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Permits: Specialty Food Products

Specialty food products include candies, jellies, jams, preserves, pickles, relish, barbecue sauce, packaged foods, salsa, soft drinks, and other products.The photo shows a two-tiered shelving unit displaying various canned items.
Getting the necessary approvals to legally sell or distribute a specialty food product in South Carolina is not an easy or overnight process. Quality control standards are strict.

Depending on what kind of product you want to sell, you will need one or more permits, and you must meet the same facility and food handling and manufacturing process requirements as any other food manufacturer. In some cases, you may need to get approvals from more than one government agency. For instance:

  • If you want to make a product that you will sell directly to the consumer, you will need to have a separate kitchen and meet all other regulatory requirements to qualify for a DHEC retail food establishment permit. You will also need to provide additional information on the processing of the product and may need to meet the requirements of the S.C. Department of Agriculture and/or the S.C. Meat & Poultry Inspection Department.
  • Non-cheese dairy products, soft drinks and water products are also regulated by DHEC. Call (803) 896-0644 for more information.
  • Shellfish products are regulated by DHEC. For more information, call (843) 846-1030.
  • If you want to sell your food product wholesale, to stores, restaurants or other retail vendors, you must meet all requirements for food producers under the S.C. Food and Cosmetics Act, which is administered by the S.C. Department of Agriculture.
  • If you want to produce a specialty food containing meat or poultry in the ingredients, you must comply with regulations administered by the S.C. Meat & Poultry Inspection Department, part of Clemson University’s Livestock, Poultry Health program.
  • If you want to produce and sell a meat or poultry specialty product in other states, you will need to contact the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
  • If your product contains alcohol, you will need to contact the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, which is part of the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

Other Helpful Websites

Learn more about becoming an approved vendor for WIC, the federal Women's, Infants and Children nutritional supplement program.
See Clemson Extension's site on proper, safe techniques for home canning.