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South Carolina Food Laws and Regulations: How to sell foods in South Carolina

South Carolina Food Laws, Regulations and Facts

If you do not meet the requirements of the South Carolina cottage food law, Cottage Bill (SC 44-1-143 H): you may still be able to make and sell the foods you make, but only if you follow the specific requirements below.

First check to see if you meet the definition of a Home-Based Food Producer.  If not, see below:

Manufacturing, packaging and selling a food product in South Carolina

To manufacture, package and sell a food product in South Carolina, which is under the jurisdiction of the South Carolina Department of Agriculture (SCDA). must meet the following regulations:

  1. Prepared in a SC approved facility, like a licensed commercial kitchen, or through a copacker.  (Note: a home kitchen is not an approved facility).
    See this page for commercial kitchens in South Carolina.
  2. Training: You and your food handling employees may need ServSafe training.  See the training section below.
  3. Registered using a Registration Verification Certificate, which initiates an inspection by SCDA to verify the safety of your facility and food production process and that it meets all state and federal regulations.
  4. Labels: Your product label has been reviewed by SCDA.
  5. Inspections: Complies with regular unannounced inspections of your facility and process by SCDA.
  6. Testing may be required, such as pH, Water Activity, Moisture, Microbiological Testing, etc.. See this food product testing decision tree. Also see the  SC Product Testing Form and SC Product Testing Fact Sheet
  7. Additional regulations may be required depending on the type of food product that you are producing.

 

Definitions:

  • "Home-based food production operation" means an individual, operating out of the individual's dwelling, who prepares, processes, packages, stores, and distributes nonpotentially hazardous foods for sale directly to a person.
  • "Nonpotentially hazardous foods" are candy and baked goods that are not potentially hazardous foods.
  •  "Person" means an individual consumer.
  •  "Potentially hazardous foods" includes:
    (a) an animal food that is raw or heat-treated; a plant food that is heat-treated or consists of raw seed sprouts; cut melons; cut leafy greens; cut tomatoes or mixtures of cut tomatoes not modified to prevent microorganism growth or toxin formation; garlic-in-oil mixtures not modified to prevent microorganism growth or toxin formation;
    (b) certain foods that are designated as Product Assessment Required (PA) because of the interaction of the pH and Aw values in these foods. Below is a table indicating the interaction of pH and Aw for control of spores in food heat-treated to destroy vegetative cells and subsequently packaged.
    South Carolina Cottage Foods Potentially hazardous foods
    Foods in Item 2 in the table above with a pH value greater than 5.6 and foods in item (3) with a pH value greater than 4.6 are considered potentially hazardous unless a product assessment is conducted pursuant to the 2009 Federal Drug Administration Food Code.
  • DHEC Defines Candy As:
    Candies and confectioneries (confectioneries are candies, delicacies or sweets that have sugar as a principal ingredient, combined with coloring matter and/or flavoring). Candies have low water content and do not require refrigeration for safety.
    Candy coated nuts
    Candy coated dried fruits
    Candy coated popcorn
    Cotton candy
    Candy apples
    Popcorn balls
    Chocolate-covered high-acid uncooked fruits such as strawberries, cranberries, or cherries are considered non-potentially hazardous.
  • DHEC Defines a Baked Good As:
    Loaf breads
    Rolls
    Biscuits
    Baked cookies
    Baked granola
    Baked cakes
    Baked high-acid fruit pies (apple, apricot, grape, peach, plum, quince, orange, nectarine, blackberry, raspberry, boysenberry, cherry, cranberry, strawberry, red currants). NOTE: These products are not allowed unless product testing demonstrates that these products are non-potentially hazardous - therefore not requiring refrigeration for safety.

Licensing

In South Carolina, Food Production Law is overseen by SCDHEC. As noted above, the kitchen and foods must be registered, inspected and a permit issued by SCDHEC.

You must also get a business license for tax purposes.

