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Policies and Frequently Asked Questions

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What services are provided by the Entrepreneurial Program?

The Entrepreneurial Program offers two primary services:

SERVICE A: Product Testing & Processing Recommendations

We will analyze a shelf-stable product sample, classify it (as acid, acidified, water activity controlled, or other) according to Federal and State regulations, and provide processing recommendations.

SERVICE B: Nutritional Information

We use a Nutrition Database to input a product formulation and provide a Nutrition Facts Panel and Ingredient Statement for food products.

Is my product information kept confidential? And do you sign Confidentiality Forms or Non-disclosure Agreement Statements?

The information collected on our form is for classification and nutritional labeling only. We will keep your product information on the computer under password protection for a short time if you request changes or modifications.

For your privacy, we will only provide product information to whom the Process Letter or Nutritional Label was addressed unless we have written authorization to share information with a third party.

The University makes no warranties or guarantees, either expressed or implied, as to the outcome of any services provided, although all reasonable efforts, consistent with the standards of a research university, will be made to give the appropriate recommendations and achieve a successful outcome. Once testing or nutritional label services begin, no refunds are available.

As a public institution and instrumentality of the State of North Carolina, NC State University is subject to N.C. Public Records laws. Records provided to the University may be subject to public disclosure unless an exception applies. Documents that would not be subject to public record disclosure include research data, records, or information of a proprietary nature, as well as information that may be deemed trade secrets and has been marked “confidential” when disclosed to N.C. State University. For more information regarding public records, please visit the Office of General Counsel webpage on public records.

Entrepreneur Initiative for Food (ei4f) Policy for releasing product submission information.

We will only release product information to the person or entity who initiated contact with our laboratory. When a Process Authority Letter, Process Letter, Testing Letter, or Nutritional Facts Panel/Ingredient Statement has been issued, we will only discuss the specifics of the product and test results with the person or entity to whom the letter has been issued.

How do I submit a product to the Entrepreneurial Program for Product Testing & Processing Recommendations and Nutritional Information?

    1. Go to our website.
    2. Fill out & submit the Online Request Form – click “Online Sample Submission Form.” The form will ask for your basic contact information, recipe information, and current product processing information. Please do not send any samples until we have contacted you.
    3. Once you submit the Online Request Form, we will review your Online Request Form & reply with information on the next steps, including how to send a sample, the quantity needed, and pricing information.

Confidentiality Note:
The information collected on our form is for classification and nutritional labeling only. We will keep your product information on the computer under password protection for a short time in case you request changes or modifications.

What is the cost of receiving Product Testing & Processing Recommendations and Nutritional Information from the Entrepreneurial Program?

Each service costs $150. For example, for a product receiving both Product Testing & Processing Recommendations and Nutritional Information, the cost will be $300.

  • When submitting multiple products that may be able to be included in a single process recommendation letter, a discount is only considered for Products Submitted together on the same day. (PRODUCT  TESTING ONLY)

    Submitting products that may be included in a single letter will be charged the $150 fee for a maximum of two flavors/heat levels/etc… (i.e., Products that differ by a single ingredient or change in the quantity of a single ingredient). Any additional products included on the same Process Letter will be charged a reduced fee of $75/product. After evaluating the product submission, we will issue a refund if the reduced price is permissible. 

     Please take a look at the examples below.

    1) BBQ sauce where there is a Mild and Spicy version. These two sauces have the same formulation (base) other than a change in the level of one ingredient (Mild = 1 tsp cayenne powder, Spicy = 1 tbsp cayenne powder).

    2) A hot sauce with a change in pepper type for varying heat levels in a hot sauce (i.e., jalapeno to habanero).

    3) Base (beverages/desserts/etc.) with multiple flavors (differing by one ingredient).

I have reformulated my food product since I received my submission results. Do I have to pay for the resubmission of this reformulated product?

You can send us the reformulation via our Online Request Form. For reformulated products, each service costs $75. For example, for a reformulated product receiving both Product Testing & Processing Recommendations and Nutritional Information, the cost will be $150.

I paid for product testing but did not send the product to the lab. Can I still get a refund if I no longer need the service? I sent in a product for testing or submitted it for Nutritional Labeling and no longer want or need this service. Can I get a refund?

If a refund is requested within 90 days after submission, a refund will be issued. After 90 days, we do not keep credit card information on file for security reasons and cannot issue a refund. Once testing or nutritional label services begin, no refunds are available.

How does The Entrepreneurial Program calculate nutritional Information?

