Starting a New Food Business
Hello, food entrepreneur!
We appreciate your contacting the University of Georgia Extension Food Science Outreach Program to request information pertaining to the start up of a specialty foods business. We hope the following "virtual packet" of resources will help you get started with your small food business. You can also help us plan our programs by completing a brief survey!
On this Web page, you will find details about :
- EFS Services provided by the UGA EFS staff and specialists
- Process Approval and Product Classification - required by the GA Department of Agriculture - use payment form below to calculate fees.
- Nutrition Facts Panel - get a nutrition facts panel in digital format ready to be placed on your product label - use payment form below to calculate fees.
- Starting a New Food Business - two-day seminar - offered several times a year around the state
- In-state (Georgia) payment calculation form (NOTE: Please do not email this form with your credit card information - fax to the number on the form or mail it!)
- Out-of-state payment calculation form (NOTE: Please do not email this form with your credit card information - fax to the number on the form or mail it!)
- Food Science Extension Publications relating to food businesses and food safety (PDF format)
- Other Helpful Resources
- Federal Regulations - USDA and FDA regulations in PDF format
- Links to other related Web sites
First, be sure to take full advantage of the food safety training and other services that the UGA EFS specialists offer:
1. Starting a New Food Business in Georgia, an ALL NEW two-day workshop for food entrepreneurs, is taught by UGA and EFS specialists, Georgia Department of Agriculture and FDA personnel. This new agenda gives participants a good background on the federal and state regulations for operating a food business, what you should know about safe processing, product testing, as well as an opportunity to talk with other specialty food business entrepreneurs. Check the EFS calendar on our Web site for the next seminar date and place.
2. Process Approval – If you plan to process and package the food product yourself in a licensed and inspected commercial kitchen facility, you may need to get a process approval. The Georgia Department of Agriculture (GDA) requires that certain types of food items offered for sale within the State of Georgia have a letter of process approval from a certified food processing authority, like the UGA Extension Food Science specialists.
The process authority carefully examines the recipe, the methods used to prepare, package and store the item, and the food safety precautions required to produce a safe product. Once the process is approved, a letter of process approval is sent to the Georgia Department of Agriculture. Then GDA will send a letter of process certification for the product to you.
The UGA EFS specialists offer process approval services to Georgia food businesses for a nominal fee. Click here for the NEW PDF form listing the information we need from you to evaluate your process and issue a process approval letter. Please use the payment form to calculate the fees for your order. Sorry, this service is not available for companies outside of Georgia.
3. Product Classification - If you are not sure whether your product would be classified as an acid or acidified food product, we can do this testing for you. Click here for the PDF form for receiving a product classification. Please use the payment form to calculate the fees for your order.
4.Nutritional Facts Panel – The federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act requires that packaged foods bear nutrition labeling unless they qualify for an exemption. A small business may be exempt from displaying the Nutrition Facts Panel if: (1) the annual gross sales of food to consumers is less than $50,000, (2) it has fewer than 100 employees, and (3) sales of fewer than 100,000 units per year. Note: If any nutrient content claim (e.g., "low fat") or health claim is made on the labeling or advertising of the product, the small business exemption is not applicable.
Keep in mind, however, that wholesale buyers may require that the nutrition facts panel be on the product label. Also, if you are getting a large number of your food product labels printed, it will save time and money to design the label with the nutrition facts panel in place.
A separate nutrition facts panel is required for each size of container or package. The EFS specialists will provide a nutrition facts panel in digital format ready to put into your label for a nominal fee.
- Type the information we need to prepare your Nutrition Facts Panel on this PDF form. Save it to your computer, then email it to email@example.com.
- For businesses within the state of Georgia, click here to for the form to calculate your payment. Do not email this form - print and fax or mail it.
- Out-of-state businesses should use this out-of-state payment form to calculate fees for EFS services. Do not email this form - print and fax or mail it.
5. Better Process Control School – This four-day food safety training course is offered in March by UGA specialists at the Extension Food Science training facilities on the UGA Campus in Athens. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations requires that all acidified and low-acid processors of foods have someone on the premises who has successfully completed this training whenever food is being processed. A two and one-half-day course for acidified foods is also offered in November. Please see the EFS calendar for more information, links to online registration and the workshop brochures.
