How do MPI chemical approvals work for NZ food factories?

January 2024

Firstly, let’s look at what areas of food processing chemicals MPI covers and what they don’t 

When it comes to cleaning and sanitising chemicals, the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) regulate these ‘maintenance compounds’ for both exporters and local market food producers in NZ that are processing ‘animal products’.   

To clarify this, if you process plant-based foods such as vegetables, you still need to comply with all aspects of the Food Act 2014 – as do all food manufacturers and traders in NZ – it just means that you are free to use cleaners and sanitisers that are not ‘approved maintenance compounds’ stipulated by MPI for animal product processors. 

Based on what we have stated above, the rest of this article applies to ‘animal product’ processors only and those can be split into two categories: 

  1. Maintenance compounds used in processing meat, seafood, and other non-dairy animal products 
  2. Maintenance compounds used in dairy processing

MPI Non-dairy approvals 

One of the common misconceptions we encounter around MPI approvals is that ‘MPI Non-dairy approval’ means the product is not approved for use in dairy – it does not mean that at all.  What a non-dairy approval relates to is all animal products that are not dairy based, so let’s say for example you are a chicken processor – all the maintenance compound approvals you will be interested in will be in the non-dairy approval list.  If, on the other hand you process yoghurt which is a dairy product, you will only be interested in the MPI dairy approved list.   

A product may very easily be on both lists which means that it’s fine to use in all animal product processing.  

When a compound is approved in this category, it will be given an approval code.  This code outlines the conditions that must be adhered to when using the compound – you can check out the conditions of each code on this list here.  It’s important that you abide by these conditions when using any specific product – it does not mean that because a product is approved, that you are free to use it in your processing facility in any way you want to. 

One important point to note is that very few sanitisers can be used as a true ‘no-rinse’ sanitiser for food contact surfaces – this is a question we get regularly and there are a lot of misconceptions in the industry regarding this type of product.  A C43 sanitiser can only be treated as no-rinse when you are processing fish and the only other option as a no-rinse sanitiser for surfaces is a C42 rated product (or a C44 product, but only when sanitising quality control equipment).

Another point to be aware of is that some compounds can be also used as Processing Aids during the manufacture of foods, but this is administered under different legislation that is outside the scope of MPI, as all Processing Aids come under the domain of FSANZ which is the trans-Tasman Food Standards Authority.  Separate to this again are the individual legislation of different countries that food may be exported to from NZ, who all have their own restrictions, allowances and requirements.  If you think this is starting to sound like a bit of a minefield, you are correct!  We would be happy to help guide you through this for your own situation for the products we deal in. 

MPI Dairy approvals 

When checking a product is MPI Dairy Approved, you can click on this link to download a spreadsheet of all current approved products.  On the spreadsheet there are two columns –  Approved for use in farm dairies and Approved for use in dairy processing (this was formerly called “Recognised”).Approval Conditions and Recognition Conditions. A product may have both or just one of these.  Make sure you are clear about the conditions of use that are stated for each product as you must abide by these to be allowed to use the product in your facility. 

One point to note here is that the MPI website states the following: ‘Maintenance compounds used in dairy processing operations that are not farm dairy milking plants don’t have to be approved or recognised. If you choose to use approved or recognised compounds, MPI will clearly outline how they can be used. This helps dairy RMP operators, evaluators, and verifiers.’  This means that if you are in this category, the risk is for you to manage – in reality this is why most other dairy processors prefer to use assessed or recognised products, as the evaluation has been done by MPI and you don’t need to take this risk yourself. 

Did you know that you can find the MPI approval for all our chemicals in the resources tab on the product page of our website? You can find the tab underneath the image (also has SDS and other relevant documents).

In summary, the process is easy enough to follow if you are clear about which approval relates to your situation and what the conditions of use are.  

Do you have any other questions around which product is best for you in your application?  Simply enter a few details in the form below and one of our Solutions Team will be straight back in touch with you.