A Food Processor is an individual or organization that takes either raw food products and ingredients, or pre-processed products, combines or repackages them and distributes the finished product. The distribution can be to grocery stores, warehouses, or other distributors.
Food processing can be a simple operation, such as repackaging bulk foods, baking bread and distributing it, or a more complicated operation such as canning and preserving. The key here is that the product is not sold directly to the consumer.
It is important to know that in some instances there is an overlapping of regulation jurisdiction between local, state and federal agencies, which means a food processor, could be inspected and regulated by more than one regulatory agency.
All food processing operations Missouri need to comply with the requirements of 21CFR110 Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs). This is a Code of Federal Regulation that the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services uses when inspecting all types of processing, distribution and warehousing facilities.
21CFR110 is a very general set of regulations that provide information about the food processing structure, plumbing and building materials to name a few. Some operations have additional regulations to follow and are described below.
Canning-Jams & Jellies, Acidified Foods and Low Acid Foods
If you want to begin a canning operation, there are two basic types of operations: Acidified Foods and Low Acid Foods. Acidified Foods are foods in which the finished product has a pH below 4.6. Foods that fall into this category are salsas and other foods to which an acid (commonly lemon juice or vinegar) has been added. Sometimes these are called “pickled” foods. A person who is canning acidified foods will need to follow the requirements of 21CFR 114 Acidified Foods in addition to 21CFR110.
21CFR114 provides the requirements for personnel to have attended a Better Process Control School, have the recipe reviewed by a Process Authority and also provides the requirements for maintaining controls over the canning process.
A good place to start when researching acidified foods is the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, Regional Food Processing Inspector. There are three in Missouri, one each in St Louis, Kansas City and Springfield.
The second type of canning operation is called a Low Acid canned food. These are foods in which the final product has a pH above 4.6. A common food in this category would be canned green beans. If you want to begin canning low acid foods you would need to follow 21CFR 113 Thermally Processed Low Acid Foods, Packaged in Hermetically Sealed Containers in addition to 21CFR110.
21CFR113 has the requirements for attending a Better Process Control School, having the recipe and canning process reviewed by a Process Authority, obtaining a federal canning identification number, retort and processing requirements and record keeping. A good place to begin researching this topic would be the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, Regional Food Processor Inspector.
Bottling water is becoming another type of process that interests Missourians. Whether it is bottling from a municipal water supply or developing one of Missouri’s springs, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services will be involved. As with any other food process, 21CFR110 must be followed for general sanitation and facility requirements of the bottling plant. The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services follows the federal rules for water bottling that are found in 21CFR129 Processing and Bottling of Bottled Drinking Water. 21CFR 129 covers items related to plant construction and design, sanitary facilities, sanitary operations, equipment and procedures and processes and controls. Another federal code of regulations that is utilized is 21CFR165 Beverages. This Code of Federal Regulations governs the development of water supplies along with biological, chemical and radiological standards and testing requirements. Besides the federal code of regulations, the State of Missouri has a Code of State Regulations that govern water bottling, 19CSR20-1.050 Sanitation Standards for the Manufacture of Soft Drinks and Beverages. It would be a good idea to contact the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, Regional Food Processor Inspector in your area if you are considering starting a bottled water operation.
If you are considering slaughtering and processing meat or poultry for sale or distribution within the state, contact the Missouri Department of Agriculture, Animal Health Division.
Processing of eggs in Missouri falls under the jurisdiction of the Missouri Department of Agriculture, Egg Licensing and Inspection Program.
If you are plan to slaughter and process meat or poultry, or process eggs for sale or distribution outside the state, you should contact the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
These are just some of the many examples of food processing, there are hundreds of different processes and products that would qualify a person or organization as a food processor. Please contact the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, Regional Food Processor Inspector for information specific to your operation or the operation you are considering.