New Law Brings Changes to the State's Domestic Kitchen Program

Friday, May 25, 2012 | 10:37 am

Inspections, permits no longer required for individuals selling baked goods, jams and jellies produced in home kitchens with proper signage

KNOXVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam recently signed into law a bill that brings changes to how foods produced in home kitchens are regulated. The changes are effective immediately.

The new law allows Tennesseans who manufacture for sale non-potentially hazardous foods – baked goods, candy, jams and jellies, for example – in a home kitchen to forgo inspection and permitting by the Tennessee Department of Agriculture Regulatory Services Division.

Individuals who choose to forgo inspection under the new law must display signage alerting consumers. However, all home kitchen food manufacturers, permitted or not, are still required to label products using the common name of ingredients by predominance and to provide a net quantity statement.

"The intent of the new law is to allow home kitchen manufacturers to offer certain foods without regulatory oversight by posting appropriate notice to consumers," TDA Regulatory Services director Jimmy Hopper said. "However, the department still provides an opportunity for home or domestic kitchen manufacturers to become licensed in order to demonstrate a level of competency and to provide some assurance to their customers regarding food safety."

"Previously, food manufacturers wishing to manufacture non-potentially hazardous foods such as baked goods, candy, jams and jellies in their domestic kitchen were required to receive certification in a food safety course and adhere to all regulations outlined in Chapter 0080-4-11, including to be permitted as a food manufacturer in order to sell their goods throughout the state," said Dr. Faith Critzer, University of Tennessee assistant professor of Food Science and Technology and UT Extension food safety specialist.

Now individuals who manufacture non-potentially hazardous foods may sell them without inspection or permits at their residence, community social events, flea markets and farmers markets located in the state, but they must display an 8.5-by-11-inch sign with 0.75-inch font at the place of sale stating, "These food products were made in a private home not licensed or inspected." Other stipulations such as product labeling requirements can be found in the legislation, SB3547/HB3302.

Domestic kitchen manufacturers still can request to have their kitchen inspected and permitted by the TDA Regulatory Services Division. Products manufactured in a licensed domestic kitchen may be offered for sale and marketed through any venue such as grocery stores or restaurants.

"Farmers market managers also may elect to require vendors to manufacture foods for sale in an inspected and permitted facility," Critzer continued. "Your facility and practices would need to meet all the requirements outlined in Chapter 0080-4-11 regulations for establishments utilizing domestic kitchen facilities for bakery and other non-potentially hazardous foods intended for sale."

While under the new law domestic kitchen manufacturers are not required to undergo inspection and permitting, they will be held liable if their product causes someone to become ill with food poisoning or have an allergic reaction because of improper labeling.

And although food safety training is no longer required for domestic kitchen manufacturers under the new law, it is highly encouraged by state food safety officials.

"The training educates participants on the principles of food microbiology and how to safely manufacture foods," said Critzer. "This knowledge can be pertinent for individuals who are new to manufacturing food or even for those who have been around the food manufacturing or food service industries for some time."

Training is offered by the University of Tennessee Department of Food Science and Technology in classes taught throughout the state as well as online. More information is available at http://tiny.utk.edu/kitchencert.

Training topics covered include an introduction to food microbiology, good manufacturing practices, cleaning and sanitation, hazard analysis and critical control points, allergens, and product labeling.

For more information about training, contact Nancy Austin in the Department of Food Science and Technology at 865-974-7717 or naustin@utk.edu.

UT Extension provides a gateway to the University of Tennessee as the outreach unit of the Institute of Agriculture. With an office in every Tennessee county, UT Extension delivers educational programs and research-based information to citizens throughout the state. In cooperation with Tennessee State University, UT Extension works with farmers, families, youth and communities to improve lives by addressing problems and issues at the local, state and national levels.