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September 3, 2021

Food Business Guidance for Operating Under Covid-19 Alert Level 3

Guidance for Food Businesses Operating Under COVID-19 Alert Level 3 

As most of New Zealand has moved to COVID-19 Alert Level 3 this week, to help businesses operating under the Food Act 2014 get back up and running, New Zealand Food Safety has updated guidance about operating safely. It’s also easy to add on key operations like delivery, transport, and making chilled/frozen food – and New Zealand Food Safety has waived some charges that would usually apply.

Food Act businesses must continue to meet the rules in their Food Control Plans or National Programmes, as well as meet the rules in the COVID-19 guidance for businesses.

Safe Practice requirements 

The first step is for the owner/manager to check if their business can operate at Alert Level 3 – by visiting the Government’s COVID-19 website.  

Under Alert Level 3, all food businesses allowed to operate should follow COVID-19 guidance that sets out how to operate safely. For New Zealand food service, retail and manufacturing businesses, operating under the Food Act, there is guidance to help keep their customers and staff safe: COVID-19 Alert Level 3 Safe Practice Guidance for Food Service, Retail & Manufacturing Businesses.

Owners/managers will be asked to show how they’ve implemented these procedures if a COVID-19 Safe Practice Check is undertaken at their business.

Making changes to a business during COVID-19 Alert Level 3

The COVID-19 Alert Level 3 requirements mean food businesses that want to start operating will only be able to do so if offering takeaway, contactless pick-up and delivery options. Many businesses will not have takeaway or delivery services within their current Food Control Plan or National Programme.

To allow businesses an option to re-open, there are packs of pre-evaluated procedures on this Ministry for Primary Industries’ web page Making changes to a food business in Alert Level 3 that can be added to a food business’s plan or programme during COVID-19 Alert Levels. These packs can be added at no registration cost and without requiring verification. These packs include procedures for:

  • takeaway and pick up;
  • delivery;
  • meal kits and repacking bulk food; 
  • preparing chilled and frozen meals; and
  • making jams, chutneys and sauces.

Food businesses wanting to extend their scope to re-open, can download a pack from this web page, attach it to their Plan or Programme, and then they must notify their Registration Authority (New Zealand Food Safety or local council). 

There is an extra step for businesses that want to add the pack to prepare chilled and frozen meals. Because the food safety risks are greater for these processes, these businesses need an off-site Scope Change Check interview within five (5) working days of operating to check they are managing the associated food safety risks. There is no charge to the business for this Check.

Registration renewal & verification during COVID-19

There are measures in place for Registration Authorities to legally defer registrations during the COVID-19 response. Owners/managers are asked to contact their Registration Authority if their registration renewal has been affected.

If a business is due for its food safety verification during COVID-19 Alert Levels, there is a Remote Check system of Food Act businesses as an interim measure until on-site verifications can resume. This means that Food Act verifiers can complete scheduled verifications with food businesses off-site, via a phone call or using online technology such as Skype, Zoom, Teams or another live-steaming app both parties can access.

For more information

For latest updates for food businesses under COVID-19, please refer to: