Food Safety - Food Frequently Asked Questions

What about Canned/Jarred/Bottled foods products?

  • Canned/Jarred/Bottled foods products that are sold directly to the end consumer by the producer are SCDHEC regulated and will require a Retail Food Establishment permit and a special process variance.
  • Canned/Jarred/Bottled foods products that are processed and marketed for re-sale/wholesale are regulated by SCDA (803-737-9690), or the FDA (843-746-2990).
  • Canned/Jarred/Bottled foods (including most jams, jellies, sauces, chow-chows and pickled foods) must be sent to Clemson University (864-359-3386), NC State University, or another FDA-recognized process authority for product analysis as part of the approval process.
  • Depending on the results of the product analysis, a Better Process Control School (BPCS) training and FDA Registration (product and facility filing) may be necessary.
  • For assistance with product analysis and label reviews go to Clemson’s Food2Market.
  • *Home-canned foods are considered hazardous and illegal and cannot be sold*

What about Mobile Food?

  • Mobile food unit operations are required to be permitted and to operate in conjunction with a permitted commissary and required to return to the base daily for servicing. The commissary must meet the necessary standards in regulation 61-25 for the menu items served from the unit. Items normally required at the commissary are a preparation and cleaning area for food and food contact items.
  • The general requirements for operating a mobile unit are in the regulation, Chapter 9-1. You may wish to contact the regional Environmental Health Services office in your area for assistance in assessing your ability to meet the commissary and mobile unit requirements. Please be aware that you should also check with local zoning officials to see if you may operate a business out of your home if your commissary will be located at your home.

What is a Commissary?

  • A commissary is a permitted retail food establishment that is authorized by the Department to provide support of operations, storage, and servicing area for mobile food units or mobile food pushcarts, and is constructed and operated in compliance with the requirements of the regulation and standard.
  • Mobile food units and mobile pushcarts shall return to the commissary after each day of operation and shall be stored onsite at the commissary.
  • The commissary is needed to supply water from an approved source and the proper wastewater disposal into an approved sewage system as well as cleaning and storage functions.

What about Catering from Home?

  • Catering operations are required to obtain retail food establishment permit prior to opening. They must meet the same standards as all retail food service.
  • Please see the Good Manufacturing Practices Guide and small business fact sheet which will help you meet the requirements of the regulation. The local Bureau of Environmental Health Services Food Program Team Leader can also assist you with permit requirements and for assistance in assessing the ability to convert an area in your home into a commercial type kitchen. This kitchen must be separate from the one that you and your family uses to prepare meals. Please be aware that you should also check with local zoning officials to see if you may operate a business out of your home.

What about retail Bakeries at Home?

  • A retail bakery operation located at a home is required to obtain a retail food permit prior to opening. The retail baking kitchen must be separate from the kitchen used for home cooking and must meet the same standards as all retail food service.
  • If the plan is to sell to other permitted facilities like convenience stores or restaurants (wholesale) instead of directly to the end consumer (retail), the SC Department of Agriculture should be contacted for instructions and requirements. Please be aware that local zoning officials should be contacted to see if a retail food business may be operated at your home.
  • If the house used for the bakery operation is also your dwelling, you may be exempt from permit requirements by Chapter 8-301.12(A)(12) if the operation meets the criteria of the home based food production law.

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Food Safety