When is a Commercial Kitchen Food License Required?
Starting a home-based food business is a dream of many home cooks. Beginning small, in your own kitchen, with shelf-stable baked goods and other allowed foods, is a practical way to try out this venture.
You will need a food processing license from NH DHHS Food Protection or a self-inspecting city or town if you own a store front or commercial kitchen. If it is in a separate area of your home, then it is a retail store and you will need a food prep license.
You will need a food processing license to sell the following foods at a Farmers Market or if you sell wholesale to restaurants from NH DHHS Food Protection or self-inspecting city or town. You will also need access to a commercial kitchen to make and sell these food products:
1. Acidified foods: low-acid foods to which acid(s) or acid food(s) are added.
2. Fermented foods – sauerkraut, kimchi (Kombucha cannot be made under the Homestead Act; making it for sale requires a beverage license if the alcohol content is .5% or less. Over that limit, a liquor license is required.)
3. Special processes – dehydration of food. Drying herbs is permitted as a homestead product.
4. Refrigerated foods or foods requiring Time/Temperature Control for safety (TCS foods) including cheesecake, sandwiches, salads, soups, etc.
Commercial Kitchen Requirements
3-bay sink to wash, rinse, and sanitize equipment
Separate food prep sink
At least one hand washing sink
Floors, walls, and ceilings are required to be smooth, durable, non-absorbant, and easily cleanable
Commercial Kitchen License Requirements
Water test results
Septic documentation, including approval for construction and approval for operation
If the facility is new, then floor plans are required to be submitted for a plan review prior to the construction
Process reviews are required for acidified foods or other “canned” foods. Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point
(HACCP) plan also required if licensed under food processing plant license but not if under retail store with food prep license
selling at retail direct to consumer. Products sold at farmers markets fall under food processing plant licensing.
Additional FDA Requirements for Acidified Foods
Processors of acidified foods are required to attend and satisfactorily complete a Better Process Control School (BPCS) for acidified foods.
In addition to the BPCS, manufacturers of acidified foods are required to file and register their scheduled processes with the FDA.
A scheduled process is the steps and controls you use to manufacture a food that will not permit the growth of foodborne illness causing microorganisms.