You should also check with local zoning requirements

Training

ServSafe® food safety training uses material from the National Restaurant Association (NRA) and is taught by Clemson University Extension Agents who are Registered ServSafe® Proctors and Certified ServSafe® Instructors by the NRA. There are different levels and types of training and courses offered, online and in person. Below is a brief overview. Contact Frances Seel at [email protected] for more information. Prices below are from March 2021.

  • Manager Training & Exam - 1 day (7.5 hours) $135 per person. This course is Appropriate for restaurant managers and assistant managers, chefs, dietitians, culinary arts instructors, school food service managers, Family and Consumer Science instructors, and others. The ServSafe® Manager 7th Edition Book that accompanies this course should be purchased here.
  • ServSafe® Food Handler Course and Exam, 4 hours - $40 per person. Participants who successfully complete this ANSI ASTM 2659 accredited Food Handler course and 40-question exam, graded by the National Restaurant Association, will receive a ServSafe® Food Handler Certificate
  • ServSafe® Exam Only - $75 per person if taken with already scheduled training. This option is for food service professionals who have previously been ServSafe® certified and are looking to renew their certificate without additional training.
  • Employee Training - ServSafe® Food Handler Course. 4 hours - $25 per person. This course is taught using the ServSafe® Food Handler Guide book.

General Safety Recommendations (independent of the above)

Beyond the requirements, common sense, good practices and reducing liability suggests you should do the following.

Testing of pH

​It's best to use a pH meter, properly calibrated on the day used. I use this one, which is reliable and inexpensive. And this pH meter is really good, but isn't always available.
Short-range paper pH test strips, commonly known as litmus paper, may be used instead, if the product normally has a pH of 4.0 or lower and the paper's range includes a pH of 4.6.

Record-keeping is suggested

Keep a written record of every batch of product made for sale, including:

  • ​Recipe, including procedures and ingredients
  • Amount canned and sold
  • Canning date
  • Sale dates and locations
  • Gross sales receipts
  • Results of any pH test

Sanitation

Although inspections are not required, you should consider doing the following:

  • ​Use clean equipment that has been effectively sanitized prior to use
  • Clean work surfaces and then sanitize with bleach water before and after use
  • Keep ingredients separate from other unprocessed foods
  • Keep household pets out of the work area
  • Keep walls and floors clean
  • Have adequate lighting
  • Keep window and door screens in good repair to keep insects out
  • Wash hands frequently while working
  • Consider annual testing of water if using a private well

Best Practices

  • Allergens:  Most state home baking acts require an "ingredient statement" and/or an "allergen listing" on the label of the bakery item for sale; but if your state does not, you should anyway. The eight major food allergens are
    • milk,
    • eggs,
    • fish,
    • crustacean shellfish,
    • tree nuts,
    • peanuts,
    • wheat and
    • soybean.
  • Cross-allergenicity: There are also ingredients available, even flours, that can cause a cross-allergenicity. The American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology explains cross-allergenicity as an allergic reaction when proteins in one substance are similar to the proteins found in another substance. For example, consumption of lupine flour may trigger an allergic reaction to peanuts, and cricket flour may trigger an allergic reaction to shellfish. Again, providing such information might be a beneficial marketing tool and help keep potential consumers safe.
  • The 2 Hour/4 Hour Rule -  Anyone wishing to make and sell refrigerated bakery items should remember to follow the "2 Hour/4 Hour Rule." This is a system that can be implemented when potentially hazardous foods are out of temperature control (temperatures greater than 45 degrees Fahrenheit) during preparation, serving or display for sale. The rule guidelines are as follows:
    • If a potentially hazardous food has been out of temperature control for 2 hours or less, then it may continue to be used or be placed back in the refrigerator.
    • If a potentially hazardous food has been out of temperature control for more than 2 hours but less than 4 hours, it needs to be used quickly or discarded.
    • If a potentially hazardous food has been out of temperature control for more than 4 hours, it must be discarded.

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