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Frequently Asked Questions About Food Businesses
Who regulates food I would sell?

Can I sell food made in my home kitchen?

Could I have someone else produce my food for me to sell?


Who can help me determine whether I should build a home kitchen, or have a copacker product my product?

Can I produce foods in my home and cater them to other homes or for parties?

Can my home recipe be used to manufacture the food?

What assistance is available from NC State?

Where can I get help with labeling and nutritional labeling?

Does the database calculation work for all products?

Also visit:
US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)


Who regulates food I would sell?
Food products in North Carolina are mainly regulated by two agencies.

Prepared and ready-to-eat foods are regulated by county health departments under statewide rules adopted by the Dairy and Food Protection Branch of the NC Division of Environmental Health Services Section.

Packaged foods
are regulated under the NC Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (NCDA&CS). Meat and meat-containing products are regulated by the Meat and Poultry Inspection Division. Packaged foods other than meats are regulated by the Food and Drug Protection Division. Certain seafood and milk products have separate rules.

For a summary of the regulatory agencies see our fact sheet "Who Will Regulate My Food Business?"

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Can I sell food made in my home kitchen?
The short answer is, "probably not."

Most products can not be manufactured in a home kitchen. However, some food products regulated by the NCDA&CS Food and Drug Protection division can be manufactured from a home kitchen. More information is available at www.nchomeprocessing.com.

Food regulatory agencies are established to protect the safety and wholesomeness of foods offered for sale in the marketplace. These agencies are required to make unannounced inspections of the manufacturing facility to ensure the food is produced under Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP). This would obviously conflict with privacy guaranteed for the home. However, some manufacturers have built a separate home processing area to process food which can meet the standards in the GMP.

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Could I have someone else produce my food for me to sell?
Yes, many manufacturers both large and small, will "copack" food items for others to sell.

For some guidelines in dealing with a copacker consult the fact sheet, "Choosing a Copacker."

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Who can help me determine whether I should build a home kitchen, or have a copacker product my product?
Our food scientists would be glad to provide assistance in making this decision, however, this is a business decision you should make in accordance with your business plan.

For assistance in developing a business plan, contact the Small Business Technology and Development Center nearest you.

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Can I produce foods in my home and cater them to other homes or for parties?
No, catered foods are regulated by local County Health Departments under statewide rules adopted by the Food and Lodging Sanitation Branch of the NC Division of Environmental Health.

An exception to this rule is the preparation of bakery items. Bakery items are regulated by the Food and Drug Protection Division. For further information on catering baked items, visit the NCDA&CS web site on Starting a Home-Based Food Business. For a summary of the regulatory agencies see our fact sheet “Who Will Regulate My Food Business?”

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Can my home recipe be used to manufacture the food?
Sometimes the recipe is adequate to be used commercially, but usually it needs to be changed to make it more shelf-stable.

The first goal of producing a food is that it be safe. This means that it must be manufactured in accordance with established rules and guidelines. It may be necessary to retain a food technologist to modify your product. Some testing services are available from Food Science Extension at NC State University. In addition, Food Science Extension Specialists are available to advise you on your product.

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What assistance is available from NC State University?
University food scientists will assist North Carolina entrepreneurs in determining the shelf stability of their product and will make recommendations on ingredients and processing methods. They will also help with certain labeling issues. It is preferred that you have completed a business plan so basic questions can be addressed in the consultation. There are also Short Courses that are offered by Extension Specialists with the Department of Food, Bioprocessing and Nutrition Sciences at NCSU. See Events in this web site.

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Where can I get help with labeling and nutritional labeling?
Labeling is regulated by the FDA through NCDA&CS.

Some nutritional labeling assistance is available for North Carolina residents from NC State Food Science extension specialists using database information. Click here for information on submitting your product to NC State University for nutritional labeling or testing.

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Does the database calculation work for all products?
No, your label may be wrong if the ingredients and amounts submitted in the ingredient report are not correct. If you have not actually weighed the ingredients, there may also be mistakes.

Unless otherwise noted, the assumption is used that all the ingredients in the formula are present in the product and that there was no cooking loss, breading loss or added ingredients, such as added frying oil. In some cases an ingredient does not appear in the database. It then is up to you to furnish that information.

Database calculations, while useful, are not analyses. We recommend laboratory analysis of your product by one of the many consulting labs which perform nutrient analyses. The database may not have the exact nutritional information for your ingredient, (i.e. one brand of catsup may not have the same nutrients as another brand). Database calculation gives a reasonable approximation of the nutrient value of the submitted formulation, but because there are so many factors to consider, it cannot be assumed to be a substitute for laboratory analysis. The choice to use this information on a label is solely yours.

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