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Home > Food Processing > Rules for Specific Foods
Page last updated
May 24, 2012
Meat | Poultry | Dairy | Eggs | Baked Goods | Fruits and Vegetables | Other
Food processing regulations are specific to each type of food. Different agencies regulate different types of food. Different food processing facilities may be restricted to producing only certain types of food. For example, processing regulations differ for perishable and non-perishable foods. Processing regulations differ for hazardous and non-hazardous foods.
Exemptions are often included in food processing regulations. For example, there may be exemptions to federal and state food processing regulations for small farms, home kitchens, small batch producers, and/or some religious groups.
If fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes are raw and uncut, they are not considered processed.
Hazardous or non-hazardous is determined by how perishable a food is, and how dangerous it may become once spoiled. Scientifically, it is determined by the pH balance of the food. Federal and state regulations define which foods are hazardous. PH Balance is a measurement used in chemistry to express the degree of acidity or alkalinity of a food. A pH of 7 is neutral. A higher pH expresses greater alkalinity; a lower pH expresses greater acidity.
GAP stands for Good Agricultural Practices and is a program developed by USDA, FDA and CDC to set guidelines for safe handling and harvesting procedures for fruits and vegetables.
HACCP (pronounced “hassip”) stands for Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points. The three main elements of the system are food microbiology, quality control, and risk assessment. It is a preventative program intended to improve food safety by identifying points in the processing and handling of food where food safety problems could occur. HACCP is a requirement for many types of food processing. Facility operators must develop their own HACCP plan for managing those critical control points and document implementation of their plan.
Pasteurization is a process for eliminating bacteria that contaminate food. In the past it usually meant heating liquids, like milk or juice, to a specified temperature for a specified length of time. Today it is often used, particularly on food labels, to refer to any technology (chemical bath, fumigant, irradiation, UV light treatment) that kills bacteria. Sometimes these other technologies are called dry pasteurization.
Processing for Profits in Maryland - White Paper by Ginger S. Myers
in July of 2009)
- Baked Goods
- Fruits and Vegetables
Maryland does not license or inspect animal slaughter facilities. However Maryland does cooperate and collaborate with USDA FSIS to enforce and comply with federal regulations.
USDA FSIS has jurisdiction over animal slaughter facilities and they issue a "grant of inspection", not a license, which is continuous while the operation is in compliance. In other words, if the facility meets federal standards, FSIS will assign an inspector to the facility, and FSIS will provide continuous inspection services to the facility as long as it operates in compliance with federal standards. If FSIS withdraws inspection services for whatever reason, the facility will no longer qualify as federally inspected.
USDA FSIS has jurisdiction over custom meat processing under the Federal Meat Inspection Act and may inspect facilities quarterly. Custom meat processors are not licensed, they receive an exemption from continuous inspection from FSIS.
In Maryland, mobile processing units (MPUs) may be used for processing meat or poultry but MPUs are not licensed. They are treated as an on-farm facility, and all the same facility licensing requirements apply.
As codified in the Federal Meat Inspection Act, "amenable meat" (cattle, sheep, goats, swine, equines, ratites) is under jurisdiction of FSIS and is from species specifically mentioned in the Federal Meat Inspection Act. Non-amenable meat (reindeer, elk, deer, antelope, water buffalo, bison, squirrel, opossum, raccoon, rabbits, muskrat, non-aquatic reptiles) is typically game and is not under jurisdiction of FSIS as the species are not specifically mentioned in the Federal Meat Inspection Act—even if they are raised on a farm.
Maryland Extension Resources:
A Guide for Maryland Department of Agriculture's Rabbit and Poultry Slaughter Requirements (Fact Sheet EBR-1 2010
Resource Added January 6, 2011
Direct Marketing Farm-Raised
Meats in Maryland
in June of 2009)
A Producer’s Guide to Meat and Poultry Processing Regulations in Maryland (Maryland Extension Bulletin 372)
in June of 2009)
Slaughter and/or Process Facilities in Maryland: Directory by County
in June of 2009)
USDA Inspected Facilities in Maryland:
Slaughter and Process Directory by County
in June of 2009)
eXtension Webinar - Meat Labels and Label Claims
in July of 2009)
USDA has jurisdiction over poultry slaughter facilities in Maryland and they issue a "grant of inspection", not a license, which is continuous while the operation is in compliance. USDA FSIS has jurisdiction over and issues a grant of inspection for processors of over 20,000 poultry per year. Under 20,000 slaughtered per year, USDA FSIS has jurisdiction to not sell adulterated poultry but the facilities are exempt from continuous inspection, however they may be inspected quarterly. Maryland allows the up to 20,000 bird exemption for on-farm processing and sales as specified in the Federal Poultry Act, but Maryland further restricts the Act by not allowing those birds to be sold off farm (DHMH approved source regulations). However, the Maryland Department of Agriculture may soon offer a training program for exempt farmers who want to sell off farm. Farmers enrolled in this program would be allowed by the state to sell off farm without further inspection.
