Primary processors

This page gives you an overview of your responsibilities as a primary processor of poultry.

You are a primary processor if you slaughter and dress poultry.

Key legislation for primary processors

If you are a primary processor, you must comply with:

  • the Animal Products Act 1999, and
  • the Food Act 2014, and
  • legislation made under these Acts ('subordinate legislation').

You can find explanations of these Acts and lists of their subordinate legislation in the link below:

New Zealand food legislation

Operating under the Food Act

Rules for food businesses are changing – we're moving from the Food Act 1981 to the Food Act 2014. From 1 March 2016, all new businesses must operate under the Food Act.

Existing businesses (registered under the Food Act 1981 or Food Hygiene Regulations 1974 before 29 February 2016) will shift to the new Act between 2016 and 2019. Check the timetable to find out when your type of business has to transition.

Legislation made under the Animal Products Act includes:

Legislation made under the Food Act includes the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code ('the Code')

Food Standards Australia New Zealand (External website)

The purpose of this legislation is to help ensure you produce safe and suitable food.

What primary processors must do

As a poultry primary processor, you must:

  • operate under a Risk Management Programme (RMP), registered with MPI
  • comply with the Human Consumption Specifications (including when building or altering your premises)
  • carry out ante- and post-mortem examination of your birds
  • carry out sampling at processing for Campylobacter, E coli and Salmonella in accordance with the National Microbial Database (NMD) (currently broilers only, as defined in the NMD Specifications)
  • arrange regular visits by an independent verification agency.

RMPs are dealt with on the 'RMPs for poultry' page, in the menu to the left.

Besides RMPs, there are other food safety requirements you need to follow, if you primary process poultry or poultry products.

All Specifications mentioned below are made under the Animal Products Act.

Human Consumption Specifications

If you are processing food destined for human consumption, you must meet the minimum requirements in the Human Consumption Specifications.

See the Administration Consolidation (Version 3). Sections 40, 41, 70 and 71 are particularly relevant to the poultry industry. Note you'll also need to comply with the general requirements at the front of the document.

Animal Products (Specifications of Products Intended for Human Consumption Specification) Notice 2013

You will need to also be familiar with the amendment Notices, which capture small changes or revisions to the original Human Consumption Specifications.

From time to time, a new Administration Consolidation document will be made, which brings together all the Amendments to date.

Building or altering your premises

If you are planning to build or alter premises, first check New Zealand building legislation to ensure your building will meet the requirements for a primary processing facility. Talk to your local council to find out what the requirements are.

The Human Consumption Specifications set out the minimum additional requirements for premises used for animal product processing. See the Administration Consolidation (Version 3), Part 1.

Animal Products (Specifications for Products Intended For Human Consumption) Notice 2013

If you're exporting, you must also meet the requirements in the Industry Standard 2 – Design and Construction manual (IS2). This is an old meat manual that gives practical guidance to meet these requirements. If you don't export, you can use this as guidance, but it is not mandatory.

Industry Standard 2 was written for red meat premises. It has been amended to make it suitable for poultry, in Technical Directive TD 02/055.

Industry Standard 2 – Design and construction

TD 02/055 – Poultry – Amendments to Industry Standard 2 (Construction and Design)

If you change the physical location or layout of your premises, you may need to update your RMP. See the 'Risk Management Programmes for poultry' page in this section. (Find this in the menu to the left).

Ante- and Post-mortem Examination Notice

If you are processing food destined for human or animal consumption, you must also meet the minimum requirements in the Ante- and Post-mortem Examination Notice below.

This covers examination of your birds for diseases, before and after slaughter.

Animal Products (Specifications for the Ante-mortem And Post-mortem Examination of Poultry Intended for Human or Animal Consumption) Notice 2005

National Microbiological Database (NMD)

If you are a primary processor of broilers, you must participate in the NMD testing programme and supply the results to the National Microbiological Database (NMD). To find out your testing requirements, see the NMD homepage.

National microbiological database


You need to arrange regular visits by an independent verification agency. They will check that you are meeting your legal requirements. Currently, only MPI's verification agency is recognised to do this for the poultry sector.

Animal products excluding dairy – Recognised verification agencies

Animal products excluding dairy – Recognised persons – Verifiers

Read more about MPI's verification agency below.

MPI Verification Animal and Food Products

Read more about verification processes and frequencies in the document below.

Verification 2005 Statement of Policy