Food Businesses

Crocks

Please consider the following as guidelines only and contact your local NCDA inspector for the requirements of your particular business.

Want to sell a value-added food?

Call the your local inspector with the North Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services (NCDA), describe your product, and ask if they will require you to submit a sample of your product to the NC State University Department of Food, Bioprocessing and Nutrition Sciences. Fermented foods are probably heading to the lab unless hot canned and prepared via an approved recipe.
 
Kraut PicSending samples to the NCSU Food Science Lab:

1. Read about food product testing and complete the online form.
2. The lab will contact you with their questions.
3. If you are asked to send a sample, the lab will let you know how to ship.
4. Lab will approve or give recommendations – they will typically help you multiple times without requiring an additional fee.


Product notes

The more you know about your product and the fermentation process, the more confident those approving your process will be in your ability to create a consistently safe food! Questions to consider in advance include: What causes the fermentation? What is the desired pH? How long does it take to get to that pH?

For a product to be considered “shelf-stable” there must be an end to the fermentation (for example through thermal processing). If the food is approved as shelf-stable then you may be eligible to request home processor status through the NCDA. Otherwise it will need to be kept refrigerated to be sold, as well as processed in a commercial kitchen. This can include a restaurant kitchen or local community/incubator kitchen.

Western North Carolina is home to two shared-use commercial kitchens: 

  • To contact the Ashe County kitchen at Ashe Family Center in Jefferson, NC, contact the Ashe County Partnership for Children and they will connect you with the kitchen coordinator.
  • Blue Ridge Food Ventures in Asheville, NC is an 11,000 sq. ft. shared-use kitchen incubator and natural products manufacturing facility, as well as a great resource to food business start-ups.

For high-acid products you will need to go through Better Process Control School held annually in Asheville, or process in a commercial kitchen with someone who has. Although sometimes referred to as “Pickle School,” Asheville sessions cover both canning and acidification, while the true “Pickle School” short course held in Raleigh covers primarily cucumber pickles.

Food Businesses Presentations

MillFermented and Dried Meat Products, presented by Melanie Pollard, Food Compliance Officer for the NC Department of Agriculture Meat & Poultry Inspection Division during the July 15 - 16th, 2012, Fermented Food Businesses workshop.

NC Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, an overview of the department for food producers presented by Harold McDowell, Food Regulatory Specialist II, during the July 15 - 16th, 2012, Fermented Food Businesses workshop.

Additional Links

North Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services 

North Carolina State University Department of Food, Bioprocessing and Nutrition Sciences