Animal Products Act requirements

If you are an egg producer, or a secondary processor exporting with an official assurance, these are the requirements you must meet under the Animal Products Act 1999 (APA). See the other pages in this Eggs section for requirements under other Acts.

Risk Management Programmes (RMPs) for eggs

The APA requires most primary processors of eggs to have a registered and independently verified Risk Management Programme (RMP) before trading any eggs.

Primary processing includes harvesting, ‘candling’, grading and packing whole shell eggs. ‘Candling’ is the assessment of eggs for freshness, fertility, or defects by use of light, electronic means, or any other commercially accepted means. In practical terms, this means that the RMP must apply from the layer farm (where the harvesting occurs) through to the packhouse (where the candling occurs).

Secondary processors (those who break eggs and make egg products) who require official assurances for export are also required to have an RMP. Secondary processors may choose to operate under an RMP rather than under a registered Food Control Plan under the Food Act 2014.

Purpose of RMPs

An RMP covers good operating practice and manages the following hazards and other risk factors:

  • hazards to human health (consumers)
  • hazards to animal health (where eggs are used for petfood or animal feed)
  • risks to wholesomeness (anything that is offensive or unexpected in product of that nature)
  • risks from false or misleading labelling.

Exemption from RMP requirement

Some smaller egg producers may be eligible for an exemption from the requirement to have an RMP (clause 11F of the Animal Products (Exemptions and Inclusions) Order 2000). Note that exemption from the RMP requirement does not exempt you from any other legal requirements.

If you meet ALL of the following requirements, you qualify for this exemption:

  • produce eggs for sale for human or animal consumption from 100 female birds or fewer (all species included), AND
  • sell all eggs that are intended for human or animal consumption direct to the consumer or end user, AND
  • do not sell any eggs to any person for further sale (such as a cafe, shop or other third party).

100 female birds

All your female birds on the laying farm are counted as part of this 100, irrespective of age, location, whether or not they are currently in lay, and whether or not eggs are the main reason for keeping the birds. The only exceptions would be for female birds where it is clear their eggs never went for consumption, such as pet budgies or birds specifically grown for meat production.

If you have clearly separated rearing and laying farms then you may count only those female birds on the laying farm (so long as all birds on the rearing farm are clearly young birds not yet in lay).

If more than one egg producer shares a property (for example, a husband and wife), each would be allowed to have 100 female birds only if they could show that their operations are separate (throughout harvesting and packing). It would not be acceptable to run or house the birds together.

Selling eggs

You will not always know what people use your eggs for, but if you are selling to another business of any type, it is highly likely that the exemption will not apply. If you know that the purchaser on-sells the eggs or uses them to prepare food that is sold to someone else, then you cannot sell to that person and claim the exemption.

You must sell the eggs yourself. This is normally done at the laying farm, a Farmers' Market, or when delivering the eggs yourself to the consumer. You cannot have someone else sell your eggs for you at Farmers' Markets (or any other places) and claim the exemption.

It is up to you to be able to demonstrate that you meet the requirements for the exemption. This can be done by having a physical count of the female birds, and by having a mechanism, such as a conspicuous notice, to notify your customers that eggs are only for sale to the final consumer and are not allowed to be on-sold or used to make other foods which are then sold.

How to get your RMP

You are responsible for developing your RMP. To simplify the job, we have created a 'fill in the blanks' RMP template especially for eggs. Guidelines to help you are included.

RMP template for eggs

If you wish to write your own RMP, you may so long as all relevant legislation is met and the programme is shown to be effective. You can visit the Risk Management Programmes section of this website for step-by-step guidance and a list of consultants who have experience in developing RMPs.

Risk Management Programmes (RMPs)

Another source of useful information is the Technical Annex of a Generic Code of Practice for Egg Production, which was produced by MPI and the Egg Producers Federation several years ago.

Technical Annex, Egg Code of Practice

Evaluation of your RMP

Once you have completed your RMP, you may have to get it evaluated by a recognised evaluator.

If it is fully based on our RMP template for eggs -- that is, you have not altered the pre-written parts of the template except as recommended by MPI, then evaluation is not required. The legal basis for waiving this requirement can be found in the following document:

Waiver of the requirement to provide a copy of an independent evaluation report

If you have changed the template or written your own RMP, evaluation is required. You must hire an RMP evaluator to do this. Choose your RMP evaluator from the list below.

Animal products excluding dairy - Evaluators - Recognised persons list

Registration of your RMP

The next step is to apply for registration of the RMP using Application Form AP4 (with or without an evaluation report depending on the situation). Use Form AP49 to identify the scope of your RMP.

AP4 - Registration of RMP

AP49 - Processing categories tables

MPI will assess the application and will register the RMP if you are a ‘fit and proper’ person (mainly referring to no previous convictions for fraud, dishonesty, or mismanagement) and the RMP meets requirements.

Verification of your RMP

Once the RMP is registered, you must get it checked by a MPI-recognised verifier to ensure that the RMP has been implemented effectively. Further verification visits will be done annually, or more frequently if the results of the verification warrant it.

To arrange a recognised verifier for your business, use the following contact details:

Verification services (RMPs and FSPs) contact information

If you are unsure whether you, or someone else should have an RMP, contact us (email link at right).

Other Animal Products Act requirements for egg producers

Part 4 of the APA allows for the setting of Animal Product Standards and Specifications. These define the criteria that must be met for particular animal products to be treated as fit for their intended purpose. In the current Animal Products Notice: Specifications for Products Intended for Human Consumption, all the general sections at the front are relevant and the clauses 13.38 to 13.43 relate specifically to egg production and processing.

Animal Products Notice: Specifications for Products Intended for Human Consumption