The “Nutrition Facts” panel for a food label can use data from two sources: nutritional analysis or a nutrient database.
Nutritional analysis is when several lots of food are sampled and analyzed in a laboratory. For certain products, this is the only appropriate method. Another way is to calculate the nutritional content using a nutrient database where nutrient analyses on various ingredients are stored in a computer database. Only the second method is available from the Entrepreneurial Program.

Does the Nutritional Information database used by the Entrepreneurial Program work for all food products?

No, your label may be wrong if the ingredients and amounts submitted in the ingredient report are not correct. If you have yet to weigh the ingredients, there may also be mistakes.
Unless otherwise noted, the assumption is that all the ingredients in the formula are present in the product and that there was no cooking loss, breading loss, or added ingredients, such as added frying oil. In some cases, a component does not appear in the database; it is then up to you to furnish that information.
Database calculations, while helpful, are not analyses. We recommend laboratory analysis of your product by a consulting lab that performs nutrient analyses. The database may have different nutritional information for your ingredient (i.e., one brand of catsup may have different nutrients than another brand). Database calculation gives a reasonable approximation of the nutrient value of the submitted formulation. Still, because there are so many factors to consider, it cannot be assumed to be a substitute for laboratory analysis. The choice to use this information on a label is solely yours.

Should I have my product analyzed or use a database calculation?

Calculating nutritional data from a database is usually the easiest and least expensive. The information you provide to the department is entered into the computer to combine these analyses and produce a Nutrition Facts panel for your product.
Laboratory analysis of products for nutritional data is more expensive and time-consuming. The product must be adequately sampled according to FDA protocol and analyzed by chemical methods. In some products, such as fried, salted, or coated products, the amounts of ingredients are difficult to determine, and a laboratory analysis would be necessary.

What if my ingredient does not appear in the database?

Sometimes, an ingredient may not appear in our database. In this case, you will need to contact the ingredient supplier for a “nutrient analysis per 100 grams.” The Nutrition Facts panel from your ingredient will not suffice for this purpose.


What is the Acidified Foods Manufacturing School?

The AFMS course provides instruction primarily for operating supervisors (see 21 CFR 114.10) in the production of acidified foods. The operating supervisor is the person in the plant or kitchen when an acidified preserved food product is processed and packed.

What is an Operating Supervisor of Acidified Foods?

The acidified foods regulation (21 CFR 114.10) defines an operating supervisor. A person who has attended a school approved by the Commissioner for giving instruction in food-handling techniques, food-protection principles, personal hygiene and plant sanitation practices, pH controls, and critical factors in acidification and who has been identified by that school as having satisfactorily completed the prescribed course of instruction.

Does the Acidified Foods Manufacturing School provide the same Certificate of Completion as the Better Process Control School?

Yes, the Acidified Foods Manufacturing School is equivalent to the training received by attending a standard in-person Acidified Foods Only Better Process Control School course.

What is the Acidified Foods Manufacturing School course structure?

The Acidified Foods Manufacturing School is 100% online. Those who complete the Internet course will receive a Certificate of Course Completion to demonstrate they meet the training requirement of the FDA Acidified regulation. This training sequence is equivalent to the training received by attending a standard in-person Better Process Control School course.

Do you offer a 100% online Acidified Foods Manufacturing School?

Yes, the Acidified Foods Manufacturing School is 100% online.

My acidified food operation is very small. Do I still need an Operating Supervisor Certificate of Completion?

Yes, based on the acidified foods regulation, any food company producing acidified products must comply with the regulations. Even if someone only sells ten cans of acidified product in a year, they must comply with the regulations.

Does my AFMS certificate expire, or does it need to be renewed?

No, your Certificate of Completion will never expire. Your Certificate of Completion for the course is good indefinitely.

Can I share my Acidified Foods Manufacturing School online course Moodle ID with someone else?

You cannot share your Moodle ID account information with other people. Each person will have their own Moodle ID. Each participant must pay for and complete the 100% online course before receiving their Operating Supervisor Certificate of Completion.

Do you offer the Acidified Foods Manufacturing School in Spanish?

No, we do not offer the Acidified Foods Manufacturing School in Spanish. But you can look at GMA’s national Better Process Control School course listing for Spanish and other language offerings.


Is my product classified as an acidified food?