USDA FSIS has jurisdiction over custom poultry processing under the Federal Poultry Inspection Act and may inspect facilities quarterly. Custom poultry processors are not licensed, they receive an exemption from continuous inspection from FSIS.
In Maryland, MPUs may be used for processing meat or poultry but MPUs are not licensed. They are treated as an on-farm facility, and all the same facility licensing requirements apply.
As codified in the Federal Poultry Inspection Act, "amenable poultry" (chicken, turkey, ducks, geese, ratites, guineas, squabs) is under jurisdiction of FSIS and is from species specifically mentioned in the Federal Poultry Inspection Act. Non-amenable poultry (pheasant, quail, wild turkey, grouse, partridge) is typically game and does not fall under jurisdiction of FSIS as the species are not specifically mentioned in the Federal Poultry Inspection Act—even if they are raised on a farm.
Maryland Department of Ag.
Food Quality Assurance Program
University of Maryland Extension Resources:
Other Extension Resources:
FDA and USDA regulate dairy farms and milk. Milk producers, milk haulers, and milk processors are licensed separately, although they may be the same business
In Maryland, dairy businesses are licensed and inspected by the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene - Office of Food Protection and Consumer Health Services - Division of Milk Control. DHMH Division of Milk Control issues a Milk Processing Plant - Milk Processor license. Regulations for the Division of Milk Control are specified in the FDA Pasteurized Milk Ordinance. There is no Division of Milk Control at the county level because of the technical expertise required.
Dairy farms in Maryland may bottle milk and process other Grade A dairy products.
DHMH licenses value-added dairy products. Butter and yogurt require a Grade A Processor license, cheese requires a Manufacturer Grade Processor license, and ice cream requires a Frozen Dessert license. All dairy products must be produced from pasteurized milk. However, DHMH has launched a Farmstead Cheese Pilot Study Program for producers who make cheese from raw milk aged at least 60 days.
Maryland does not allow raw milk sales.
The Maryland Department of Agriculture licenses and inspects egg producers. For more information, see MDA's requirements document:
MDA Food Quality Assurance Program
FDA and USDA food safety regulations apply to baked goods. Baked goods may be considered hazardous or non-hazardous depending upon specific ingredients. Licenses may restrict recipes, or conversely, specific recipes may require specific licenses
Bakeries are food processing facilities licensed by DHMH. The license may be restricted to processing only certain types of foods based on the facility capacity, equipment, and design.
Home kitchens and on-farm processors may produce only non-potentially hazardous baked goods include baked cakes, muffins, or cookies with a water activity of .85 or less, and fruit pies with an equilibrated pH of 4.6 or less. Baked goods produced in a home kitchen may be sold only at farmers' markets. Baked goods produced under an on-farm home processing license may be sold at any venue in the state.
Raw Fruits and Vegetables
No license is required to sell fresh, whole, raw fruits and vegetables. Increasingly farmers may be required by institutional, retail, and wholesale buyers to be GAP (Good Agricultural Practices) certified. FDA and USDA set grade and pack standards and regulations for large producer/distributors of fruits and vegetables.
Salad greens may present confusion. No license/inspection is required if the product is labeled “wash before eating” and is a whole leaf or plant product, and/or if seeds are mixed at planting (rather than leaves mixed after harvest). A license/inspection is required if leaves are mixed after harvest, the product is cut up or chopped, and the product is labeled “ready to eat.”
Processed Fruits and Vegetables
FDA and USDA food safety regulations apply to processed foods. Processed foods include minimally processed fruits and vegetables (e.g., cut melon, peeled squash, husked corn) jams, salsa, sauces, dried fruits, dried herbs, teas, cider, blended salad greens, condiments and spreads, canned or frozen food, etc. In Maryland, DHMH licenses processors of fruits and vegetables.
In Maryland, home kitchens may produce jams and jellies for sale only at farmers' markets. Home kitchens are not allowed to produce and sell acidified foods. Home kitchens are not licensed or inspected.
On-farm kitchens may produce and sell jams, jellies, and some acidified foods. However, for acidified foods FDA training is required (Better Process School), and a process authority or person who is trained and certified by FDA, must authorize the recipe and process. This food may be sold anywhere in the state.
Maple syrup is licensed seasonally by DHMH.
Honey is a raw agricultural product and no license is required unless it is prepared with added ingredients.
Dried herbs are considered processed food.
For all other food categories contact your state and local officials to learn standards and licensing requirements.