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#28 Becoming a Small-Scale Food Processor

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Basic Standards for Home and Commercial Kitchens, and Small Scale Food Processing Facilities

Information prepared by Olga Padilla-Zakour, Director of the NYS Food Venture Center at Cornell University (http://necfe.foodscience.cornell.edu/) – for educational purposes only – please contact pertinent regulatory agencies for further detail.

The Federal government, individual states, cities and municipalities govern the operation of food processing facilities whether home kitchens or commercial facilities. Regulations differ from state to state and are determined by the type of food product being prepared and the processing methods used.  When considering starting up a home or commercial kitchen, it is important to research which agencies regulate licensing of the product, inspection of the facility, foods allowed and not allowed to be produced in each facility, local zoning laws governing the use of the building, and building codes.

Foods that are regulated and require a Processing License in NY – Article 20-C License

This regulation applies to anything that is altered by baking, canning, preserving, freezing, dehydrating, juicing, cider making, pickling, brining, bottling, packaging, repackaging, pressing, waxing, heating or cooking, smoking, roasting, or manufacturing.  Requirements vary depending on product.  A scheduled process must be developed which outlines recipe testing/formulation, critical control points (to avoid contamination and control hazards), processing steps, storage requirements, distribution and selling conditions/restrictions.  Assistance for developing a scheduled process is available from the NYS Food Venture Center – see information below. For a complete list of products that require an Article 20-C license visit the following website:  http://www.agriculture.ny.gov/FS/general/license.html or call 518-457-4492.

Food Safety

HACCP (Hazard Analysis & Critical Control Points) Plans are mandated by FDA regulations for certain products and processes, specifying procedures to be followed to minimize contamination and to minimize/eliminate chemical, physical and biological hazards when processing foods.  HACCP plans are required for wholesale sale (not for retail) of seafood, dairy, meat and poultry products, juice and cider processing facilities.  Other sectors of the food industry are coming into voluntary compliance.  For more information check the website – www.fda.gov/Food/FoodSafety/HazardAnalysisCriticalControlPointsHACCP/default.htm

Home Processing Exemption

New York State allows non-hazardous foods such as candy, cakes not requiring refrigeration, cookies, brownies, two-crusted fruit pies, breads and rolls, standard fruit jams and jellies, dried spices and herbs, and snack items to be produced in home kitchens. A review of processing procedures may be required for certain products before exemption is granted. Anyone seeking a Home Processing Exemption must contact the NYS Department of Agriculture & Markets to obtain this certificate (http://www.agriculture.ny.gov/FS/consumer/processor.html). An annual water test for bacteria is required for all home processors on private water supplies.  Internet sales are not allowed under this exemption.

Some types of foods may not be produced in a home kitchen, as mandated by Federal regulations.  These foods are considered potentially hazardous:

  • Low acid and acidified (pickled) foods packed in hermetically sealed containers must be registered with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
  • Meat products with more than 3% raw or 2% cooked meat ingredients in a completed product are regulated by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).
  • Vacuum packaged and any other reduced oxygen packaged products.

Zoning Regulations

Local municipal zoning and planning boards determine the scale of operations permitted in an establishment. They regulate the number of employees allowed on premises and whether a second separate kitchen facility is allowed to operate on site.  Check with local building inspectors to determine what operations can take place in the kitchen chosen for food production.  There are local building codes that govern the volume of business in a building and egress from a building, drainage issues such as back flow protection, and grease traps.  Commercial equipment must comply with fire codes, FDA and USDA requirements as appropriate.

Minimum Food Processing Facility Requirements for New York State

Procedure Home Kitchen Home Annex Commercial
Inspection Yes, Potable water required (documented) – municipal or treated well water Yes, Potable water required (documented) – municipal or treated well water Yes, Potable water required (documented) – municipal or treated well water
Licensing Non-potentially hazardous foods for wholesale market exempt from licensing by NYS Dept of Agriculture & Markets (NYSDAM) 20-C license
NYS Dept. of Agriculture &Markets
Separate cleaning, sanitizing, and hand wash facilities.
Fee: $400.00/2 years
20-C license
NYSDAM
Fee – $400.00/2 years
Inspection Agency NYSDAM
May request review of processing procedures by recognized processing authority. Only normal kitchen facilities can be used.
NYSDAM
Dept. of Health- fresh-serve foods only. Kitchen held to restaurant standards (see below).
NYSDAM
Dept. of Health- fresh-serve foods only. Kitchen held to restaurant standards (see below).
Foods Allowed Candy- non-chocolate, fudge
Cakes not requiring refrigeration
Cookies
Brownies
Two-crust fruit pies
Bread, rolls
Fruit jams, jellies
Spices, herbs
Snack items
Baked goods (i.e. bread, rolls) for wholesale distribution
Any processed food
Low acid and acidified foods packed in hermetically sealed containers. Must register and file with FDA
Any processed food
Low acid and acidified foods packed in hermetically sealed containers. Must register and file with FDA
Foods Not Allowed Cakes which require refrigeration
Pies containing milk, eggs or meat products
Chocolates
Low acid / acidified foods
Meat products – if more than 3% raw or 2% cooked
meat ingredients – USDA regulated
Meat products if more than 3% raw or 2% cooked meat ingredients – USDA regulated
Zoning
  • Check with city/town Zoning /Planning Board
  • Issues: Scale of operation, number of employees
  • Check with municipality Zoning/Planning Board
  • Issues: scale of operation; number of employees
  • 2nd kitchen may not be allowed on premise
  • Check with municipality Zoning/Planning Board
  • Issues: scale of operation, number of employees

