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You can’t do it from home

July 28, 2016

By Lisa Reed, Food Science Intern, Food Starter

Busy food entrepreneurs often ask Food Starter staff, “can I produce my products at home”? The short answer is “no”.

All grocery stores and specialty food shops are only permitted to sell products made in an inspected food preparation site. The minimum inspection level is municipal; however, many stores want more rigorous inspections and, if you make a product that contains meat or dairy, you’ll need to have an OMAFRA meat/dairy license to distribute within Ontario, and must be federally inspected by the CFIA to distribute outside of Ontario.

 Regardless of what food product you make, there are dozens of regulations that need to be met and you should read and understand them fully before you begin business. (All specific requirements for a manufacturing facility can be found following this link: https://www.ontario.ca/laws/regulation/900562#BK2)

The most important requirements that exclude most home kitchens as candidates for commercial food production sites include:

  1. All walls need to be made from a material that allows it to be kept clean and sanitized
  2. All inspected facilities require a separate hand-washing sink that is not used for dishwashing or food handling.
  3. Thermometers on your fridge and freezer are required and you must maintain a temperature log

Even if you only intend to sell to farmer’s markets where home produced food products are allowed, I would highly recommend using an inspected food production facility where significant measures are in place to ensure food safety and tractability. For example, at Food Starter counter top and equipment sanitizers are specifically designed for food production facilities; and, we test our wash-down (dishwashing) equipment regularly to ensure the machines reach the proper temperature and detergent concentrations to kill all bacteria. Additionally, commercial food production environments like Food Starter have equipment like metal detectors and a packaging code printer which offer further assurances.

When choosing a production facility, always ask the management these questions:

  • how the facility is inspected- is it municipal, provincial, or federal?
  • check how the facility handles different allergens- especially if you intend on producing a food with an allergen claim such as gluten or peanut free
  • How do they ensure that all companies using the facility comply with food safety rules?       

The health and safety of your consumers should always be your first priority and we’re here to make sure that your product is produced safely so that you can grow your business. If you’re interested in checking out our provincially compliant food production plant? Click here to sign up for one of our free weekly tours.