It may be. An acidified food (A.F.) is a low-acid food to which acid(s) or acid food(s) are added and which has a finished equilibrium pH of 4.6 or below and a water activity (aw) greater than 0.85 (see 21 CFR 114.3). If your product is formulated with low-acid ingredients to which acid(s) or acid food(s) are added, has a finished equilibrium pH of 4.6 or below, and water activity (aw) greater than 0.85, it is most likely an acidified food. The determination between an ACID PRODUCT or an ACIDIFIED PRODUCT depends on the product formulation — a product with a higher percentage of low-acid ingredients may fall into the acidified classification. To receive product classification, testing, and processing recommendations, please submit to the Food Entrepreneurial Lab by filling out the Online Sample Submission Form.

I am not sure if I am producing an acidified product. How do I find out if my product is classified as an acidified product?

You need to contact a process authority to determine the classification of your product(s). You can submit your product(s) to our process authority by filling out our Online Request Form.
We will help classify your product based on regulations and help you determine the safety parameters for your product(s). Suppose your product is classified as an acidified food. In that case, you must take the Acidified Foods Manufacturing School to get your Operating Supervisor Certificate of Completion to produce your product(s) legally. You can also hire a co-packer who has already received the Operating Supervisor Certificate of Completion.

Is fermented food such as Kimchi, Kombucha, and Sauerkraut an acidified food?

No, it is a fermented food exempt from acidified food regulations.


Who regulates the food I plan to sell?
Two agencies mainly regulate Human food products in North Carolina.

County health departments regulate prepared and ready-to-eat foods under statewide rules adopted by the Dairy and Food Protection Branch of the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

Packaged foods
 are regulated by the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (NCDA&CS). The Meat and Poultry Inspection Division regulate meat and meat-containing products. The Food and Drug Protection Division regulates packaged foods that do not contain meat. Certain seafood and milk products have separate rules.

If I have questions about North Carolina regulations on processing my product or inspections, who should I call?

You should contact the North Carolina Department of Agriculture. You can go to their website or call one of their Food Compliance Officers at 919-733-7366

Can I sell food made in my home kitchen?
The short answer is “maybe.”

The NCDA (Department of Agriculture) regulates and inspects packaged foods in North Carolina. If you are in a different state, you should contact your state’s Department of Agriculture or Health Department before beginning a business to verify your state’s regulations. The NCDA&CS has a list of foods on its website that can and cannot be made in a home kitchen, N.C. Home Processing.

I am making a baked good product. Does this need Product Testing & Processing Recommendations?

Baked goods are typically low-risk food products and do not usually require Product Testing & Processing Recommendations through our lab. Still, the North Carolina Department of Agriculture may require you to submit your product for food safety testing, so check with them.

When is a product required to have a Nutrition Facts Panel on the label?

Nutritional labeling is required on food products but with the following exemptions:
– Retailers with annual gross sales of not more than $500,000 or with annual gross sales of foods to consumers of not more than $50,000 do not need to be filed with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for these exemptions.
– The person claiming the exemption employs fewer than an average of 100 full-time equivalent employees, and fewer than 100,000 units of that product are sold in the United States in a 12-month period. For these exemptions, a notice must be filed annually with FDA.
Even if you fall into one of these exemptions, your consumers, retailers, and distributors may still want to view the nutritional labeling on your product.

Can I produce foods in my home and cater them to other homes or events?

No, catered foods are regulated by local County Health Departments under statewide rules adopted by the Food Protection Program of N.C. Health and Human Services.
An exception to this rule is the preparation of bakery items. The North Carolina Food and Drug Protection Division regulates bakery items. For further information on catering baked items, visit the NCDA&CS website on Starting a Home-Based Food Business.

Who can help me determine whether I can use a home kitchen or have a co-packer produce my product?

Our food scientists and extension associates would be glad to assist in helping you make this decision. However, this is a business decision you should make, and we cannot be held responsible for this decision.

Can I have someone else produce my food for me to sell?

Yes, co-packers or co-manufacturers specialize in this area. There is a list of co-packers on our website under “Other Services & Supplies.”

Do you have a list of co-packers who can help with the production of my product?

We have a list of co-packers we have worked with at some point listed on our website’s “Other Services & Supplies” page.

I am trying to come up with a new product. Would you be able to help me?

Our expertise is in food safety. However, we can refer you to people or companies specializing in product development.

Written By

Nick Fragedakis, N.C. Cooperative ExtensionNick FragedakisProgram Director and Acidified Foods Process Authority Call Nick Email Nick Food, Bioprocessing & Nutrition Sciences
NC State Extension, NC State University
Page Last Updated: 4 months ago
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