Basic Requirements for a Small-Scale Food Processing Establishment

State of NY Department of Health (DOH) – Restaurants

  • Submit kitchen drawings before construction
  • Three-bay sink with stainless steel drain boards or two-bay sink with a commercial dishwasher
  • Separate hand washing/mop sink
  • Washable materials on walls and work surfaces
  • Restaurant grade, commercial tile floors- painted concrete not allowed
  • Commercial coolers/refrigeration
  • Water from non-municipal water supply must be tested quarterly.
  • Review DOH “Checklist for New or Remodeled Establishments”
  • Some locales require food worker certification.

NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets – Food preparation and processing

  • Kitchen requirements based on food item(s) being produced- Determined upon inspection
  • Easily cleanable, smooth work surfaces.
  • Non-absorbent, smooth and easily cleanable floors, walls and ceilings.
  • Review of processing procedures including hand washing, sanitizing, equipment sinks, water potability and food preparation.
  • Review NYSDAM Circular 951 -Pursuant to the Licensing of Food Processing Establishments.
  • *Circular 938 – Rules and Regulations Relating to Food Processing Establishments.
  • *Circular 933-Good Manufacturing Practices

*Circulars are available through local Dept. of Agriculture and Markets or NYSDAM, 10B Airline Drive Albany, NY 12235, Phone 518-457-3880 0r 1-800-554-4501

Helpful Resources for Small Scale Food Processors

For assistance in developing a scheduled process for your recipe or developing a processed food product, contact:
NY Food Venture Center at the NYS Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, 315-787-2259 or .
Request the publicationSmall Scale Food Entrepreneurship:  A Technical Guide for Food Ventures from Elizabeth Keller, 315-787-2273 or or access the online version: http://www4.gsb.columbia.edu/filemgr?file_id=738927

Product development, processing and distribution assistance is also available from Nelson Farms at SUNY Morrisville – 315-655-8831 or www.nelsonfarms.org

To learn about small scale food processing activities in NYS, join the NYS Small Scale Food Processors Association: www.nyssfpa.com and become a member of Pride of NY – 800-554-4501 or email: ; www.prideofny.com

Regional Offices of the NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets

NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets
Division of Food and Inspection Services
55 Hanson Place
Brooklyn, NY 11217-1583
718-722-2876

NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets
Division of Food and Inspection Services
Electric Tower Building
535 Washington Street, 2nd Floor Suite 203
Buffalo, NY 14203
716-847-3185

NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets
Division of Food and Inspection Services
900 Jefferson Road
Rochester, NY 14623
585-487-0200

NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets
Division of Food and Inspection Services
NYS Fairgrounds – Art and Home Center
Syracuse, NY 13209
315-487-0852

United States Food and Drug Administration
300 Pearl Street, Suite 100
Buffalo, NY 14202
716-551-4478

New York District Office
158-15 Liberty Avenue
Jamaica, NY 11433
718-662-5447

United States Department of Agriculture – Food Safety Inspection Service (USDA FSIS)
5 Washington Square
Albany, NY 12205
518-457-4492

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Comments

10 thoughts on “#28 Becoming a Small-Scale Food Processor

  1. B. Freeman says:

    This information is very useful. It gave me insight into requirements and exemptions that I didn’t know were available. I plan on gathering more information on Food Inspection and Processing guidelines. Thank you. B.Freeman

  2. Patti says:

    Does a home processor cook need insurance? If so what kind and how much? For selling at craft shows,thank you

  3. Suzanne Garnsey says:

    What about home canned fruit butters and home canned hot sauce? Do these need the 20C license?

  4. w. bak says:

    thank you for putting this info out. It is extremely helpful..

  5. Seth Asinor says:

    Hi, I am starting a fruit juice business, I have the NYDOHMH CERTIFICATE, JUICE HACCP CERTIFICATE, A HACCP PLAN, A PASTEURIZER, TAX ID AND COMMERCIAL KITCHEN INFORMATION.
    WHAT ARE THE SUBSEQUENT STEPS TO FOLLOW? Thanks

  6. patricia nguti says:

    I found the information to be extremely helpful. It answered many questions we had requiring starting a small scale business from our home.

  7. jarid lewis says:

    i manage a restaurant and was wondering what the cost would be to get licensed to sell mustard and wing sauces

  8. Sarah Diana Nechamen says:

    Hi Jarid,
    Check out this NYS Ag and Markets page to determine what kind of licenses you might need.

  9. Jarred says:

    I work at a certified kitchen for my regular job and also make cheese at that kitchen when I am able to. The owner allows me to. What would I need to do for certification with this situation to sell my product?

  10. Carli Fraccarolli says:

    Hi Jarred,

    I would suggest contacting your local Cornell Cooperative Extension agent for the answers to your questions. Click your county on this interactive map for contact information: http://smallfarms.cornell.edu/contact/local-contacts/

    Good luck!
    Carli – Cornell Small Farms Summer Intern

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