Helen Labun Jordan
There are four basic areas of regulations and requirements that a food processor will need to consider:
- Construction Permits (including local zoning and environmental codes)
- State Regulatory Agencies
- Federal Regulatory Agencies
- Commercial Buyers (who may require a particular audit)
Multiple regulations cover food processing, but not all apply to every facility. Some key distinctions are:
- Products containing meat or poultry are covered by USDA (federal) and VAAFM (state). Those without meat or poultry are generally covered by FDA (federal) and Department of Health (state).
- The Vermont regulatory agency in charge of products containing eggs or dairy is VAAFM.
- Products containing ingredients shipped interstate or being sold interstate are subject to federal regulations unless they meet a small business exemption.
There are several federal safety programs that producers and processors should be aware of:
- Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP): HACCP programs apply to the processing stage, intended to prevent contamination before a test of the end product.
- Current Good Manufacturing Practices (CGMPs): CGMPs provide guidance on establishing a safe manufacturing facility and are a basis for HACCP.
- The USDA / FSIS equivalent to CGMP is Sanitation Standard Operating Practices (SSOPs).
- Good Agricultural Practices / Good Handling Practices (GAP/GHP): The USDA Agricultural Marketing Services maintains a guide of best practices for produce production and handling. Auditing for these practices is currently optional, but that may change with new food safety regulations.
Not all regulations are about the processing facility and practices. Some pertain to labeling requirements: