University of Maryland Extension


“Food processing” is the treatment of a food substance to change its properties with the intention of preserving it, improving its quality, or making it functionally more useful. Food processing regulations are very specific for each food and/or process. A fruit or vegetable is considered “processed” as soon as the protective outer layer of the skin or husk is broken, exposing it to pathogens. A melon cut in half is “processed” because the flesh of melon is exposed to bacteria as soon as it is cut. Therefore cutting melon in half before it is sold must be done in an inspected food processing facility. Meat is “processed” once the animal is no longer alive. Killing and packaging of an animal as food is governed by food processing regulations. Pasteurizing milk is food processing. Making cheese from raw milk is food processing. On-farm food processing is food processing done on the farm with food produced on the farm.

Before you invest in food processing, contact the authorities that have jurisdiction over your product, process, and distribution. Learn whether or not a license is required, the standards for any required license, and the limitations of the license. Get this information in writing. Do not proceed on the basis of a conversation with one person or on the basis of information on a website. Confirm your plans with appropriate state and/or federal agencies.


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