Some basic steps to develop a food product

After the marketing work is done, product development is the next step in commercializing a food concept.

A few basic steps are necessary to develop a food product. The first consideration would be to record the journey. This would include the methods and who has responsibility for each and every step of the development process. Recording will help if some specific adversity would come about, requiring clarification of the process and who is responsible for each part of the development. This includes all the steps from design and conversion of materials to commercialization. 

The manufacturing process and meeting the regulatory requirements of a safe food product will need to be validated. This would happen in a facilities trial. In Michigan the MDARD inspector will be present for a facilities trial to insure that the operator is familiar with the process and can create a safe food product. This may also include, depending on the product, may include a Process Authority Review, by a qualified food scientist. 

Shelf life trials may also be required. When is shelf life testing is required the processor is specifically seeking to determine the expiration date. The processor would also be determine the proper handling and storage requirements while the product is in the logistics chain, and would also determine microbial activity under proper handling. The processor uses this information to provide guidance to the end user on how to store and use the product. 

A food safety and recall plan is also necessary in the development of a product. Typically a HACCP plan, would be used to mitigate risk in the manufacturing process. Recall plans are necessary to mitigate risk to the public and to the processor if a problem were to emerge with a product. 

Of course, record keeping is essential. Records regarding the development of a product should be maintained and available regarding all aspects of the development, trials and and manufacturing process. 

Educators at Michigan State University Extension and innovation counselors at the Michigan State University Product Center assist businesses in the establishment of good practices to improve product development and business effectiveness. For further information and assistance with employee communications please contact your local Michigan State University Extension office. 

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