Friday, October 8, 2010

How do I get started?

As a former nutrition and wellness educator with University of Illinois Extension and an expert on in the area of food safety, one of the most frequent questions that I receive is "I have a fabulous recipe for XYZ and would like to make and sell it to the public. How do I get started?"

I think a lot of people have watched the movie "Baby Boom" and think that it's a simple process -- just make a great product, market it and are suddenly a millionaire!! In the movie, Diane Keaton makes baby applesauce in her home kitchen and peddles the product to small stores in the New England area. Unfortunately, it's not exactly that simple.

First of all, in Illinois, to produce a product in your home requires that you do so in a kitchen separate from your home kitchen. This kitchen can be in the basement or other building on your property. You can not legally produce food for sale from your family kitchen.

Here's what you'll need in your separate kitchen:

  • 3-compartment sink
  • Backflow devises on your plumbing
  • Grease trap
  • Separate hand sink
  • Separate utility sink or curbed drain area.

In addition, all surfaces (floors, counters, walls, etc.) need need to be easy to clean and sanitize. 

Food items that can be made in a home environment include baked items (cookies, cakes, pies, etc). Foods that require processing (jams, jellies, salsa, etc) will require additional equipment and possibly additional FDA certification to be considered a food processor (more about this in future blog entries).

Before getting started, I strongly suggest you read the following book, "Sell Your Specialty Food" by Stephen F. Hall. This excellent resource answers many of the questions you may have about starting a food business and will walk you through the process.

Until next time.


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