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Canning local produce

Canning local produce

Question:

I work with a local farm to get much of my produce, especially in summer and fall. Our farmer asked if we would can some products like pickles, salsas and hot sauces that she could sell. What are the rules for something like that?

– Chef, Philadelphia, PA

Answer:

It is important to remember that regulations for operating a foodservice establishment are not interchangeable with those for manufacturing a food product as a copacker or retailer. Canning in particular typically requires approval from your state department of agriculture and the filing and approval of a HACCP plan. Your commercial kitchen may meet their requirements for food processing, but you may even have to make some changes.

Canning is a particular risk because of the potential for the growth of Clostridium botulinim, which may cause illness or death through botulism. Non-meat products with a pH of 4.6 or lower are generally simpler to get approved and can be processed with a hot fill and/or waterbath, whereas higher pH foods require pressure canning and a more involved HACCP plan. Municipal health departments are cracking down on restaurants doing canning, even for their own use, without proper approvals and HACCP plans in place.

It is also important to make sure that you are operating properly with your existing insurance coverage. Separate product liability insurance may be required if you are selling the products and they are being carried off-premise, as opposed to preserving otherwise canning items for later use within the restaurant.

Technical assistance for canning here.

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