If you enjoy cooking and have an interest in developing your own business, you may be interested in making a food product and selling it to the public. Friends may have complimented the foods you have prepared, or you have some unique foods or ingredients that, if manufactured and marketed properly, could enable you to begin a business venture.
Like any small business, food enterprises require careful planning, dedication and skilled management to be successful. The food business is unique when compared to most other types of businesses, as you are involved in a venture that can have a direct effect on your customers’ health and safety. You must comply with a number of complex and often confusing federal, state and local regulations when making and selling food products. Competition is intense in the food business. It is extremely difficult to have a product accepted by a major grocery chain or nationwide food establishments. Owning your own business can be very exciting. It also requires a lot of hard work and commitment, is very time-consuming and technical knowledge of foods is a necessity. The words “food-borne illness” should send a shiver down the spine of anyone who operates a food business. Whether caused by E. Coli, listeria, salmonellae, staphylococci, botulism or any number of other disease-producing microorganisms, food-borne illness can destroy a successful business in a matter of hours.
“Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold” is a good rule of thumb for food safety. Do not serve any foods that have not been kept at their recommended cold or hot temperature ranges until serving time. Most bacteria that cause illness thrive in the range between 40 degrees and 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Once hot foods have cooled to a temperature that’s within this range, they need to be reheated above 165 degrees F. Refrigeration will slow the growth of bacteria, but it will not kill them. Potentially hazardous foods include those that contain meat, fish, poultry, eggs and milk products.
This publication outlines the steps and ideas you need to consider before starting a food or food-ingredient business. It is written for food manufacturing businesses and does not address the general feasibility considerations that concern all businesses (i.e., production practices, finances, markets, location, competitors, daily management, etc.). As a potential business entrepreneur, you should strongly examine the feasibility of the business, in addition to the specific points covered in this publication.
"PB1399 Getting Started in a Food Manufacturing Business in Tennessee," The University of Tennessee Agricultural Extension Service, 05-0228 PB1399-__-6/05(Rev) E12-4815-00-004-05, http://trace.tennessee.edu/utk_agexfood/41