can verify:

  • businesses that handle food, but do not prepare or manufacture food, e.g. dairies, service stations, or eating establishments that reheat food only
  • bakeries that prepare or manufacture bread or bread products only
  • food services provided to pre-school children, including children under five
  • retailers of chilled or frozen food (excluding ice cream, iced confectionery, and iced desserts)
  • retailers of hot beverages and manufacturer-packaged foods, e.g. coffee carts
  • retailers of manufacturer-packaged ice cream or iced confectionery, e.g. mobile food vehicles selling ice-cream or iced confectionery

View the approved list of other verifiers on the MPI website. You must include your verifier's details on your application for registration form.

If you have a national programme business, national programme information can be found here, including guidance documents for this type of business.


Under the Food Act 2014 some activities do not need to be registered. Common cases include: 

Apply for a food stall online

It is not mandatory to complete this form.

Structural requirements

The Food Act 2014 requires that premises are designed and constructed appropriately, so they can be used to prepare and/or serve food that is safe and suitable. The premises, place, facilities, appliances, and essential services (such as water, gas, lighting etc) need to be readily cleanable and fit for purpose.

Please contact the environmental health team before setting up your food business. Arrangements can be made for an officer to visit your premises during its construction to ensure it is set up correctly.

Planning approval under the Resource Management Act

Advise a planner about the location and type of business you propose to ensure that you can set up a food business in your chosen area. Some areas of the city are zoned to prevent commercial activity in that area. Find out if there are any parking or other planning requirements for your area. Lighting, noise, and air extraction systems may affect neighbouring premises. It is essential you find out the requirements for these so you do not cause a nuisance to your neighbours.

Building consent

If you are building new premises, or altering / fitting out an existing building, you may require a building consent. You will need to speak to a building support officer about the submission of an accurate plan and any other information that may be required. You will need to state clearly the type of operation you intend and include plans and information detailing:

  • the designation of all rooms and specific areas
  • layout of appliances and fittings, including the position of work benches, tables, shelves, cupboards, sinks, wash basins, cooking equipment, refrigerators and freezers, lockers and dishwashers (if required)
  • type and location of artificial lighting and ventilation
  • location on yard areas, the refuse disposal area, changing rooms and customer service areas
  • an outline of the construction material and surface finishes that you propose
  • ensure that you attach a preliminary form for the proposed food premises with your building consent application.

Plumbing and drainage

If you are installing toilets, sinks or wash basins you may need a building consent for the plumbing and drainage work.

Trade waste requirement

Check with the council's trade waste officer regarding trade waste requirements. If a grease trap is required, it can be installed outside, or internally.

Alcohol licensing

If you intend to apply for an alcohol licence you should contact the District Licensing Agency at an early stage to find out your obligations under the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012. Check the alcohol licensing page for more information.

Food business grading

With the introduction of the Food Act 2014, the food grading system is being phased out. From 1 January 2019, no grading certificates have been issued by Whanganui District Council. Food businesses are now verified (audited). For more information please contact the council's environmental health team by calling 06 349 0001.

Making a complaint about a food business

If you wish to make a complaint about the hygiene practices, cleanliness or standards in a food business, please contact the environmental health team by calling 06 349 0001.

Questions and answers for food business operators

What does it cost food business owners?

The registration fee will continue to be set according to the level of compliance with the Food Act 2014.

What if I am not happy with my verification?

If you have a concern about our service, have a complaint or compliment or you wish to dispute your verification, please contact us at 06 349 0001. Verification disputes should be made in writing within 15 working days of receiving your verification report. 

What about mobile food shops, stalls and new businesses?

Mobile food shops, food stalls, and new businesses must be registered. If you have further questions, please contact us at or call us at 06 349 0001.

Food safety

Our environmental health team regularly audits the district's food businesses to ensure they follow safe and suitable food preparation and handling practices. They also provide food safety advice. Any infectious diseases are officially notified and thoroughly investigated to find the source of infection and measures put in place to prevent recurrences.

We use a proven evaluation method to assess the state and maintenance of the premises, food handling and storage practices, cleanliness and staff training.

Some simple habits any food operator can establish to improve food safety include:

  • Using separate chopping boards for raw and cooked foods and adequately cleaning them to prevent cross contamination.
  • Sick staff are excluded from the food business.
  • Staff are trained in food hygiene, for example effective hand washing.
  • Properly covering and date marking food in fridges to prevent contamination; for example, raw meat juices spilling onto cold meats, cheese and vegetables.
  • Holding hot food above 60 degrees celsius, and chilled foods below 5 degrees celsius.
  • Completing a food control plan and maintaining diary records.