Running A Food Business


The Food Act 2014 requires businesses selling food to be registered and verified (audited) to ensure that food sold is safe and suitable.  Most food businesses operating within the Timaru, Mackenzie and Waimate District areas can register with the Timaru District Council under a Food Control Plan or a National Programme.  Larger or more specialised businesses may instead need to register with New Zealand Food Safety (MPI).

It is recommended that you discuss your business plans with Environmental Health staff to determine who you need to register with and under what programme.

Food Control Plans

Cafes, Restaurants, Caterers, Home Bakers, food trucks and takeaway shops are examples of businesses who operate with a Food Control Plan.  Food control plan businesses are verified (audited) by council Environmental Health staff.

National Programmes

Coffee Carts, service stations, brewers and horticultural wholesalers are examples of businesses registered with a National Programme.  National Programme businesses are verified (audited) by their chosen third party verification agency (not council staff).

If you are not sure if your business will operate with a Food Control Plan or a National Programme you can use the My Food Rules tool to help you work it out.

You can also discuss the options with council Environmental Health staff:

03 687 7200

Before starting your new food business, there are other things you may need to consider:

Will you need any other licences, permits or consents?

Alcohol Licensing

Building Consents

Planning/Resource Consents

Public Place Trading

Street Dining

Trade Waste

Does your premise/site/location and facilities meet the requirements of the Food Regulations 2015?

Is your Water Supply suitable?  

Are you a mobile food business that will operate across district boundaries?

See ‘Operating a Mobile Food Business

This notebook provides help on starting your food business and meeting food safety rules:

Food Business Registration

To register your food business, complete the relevant form below and submit to the Timaru District Council or email directly to

If you are registering with a National Programme or are intending to trade across the district boundaries (FCP), you will also need to submit a confirmation letter from your chosen third party verifier.

Once your registration is submitted our team will send out an invoice (via email) to be paid before you start operating.  Once paid, you will receive your Notice of Registration and you can begin to sell food.


For all food businesses, the first verification happens within six weeks after you are registered and operating your business.

The verifier will check that your food business is following the appropriate rules to ensure the food sold is safe and suitable to eat.

How often you are checked will depend on how successfully you are managing food safety.  If you successfully implement good food safety systems, you will be verified less often resulting in fees being charged less often.

Template Food Control Plan businesses (operating solely within the boundaries of the Timaru, Waimate and Mackenzie districts) are verified by council verifiers.

National Programme businesses and template FCP mobile cross boundary businesses are verified by third party verifiers.  Businesses need to find a verifier before registering with the council.  You will need to include a confirmation letter from your confirmed verifier, with your registration application.

Find a third party food verifier on the  NZFS Register here.

How long does a verification take guide from MPI PDF and what are the likely costs:

Third party verifiers and councils set their own fees.  These fees can vary so it is recommended that you get some quotes before choosing a verifier.

See council fees here:

Timaru District

Waimate District

Mackenzie District

Renewal of Registration

Food businesses are required to renew their registration by paying the prescribed fee before the registration expiry date.  Council will send a reminder prior to the expiry.  Please ensure you notify council of any changes to your contact details.

Food Control Plan businesses renew annually whilst National Programme businesses renew every two years.

Last updated: 18 Jul 2024