Producing your Michigan food product (Part 1)

The Michigan State University Product Center can assist prospective food entrepreneurs to understand and navigate complex requirements through educational programs and business counseling.

Many great cooks dream about the day when they can start that food business selling the family favorites or that dish that everyone loves at the church potluck. What does it take to make your food business a success?

Producing a wholesome product, selling your food product and managing your costs and expenses are principles fundamental to any business. In this series, we will explore what is needed, and how you can connect with resources to realize your dream.

A food product for sale is something produced under government control to assure safety to the public. The Michigan Food Law and 2005 Food Code sets out requirements for Michigan food production. With certain exceptions, the Michigan Food Law will govern points such as food processing facilities, ingredient and finished product storage, transportation, food labeling and licensure. Depending upon they type of food, sales location, and other factors, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, or certain local health departments enforce the Michigan Food Law and 2005 Food Code.

Food processing requirements vary widely depending upon the type of product and how it is to be handled and sold. These requirements are largely related to the potential food safety risk. Accordingly, higher-risk food production is subject to extensive reviews and controls. For example, salsa or pickles which contain naturally low acid vegetables must undergo and pass a process authority review. Special training and certifications may also be necessary.

Two upcoming Better Process Control Schools will be held October 17-19 and 17-21 by Michigan State University and the Grocery Manufacturers Association Science and Education Foundation in East Lansing for those seeking to learn about acidified foods and/or low-acid canned foods.

The Michigan State University Product Center can assist individuals with food product development through educational programs, business counseling, business planning and technical assistance. Visit the website or call 517-432-8750 for educational programs such as the Making it in Michigan Conference October 19, 2011, or The Road to Independence offered at various times and locations, or to request individual business counseling.

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