HOME-BASED FOOD PROCESSORS
A GUIDANCE DOCUMENT PREPARED BY THE:
PENNSYLVANIA DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
BUREAU OF FOOD SAFETY & LABORATORY SERVICES
DIVISION OF FOOD SAFETY
2301 NORTH CAMERON STREET
HARRISBURG, PA 17110-9408
(717) 787- 4315
Home kitchens may be used for the processing of certain foods for sale to the public. The foods are limited to those that will not support the growth of pathogenic organisms and do not require a form of temperature control, such as refrigeration or heating. The foods are classified as non-potentially hazardous foods.
Non-potentially hazardous foods that may be processed in a home kitchen may include:
Cakes, fruit pies, breads, rolls, brownies, cookies, fruit pastries, muffins, etc.
Jams and Jellies
Fruit varieties, etc.
Acidified Foods (Equilibrium pH of 4.6 or lower)
Salsa, pickled vegetables, hot sauces, etc.
Lollipops, fudge, chocolate, rock candy, hard candy, etc.
Potentially hazardous foods may be prepared in a home, if processed in a kitchen other than what is used for home-use and the facility has its own outside entrance.
For safety, time and/or temperature controls are needed to limit pathogen growth or toxin formation in potentially hazardous foods.
Potentially hazardous foods may include, but not limited to, any of the following products:
Cheesecakes, layer cakes with fresh fruit, cheese-filled products, pumpkin pies, custard pies, meringue pies, meat-filled products, etc. In general, most products that would require temperature control of the finished product.
The exception to this rule is low acid canned food (ph above 4.6), which can not be processed in a private residence.
Home processors, wholesale only, are regulated under the PA Food Act [Act No. 70, July 7, 1994, as amended (31 P.S. 20.1 et seq)]. Regulations are adopted under the Federal acts which relate to food.
In some cases, the home-based food business may retail the products directly to the consumers on premises, phone sales, internet sales, door-to-door, etc. Under these circumstances, the business would be regulated under
The PA Code, Title 7. Agriculture, Chapter 46 Food Code.
Under the current law, both retail and wholesale operations are registered with a $35 fee.
Some establishments are inspected by the Department, but are exempt from the $35 registration fee:
1. Vehicles used to transport food products.
2. 50% of the commodities sold were produced on the land on which the food establishment is located.
3. A food establishment selling food and beverages through vending machines.
4. A food establishment that sells only prepackaged, non-potentially hazardous food or beverage.
1. The Department will not approve a home-based food establishment where there are pets in the home that have free reign such as dogs, cats, etc.
The pets are not permitted in the home at anytime during the period the home-based food business is inspected and registered by the Department.
2. Children and infants are not permitted in the kitchen area during the processing for retail sale and/or wholesale business.
3. When processing for retail sale and/or wholesale business, no other activities may take place in the kitchen area, such as family meal preparation, etc.
4. All ingredients, equipment and supplies for the retail and/or wholesale food business must be kept separate from what is used for home-use. A separate drawer, shelf, cabinet, pantry shelf, etc. may be used. All ingredients, equipment and supplies must be properly stored and maintained.
HOW TO GET YOUR BUSINESS STARTED:
1. Contact your governing municipality (borough, township, or city) to determine if whether or not there are any local ordinances that would prevent a home-based food business. The Department will not supersede the governing municipality, if there is a local ordinance that prevents a home-based food business.
2. Obtain written approval from governing municipality. Letter will be turned over to the PDA sanitarian during home visit for inspection and registration. Business owner should keep a copy of letter on file.
3. So that you may receive the most accurate information during your initial contact with PDA, be prepared to discuss the specific type(s) of food products that you would like to process in your home.
4. Water used for the home-based food business must be from an approved source, such as municipal water. If source of homeâs water is a private source (well), the water must be tested and approved before PDA home kitchen inspection. (Contact nearest PDA Regional Office for lab info.)
5. Certain products may require laboratory testing
to verify product pH, water activity, % solids, etc. [Contact PDA Regional Office or Harrisburg Office to verify if whether or not initial lab testing is required for your product(s).]
6. Contact nearest PDA Regional Office:
Region I â 13410 Dunham Rd.,
Meadville, PA 16335
Region II - 542 Country Farm Rd., Suite #102,
Region III â Rt. 92 South , P.O. Box C
Tunkhannock, PA 18657
(570) 836 - 2181
Region IV - #6 McIntyre Rd., Gibsonia, PA 15044
Region V - 1307 7th St., Cricket Field Plaza
Altoona, PA 16601
(814) 946- 7315
Region VI - 1030 Maclay St., P.O. box 5184
Harrisburg, PA 17110
(717) 346 - 3223
7. During the initial inspection of the home-based
food operation, the sanitarian will record the product (s) menu. All additions or revisions to the original menu after the initial registration must be communicated to regional PDA Food Safety Office.
Product label Information
1. Product labeling is required for prepackaged food
2. Required label information:
- Common name of product.
- Name and address of productâs manufacturer or distributor. (For a home-based food processor, it is recommended that a post office box be used.).
- Net weight in terms of weight, measure, or count.
- Ingredients listed in descending order from most to least.
- Food establishments registered with the Department may label their food products as âReg. Penna. Dept. Agr.â.
1. Bakery goods sold at retail by the bakery directly to
the consumer in a retail establishment operated by the
2. Bakery products sold to a food service establishments,
when labeling information is available to the public on
the premises of the food service facility.
A sign or placard listing the ingredients in descending order of predominance by weight, shall be provided for food offered at retail in other than package form.
Small food processors may be exempt from nutritional labeling, based on annual gross sales or number of annual units sold. Businesses claiming such exemption, must notify FDA that they meet the criteria before marketing their products.
Additional Guidance References
Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture
Bureau of Food Safety & Laboratory Services
PA Laws, Regulations, and House Bills
Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA
U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)
Penn State University Food Safety Website (PSU)
PSU Food Science Web Log