Looking for a Co-Packer or A Commercial Kitchen? If you are just starting out and don't have a commercial kitchen available to prepare the food items that you want to put on the market, a co-packer may save you money and frustration. Click on the blue link for a list of Georgia co-packers and commercial kitchens (PDF). A good article (PDF format) abou t choosing a co-packer by Dr. John Rushing can be found here.
Printed copies of these publications related to starting a new food business may be available from your local County Extension Agent, or print them out from these links using the free Adobe Reader software.
- Getting Started in the Specialty Food Business
- Quality Control
- What’s on a Label?
- Nutrition Labeling
- What are Bacteria, Yeasts & Molds?
- Food Hands & Bacteria
- Preventing Food Poisoning & Food Infection
- Cleaning, Sanitizing & Pest Control in Food Processing, Storage & Service Areas
- GDA Guidelines for Food Processing Safety as issued by the Consumer Protection Division of the Georgia Department of Agriculture October 2011.
- GDA Cottage Food Industry is a new law for processing non-potentially hazardous foods in a licensed and inspected home kitchen.
- GDA Regulations for Licensing Food Processing Firms - revised March 30, 2012
- GDA Regulatory Requirements for Licensing a Small Egg Producer
- GDA Guidelines for Food Products Solds at Events Sponsored by Non-Profit Organizations
- GDA Guidelines for Honey Processors
- GA Env. Health Certified Labs
- GA EPD Water Testing Labs
- EFS List of Georgia Food Co-Packers and Certified Commercial Kitchens - these companies can produce your specialty food item according to your specifications, using your label, for a fee.
- Choosing a Co-Packer - an article by Dr. John Rushing of University of North Carolina about choosing someone to manufacture your specialty food product.
- Food Product Testing Labs list
- Guidelines for Selecting Business Insurance
- Acidified Foods – 21 CFR 114
- Low-Acid Foods – 21 CFR 113
- Food Labeling – 21 CFR 101
- Trans-Fatty Acids – CFSAN Guidance
- Current Good Manufacturing Practices - 21 CFR 110
- Approximate pH of Foods - FDA CFSAN
- Small Business Labeling Exemption Guidelines – FDA CFSAN
- Small Business Labeling Exemption Forms – FDA CFSAN
UGA EFS Food Safety Training – http://EFSonline.uga.edu - click on the CALENDAR link to examine the latest schedule of workshops and short courses on food safety, HACCP, starting a new food business, etc., at the University of Georgia in Athens, Georgia USA.
Food Product Innovation and Commercialization Center (FoodPIC) - http://www.caes.uga.edu/center/foodpic/ - the UGA Food Science department at Griffin (about 30 miles south of Hartsfield Airport) offers assistance in getting food products into the market place.
National Center for Home Food Preservation - www.uga.edu/nchfp/index.html - "So Easy to Preserve" book, recipes and instructions for canning, freezing, drying, fermenting, pickling foods.
ServSafe Programs - www.fcs.uga.edu/ext/servsafe/ - Food safety training courses designed for food service and restaurant workers, co-sponsored by the UGA Cooperative Extension Service and the Georgia Restaurant Association.
Obtaining a UPC Bar Code – If you will be putting numerous products on the market, you should purchase a block of numbers for your product label. Visit the Uniform Code Council Website for more details, membership required. http://www.uc-council.org/
If you only plan to market one or two products, use Google to locate companies that sell valid UPC bar codes for a great discount.
FDA Center for Food Safety & Applied Nutrition (CFSAN) – http://vm.cfsan.fda.gov - Information on non-meat (except seafood) foods, food safety, acidified and low-acid canned foods, foodborne illnesses, etc.
USDA Food Safety & Inspection Service (FSIS) – http://www.fsis.usda.gov/ - Information on meat and poultry processing, food safety for meats, federal regulations for processing meat and poultry, food safety, etc.
Georgia Department of Agriculture – http://agr.georgia.gov/
- Consumer Protection Division - approves food product labels
- Food Safety
- Georgia Food Safety Task Force
- Processing Plants
Please contact us if we can be of further assistance at (706) 542-2574 or by email at EFS@uga.edu. Thank you for using the resources of the UGA Cooperative Extension System.