• Anna Drumm

Food Compliance Myth Busting - Understanding your Eatsafe Certificate

Yay! You made it – you have a working Food Control Plan, you are fully registered with the Council and you have even been issued with an A grade from your verifier which you are proudly displaying for your customers to see.

That’s it. All done. Forget about it.

Unfortunately, not quite.

In Auckland all food businesses are required to display their Eatsafe certificate, or their food grade, in a prominent location onsite. This is a great system, particularly for the consumer. However, it can become confusing when trying to figure out what is due and when.

As a general rule we send out reminders to our clients letting them know when their registration is about to expire and that they need to complete their re-registration with the Council. This reminder is often met with surprise;

“What do you mean? I have only just had my verification”

“My Eatsafe certificate is good for another year”

“But I already did this, why do I have to do it again?”

This is where it can get a little confusing. Each food business in New Zealand actually has two different dates they are working with;

a) The registration date: This comes first. This is the date that the Council or MPI issue you with a food license and is NOT displayed on your Eatsafe certificate. This must be renewed either annually or biannually through your Council or MPI, and

b) The verification date: This is the date you are issued with your food grade by either the Council’s verifier or an independent verifier. Your first verification always takes place AFTER your registration has already been accepted.

The date on your Eatsafe certificate, or your food grading certificate, is not the same date as your registration date. In fact, the two things work on completely different timetables.

Clear as mud?

Your registration should be seen much like a car registration, it is simply the official record that you are a legal and compliant food business. The fee charged by the Council or MPI for this generally relates to the administration involved with processing your application rather than time. Unfortunately, this means it is rare to see a Council refund a business a portion of their registration fees if they stop trading before the full 12 months is up.

Your verification is similar to a cars Warrant of Fitness. This is when your business is checked to ensure it is compliant and safe. And just like a WOF, the frequency of your verification will depend on the function of your business. Also, like a WOF, you cannot have a verification without a current registration.

Below is an example of the Eatsafe certificate that is issued by Auckland Council to Auckland food businesses.

Here are a few more things about your registration and verification that you may not be aware of.

Your registration cannot be transferred if you sell your business

If you sell your food business to a completely different Company or sole trader it generally means your registration will be cancelled and the new Company or sole trader will be required to apply for a completely new registration. They will also need to be verified within 6 weeks of having their registration accepted.

However, if you sell the legal Company it is considered a change of ownership. In this case you can apply for a change of ownership and the original registration can be transferred.

As mentioned earlier it is rare for a business that is sold to be refunded the unused portion of their registration. This is because the fees charged by the Councils and MPI are based on processing time at the point of submitting the application and not the on length of time a business operates.

The Eatsafe Certificate is only in Auckland

This often comes as a surprise to Aucklanders, particularly when they visit another part of the country. Although all Councils across the country have their own grading systems, and many of them are very very similar, the Eatsafe grading certificate is such a prominent fixture of the Auckland food scene that it is hard to believe it is not the same everywhere.

But alas it is not. The Eatsafe grading certificate we see in all Auckland restaurants, bakeries, cafes, butcheries, takeaways and dairies is only issued by Auckland Council to Auckland businesses.

Not all Auckland food businesses will receive an Eatsafe certificate

Again, due to the prominent nature of the Eatsafe certificates in Auckland food businesses, this can come as a bit of a shock to business owners and consumers alike.

The Eatsafe certificate is only issued to businesses that are verified by the Auckland Council. Although all businesses that fall under a Template FCP will be verified by Auckland Council any business that is either a National Programme or a Custom FCP may need an independent verifier instead. An independent verifier will still issue a food grade, however, it will not look like the Eatsafe certificate. It will still be perfectly valid but will look different.

If you would like to discuss anything in this article or anything else to do with your food business please do not hesitate to get in touch! You can contact me directly on or 0800 FOR FCP.

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