University of Maryland Extension

Rules for Specific Foods

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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.

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