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NCDA&CS Food Program – Home Processing Focus

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Do you make, package, and sell foods? Interested in value-added processing for your fresh produce? What about the differences between a home-inspected kitchen, a shared-use facility, or a commercial facility?

The Food Program at the North Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services (NCDA&CS) oversees many processed, packaged food products for sale within the state, and actively partners with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to enforce state-adopted federal regulations with an ultimate goal of producing safe foods and protecting public health.

Webinar Highlights

Food and Drug Protection Division oversees food safety for:

Packaged foods Manufactured foods Seafood
Shell eggs Dairy products Pet foods

The Food Program inspects two categories of facilities:

Type of inspected facility: Home Processing domestic kitchens Shared-use, Community kitchens, Commercial facilities
Products that can be produced or manufactured: ONLY Shelf-stable, low-risk foods Low & high risk foods, including refrigerated, frozen and shelf-stable products

What’s the difference between high- and low-risk foods?

High-risk foods

“Any ready-to-eat food that will support the growth of pathogenic bacteria easily and does not require any further heat treatment or cooking”. These types of foods are more likely to be implicated as vehicles for food poisoning organisms consumed in food poisoning incidents.

Low-risk foods

Generally have a heat treatment or cooking step, don’t need to be refrigerated (shelf stable) and tend to be high in sugar, salt or acid and/or low in water content. Low-risk foods are not normally a vehicle associated with a food poisoning incident.

Home Processing Application

If you are interested in producing and selling food products for human consumption from your home, you will need to first have your home kitchen inspected before doing so. This includes anyone selling to retail stores, restaurants, or directly to consumers. This also includes anyone opening and repackaging food products or ingredients purchased from other locations.

NCDA&CS does not charge for the inspection and a permit will not be issued. Inspectors will provide the home processor with a copy of the inspection report and the “Notice of Inspection” showing that they have been inspected.

This step-wise guide will help assess if you qualify to process your food products from your home residence & provide insight into the application process for inspection.

  • Verify that your product can be manufactured from the home.

    • As mentioned above, only low-risk, shelf-stable products can be made from the home kitchen, they may include:
Baked goods that do not require refrigeration Jams, jellies, and preserves Candies Dried mixes & spices
Some sauces * (i.e. balsamic dressing, etc.) Acid and acidified foods * (i.e. pickles, BBQ sauce, etc.) Freeze dried fruits/vegetables * Some liquids (i.e. ice tea, coffee, lemonade, etc.)

* Note: These products are required to first be evaluated to determine if they are shelf stable. If you are planning on producing pickles or other acidified food products, please contact the Food Compliance Office at (984) 236-4820.

    • Products NOT ALLOWED to be manufactured from the home include:
Refrigerated or frozen products Low-acid canned foods (i.e. jarred fruits, vegetables, etc.) Dairy Products
Seafood products Bottled water/Juice products Bakery products with cream or cream cheese fillings; cheesecakes
  • Assess the status of pets in your home

    • Do you have a pet in your home, even if it just comes in the home at night? If so, you will not be able to manufacture foods from your residence.
  • Check that your home processing area to ensure it meets food safety requirements:

    • Food contact surfaces must be smooth and easily cleanable
    • The home must be free of insects, rodents, and other type pests
    • Thermometers should be kept in the refrigerator and freezer to monitor temperature
    • Light bulbs over the processing areas should have protective shields or shatter proof bulbs
    • Home must an adequate water source and way of disposing of waste
    • Areas around processing areas must be maintained in a condition that will prevent contamination of any food, equipment, and supplies
  • Contact your Local Planning or Zoning Department

    • If you and your food products qualify to be made at your home, it’s required to also check with your local Planning or Zoning Department to determine if you can operate a food business from your home.
    • It’s also suggested to check with your HOA or leasing office, if applicable.
  • Ensure your home’s water safety

Municipal water source

Private, well water source

Provide a copy of your water bill to confirm water source Water must be tested for coliform bacteria and E-coli before an inspection is scheduled
Test results must be within one (1) year of submitting your application and must be attached with your completed application
Well water testing must be done by an agency that is certified in well water testing. It is recommended that you contact your local health department  for testing
  • Develop a business plan. Be prepared to share the following information:

    • Provide a detailed list of specific types of products by name that will be produced
    • Complete and detailed list of ingredients used and the suppliers
      • All ingredients must be FDA approved ingredients for food. Some herbs and mushrooms are commonly found in supplements and drugs, but not on FDA’s list as an approved food ingredient and would need special permission from the FDA to be used.
    • A plan for storage of supplies, equipment, ingredients, and finished product
    • A general production flow including procedures and equipment used
    • Describe how your product(s) will be transported (i.e. personal vehicle, food truck, etc.)
    • List of potential locations where you plan to sell your product (i.e. retail from home, farmers market, local businesses, etc.)
  • Create your food labels

    • Labels are required when items are sold in a self-service fashion (customer can select items themselves and take them to a register to purchase).
    • Labels are also required when products are shipped using postal services (like USPS or FedEx)
    • Label requirements:
      • Statement of Identity – Product name
      • Manufacturer’s name and address
      • Net contents – listed in net weight, volume or units. Ounces, fluid ounces or count
      • Complete list of ingredients, listed in predominance by weight
        • MUST include all ‘Top 9’ allergens, listed by their common name
        • Tree nuts and seafood must be identified by their species.
    • FDA Guidance for Industry: Food Labeling Guide
  • Submit your application 

    • Completed applications should be submitted to Printed applications can also be mailed for processing to the address below.
    • Applications take approximately 8-12 weeks to process. Inspections are typically scheduled over email, so be sure to check your Inbox and Spam folder for communication from the Food Regulatory Specialists.

kaye snipes contact information

Food Program Contacts

Located in Raleigh at the Steve Troxler Agricultural Sciences Center

4400 Reedy Creek Road, Raleigh, NC

Daniel Gaines

Food Administrator (984) 236- 4820

Joan Sims

Compliance & Rapid Response Manager (984) 236- 4820

Minoo Mehrotra

Compliance Supervisor (984) 236- 4820

Food Program Compliance Office

(984) 236- 4820

Webinar hosted on April 5, 2024

NIFA logo

“This work was supported by the intramural research program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Food Safety Outreach Program 1030908. The findings and conclusions in this preliminary publication have not been formally disseminated by the US Department of Agriculture and should not be construed to represent any agency determination or policy.”