The food industry is full of exciting opportunities. If you're just starting out as a fry cook, waiter or even as a technician in a processing plant, there are many ways for you to grow and express your passion for food. At the end of the day, good food is what sustains people, and it is the people behind the food industry that fuel the nation. So let's say you've worked your way up the chain a bit and you want to turn your passion for food into a business venture. Whether that means opening a restaurant, food truck or creating a new line of packaged food products, you're going to need two things: A steadfast work ethic and good knowledge of government regulations. The first will propel you to success and the second will ensure your business can compete in the marketplace.
Let's demystify some of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) rules and regulations for new food businesses.
Understanding the Legalese Behind Healthy Food
Starting a new business can be exciting, especially when it's in an industry you really care about. But when you're in a world of flavors and gourmet experiences, FDA regulations can seem like a bit of a drag. But those rules are in place to keep everyone safe and healthy, and to keep the marketplace fair.
Everything starts with the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act of 1938. The laws therein have been amended throughout the decades, but at its core, this act defines what is food, what is safe for consumption and – a more recent addition – what businesses must do to prevent bioterrorism. Additionally, your new business will be subject to Title 21 of the U.S. Code. This is where things start to get complicated, but don't let that stop you from following your dreams! As you start your business, having good legal counsel will keep you on the right footing. But having a basic understanding of the law is extremely beneficial.
Some regulations may change depending on your state of residence, so it's best to do a bit of research in that regard – especially if your business involves the sale of liquor. Otherwise, food processing plants will be subject to the recently passed Food Safety Modernization Act, which aims to prevent food contamination and the spread of illnesses. Having some knowledge of these laws will make this process easier for you.
Understanding The Importance of Recordkeeping
Aside from the actual process of safely manufacturing, producing, or cooking safe food, recordkeeping is a valuable habit to cultivate. The laws mentioned above have several provisions regarding good record keeping, and any small business owner should be well aware of these regulations. Records are not only a way for you to keep track of the monetary side of your operations, but they can track any health and safety related issues. If a problem does occur, good records will be instrumental in curbing the issue before it becomes worse.
Protecting Your Passion for Food
In addition to producing safe food products, you'll also want to keep your staff safe as well. Workers' compensation costs are on the rise and could fatally harm a fledgling business. By making safety a priority, you'll be able to foster a great working environment. This is where you'll need to pay attention to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) guidelines. Those rules cover everything from the tools and machinery you use, to the safety equipment required of your staff. You'll need to wear hair nets, slip-resistant shoes, gloves and other protective gear meant to protect you and your products.
Following these regulations will help your passion for food reach thousands of people. Even if you're just starting out in the industry, it's a good time to start familiarizing yourself with these helpful FDA and OSHA guidelines.