FDPD - Food Program - Commercial

Starting a non-home based commercial food processing facility

Step 1. Federal Compliance

All food processors, both low and high risk, must comply with the GMP regulations in 21 CFR Part 117 as adopted in the North Carolina Administrative Code.

Step 2. State Compliance

Additionally, some higher risk food production facilities must meet additional regulations. Please contact the Food & Drug Protection Division at (984) 236-4820 to determine additional regulations or requirements that might be necessary.

Step 3. Check local license and zoning information

County government links: www.ncinfo.iog.unc.edu/library/counties.html
City or town government links: www.ncinfo.iog.unc.edu/library/cities.html

Step 4. Well water inspection

If your only water source is from a well, the water must be tested for coliform bacteria before an inspection is made. Have the test report ready for the inspection.

Step 5. Obtain an inspection

Contact the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services' Food and Drug Protection Division at (919) 733-7366 to obtain a copy of the regulations and arrange for an inspection of the facility.

Step 6. Food product labels

Any products to be sold as consumer self-service type items must be packaged to protect them from contamination. A label must be affixed to the package bearing the common or usual name of the product, a declaration of ingredients in descending order of predominance, the name and complete address of the firm or party responsible for the manufacture of the product, a declaration of the net quantity of contents, and nutrition labeling information unless otherwise exempt. Some food product labels may also be required to bear product coding and other statements related to product storage. Food product labels that do not conform to all required labeling regulations may be deemed misbranded.

Key Contacts:
Food Compliance Office 
Telephone: (984) 236-4820
Fax: (919) 831-1323


Other steps in creating a business:
File for a tax number

There are several types of tax numbers. If a business is planning to have sales, a Sales & Use Tax number (AS/RP1 form) is required. Businesses having employees are required to obtain a Federal Employer Identification number (SS-4 form) along with a N.C. withholding tax number. The N.C. Business License Information Office can provide application forms to businesses for these numbers.

Register business name

The type of business structure determines where a business name (assumed name) should be registered. A Certificate of Assumed Name for sole proprietorships and partnerships must be filed with the Register of Deeds in the county or counties where businesses plan to operate. Corporations or Limited Liability Companies must register their business names with the N.C. Secretary of State, Corporations Division.

Food product labels

All food products in package form must conform to required label information that includes product name, net weight, ingredient listing, manufacturer/distributor name and address, and nutrition information. Some food product labels may also be required to bear product coding and other statements related to product storage. Food product labels that do not conform to all required labeling regulations may be deemed misbranded.

N.C. State University Food Science Department can assist N.C. residents in developing food nutrition labels. For more information, go to: http://ncsu.edu/foodscience/extension_program/food_product_testing.html

Apply for a UPC Code

Many retailers now require a Uniform Product Code (UPC) for each product they carry. A UPC code allows automated checkout stands to read the name of the manufacturer and the specific product from the bar code.

The Uniform Code Council, Inc. (UCC) is the central management and information center for manufacturers, distributors and retailers participating in the UPC system. This organization is not a government agency. It is an administrative council which exists specifically to develop standard product and shipping container codes, control the issuing of company identification codes, provide detailed information and to coordinate the efforts of all participants. Although membership in the UCC is voluntary, it is required to obtain a UPC identification number.

Uniform Code Council, Inc.
Suite 300
7887 Washington Village Dr.
Dayton, OH 45459
(937) 435-3870

Marketing assistance

Create your own free Web page at the NCDA&CS General Store. The General Store is a one stop directory for finding North Carolina Agricultural goods and services.

Goodness Grows in North Carolina (GGINC) is an identification and promotional program designed to heighten awareness about North Carolina agriculture and boost sales by helping consumers, retailers, and wholesalers to easily identify top-quality products that are grown, processed, or manufactured in our state. To find out more, go to the GGINC Web site.

Other resources

NC State Food Science Department's Guide for Small Food Processors in North Carolina

Business Link North Carolina 
Office of Business & Entrepreneurial Services

N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services' Marketing Division Agribusiness Development Office

FDA Good Manufacturing Practices Guidelines