State and Federal Regulations for Food Processors

Regulations vary from state to state. Here we provide resources from Pennsylvania and Federal sources. Check with your state Department of Agriculture or local Health Department to determine which regulations you need to follow.
State and Federal Regulations for Food Processors - Articles


Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (PDA)

Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture Regional Offices

Contact your regional PDA office for questions on state food regulations and to make an appointment for an inspection.

Requirements for Commercial Food Establishments

Establishments under this program include, a building, or place or part of a building, or vehicle that is maintained, used or operated for the purpose of commercially storing, packaging, making, cooking, mixing, processing, bottling, baking, canning, freezing, packing or otherwise preparing or transporting or handling food.

Requirements for Limited Food Establishments (home food processing)

The Department will allow some 'limited' types of food processing to occur in a 'residential style kitchen' with the intent of the producer to offer these products for sale to the public. There are certain modified requirements that may not meet all of those in the full state regulatory code.

Registration of food establishments with PDA

All food establishments must register with PDA. There is a $35 fee (made payable to the "Commonwealth of PA") which must be renewable annually.

There are only 2 exemptions to this requirement; 1) Honey products produced or processed on the farm in which the food establishment is located are exempt from the fee, but still must register and 2) Vehicles used primarily for the transportation of consumer commodities in bulk or quantity to manufacturers, packers, processors, or wholesale or retail distributors are not required to register.

Submit your application to the appropriate Regional Office as listed on the cover letter of the Application. Once approved, you will be contacted for an on-site inspection of the establishment. Upon a compliant inspection, your registration fee of $35.00 will be collected.

Guidelines for Food Establishment Construction Sanitary Practices

The Food Safety Act (3 C.S §§5721 - 5737) sets forth the standard for food establishments manufacturing and processing food in Pennsylvania. In general, the Department has adopted and enforces all Federal regulations related to food. This document is not intended to be an all-inclusive list of rules for manufacturer/processors, distributors and warehouses, but is intended to serve as a guideline and reference material.

Use this Checklist to evaluate the extent to which your facility is in compliance with GMPs.

Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture PA Approved Laboratories and Facilities

The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture approves commercial laboratories and milk facilities to perform tests required by current regulations. These laboratories participate in Pennsylvania's Laboratory Proficiency Testing Program conducted on a yearly basis and are evaluated on-site every two years.

Federal Food Regulations

Federal Food Facility Registration

Under the federal Bioterrorism Act of 2002, all commercial facilities that manufacturer, process, pack, receive, or hold food must register with the Food and Drug Administration. This requirement is in addition to state registration. Limited Food Establishments (homes), farms, retail operations, and USDA regulated Meat and Poultry processors are not required to register.

There is no cost involved and creating an account and filling out the form only takes a few minutes.

The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA)

The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) of 2011 is the most sweeping change to how foods are regulated in the U.S. Under FSMA, all facilities required to register with FDA must comply with the “Good Manufacturing Practices and Preventive Controls for Human Food” (PC Human Food) regulation. The full requirements of rule include attendance at an approved training course or knowledge otherwise obtained by experience, and a written food safety plan which includes a hazard analysis and preventive controls in place for safety.

Visit the Penn State Extension FSMA web site for details on the regulation, possible exemptions, and where to find PC Human Food training.

For FDA guidance on federal nutritional labeling requirements, visit the FDA website.

Standards of Identity Regulations

Standards of identity describe what a food product must contain in order for it to be labeled and marketed under its generally recognized name. For instance, mayonnaise must contain a specified range of vegetable oil, egg yolks or eggy yolk ingredients, and vinegar or lemon juice. If any of these ingredients do meet the standard, the product cannot be labeled as mayonnaise.

USDA Food Composition Databases

This website allows you to search the USDA Food Composition Databases.

U.P.C., Barcodes, and GS1 Company Prefixes

Learn more about barcodes or start creating one.