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Make Sure Homemade Foods Are Safe to Sell

Take food safety precautions when preparing food you plan to sell.

Don’t let your homemade foods make your customers sick.

If you plan to sell food you processed, canned or baked at home, you need to take some food safety precautions. Use up-to-date equipment and research-tested food preparation methods, North Dakota State University Extension Service food and nutrition specialist Julie Garden-Robinson advises.

“Heat processing home-canned foods properly, practicing safe food-handling techniques and using recipes that have been tested for safety are essential,” she says. “Otherwise, bacteria or their toxins can result in potentially deadly forms of food poisoning.”

The North Dakota Department of Health recently clarified its policies about the homemade foods people can sell, according to Kenan Bullinger, director of the department’s Division of Food and Lodging. He says people may sell home-canned, processed or baked goods that are not potentially hazardous.

In general, saleable items are pickles, vegetables and fruits with an equilibrium pH value of 4.6 or lower and baked goods that don’t require refrigeration. A pH (acidity level) of 4.6 or lower prevents the growth of Clostridium botulinum spores and the production of its toxin. You should have commercial laboratories test your canned food products to determine their acidity.

Some home-processed or canned foods you can’t sell are fish, poultry, garlic and oil mixtures or other flavored oils, and meat and dairy products, including smoked fish, butter, raw milk and jerky. Home-baked goods you can’t sell include custard-filled pastries, meringue-topped pies, kuchen, and cream or pumpkin pies because they require refrigeration.

The Health Department restricts the sale of allowable foods to community or nonprofit events such as county fairs, charitable events, community celebrations and farmers markets or roadside stands in North Dakota. You can’t sell these foods at craft shows, food festivals or other for-profit events; to other businesses; in other states; on the Internet; or from your home or business.

When you sell allowable foods, you need to display a sign that states: “These canned goods/baked goods are homemade and not subject to state or local health inspection.”

“The NDSU Extension Service has information to help you make sure your food is safe to sell,” Garden-Robinson says.

That information is available online at http://www.ag.ndsu.edu/ndsuag/food.

Your local NDSU Extension Service office also is a source of information on preparing and preserving foods safely. Extension agents from throughout the state completed hands-on food preservation training in June on the NDSU campus.

For more details on the state’s exemptions for home-processed, canned and baked foods, contact Bullinger at (701) 328-1291 or toll-free at (800) 472-2927.

NDSU Agriculture Communication - June 15, 2011

Source:Julie Garden-Robinson, (701) 231-7187, julie.garden-robinson@ndsu.edu
Editor:Ellen Crawford, (701) 231-5391, ellen.crawford@ndsu.edu
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