Home-Based Food Processors in New Mexico

The New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) review board approved changes to the regulations to allow home-based food processing for non-potentially hazardous foods. These regulations take effect January 1st, 2010 require home-based food processors to have attended a department-approved food safety course in addition to an annual permit and inspection. Home-based food products can be sold only through Farmer's markets, roadside stands, festivals in which the processors sells directly to the consumer.

A home-based food-processing permit must be displayed at processing site and location where product is sold. Additionally packaged product must have a label with the words "Home Processed" as well as the following:

  • The name, street address, city, state and zip code of the manufacturer;
  • An accurate statement of the net amount of food in the package, in terms of weight measure, volume measure (listed in both "English" and metric units) or numerical count;
  • The common or usual name of the food contained in the package; and
  • Ingredients of the food, listed by their common names, in order of their predominance by weight.
  • Nutritional panel information if a nutritional or health claim is made, such as "low fat" or "heart healthy".

Non-potentially hazardous food will not support the growth of pathogenic microorganisms at room temperatures; have a pH of 4.6 or less; have a water activity of 0.85 or less. Examples of these products are traditional baked goods (no cream filled or sour cream frosting), hard candy (non-chocolate), nuts, honey, dried beans, chile and herbs, traditional high sugar jams and jelly products. Other provisions of the regulation control acidified and low acid foods as well as jerky products. A process authority can evaluate products that are not clearly classified by this definition, who are available at New Mexico State University and other state universities.

Home-based food processing does limit household operations. Family cooking, pets, children and "non-employees" are restricted during food processing operations. Strict sanitation procedures of utensils, processing equipment and food contact surfaces as well as the sink must be followed as outlined in a detailed plan submitted by the food processor to NMED. Additionally these procedures apply to vehicles transporting product.

Home-based food processors are not required to have the same equipment as commercial food processors. Equipment such as a blender does not need to be commercial grade or certified. A three-compartment sink is not required nor are there specific requirements for flooring in the kitchen or self-closing doors for exterior entrances or toilet room. Furthermore, there are no requirements to maintain refrigerated temperatures below 45 degrees F.

More information related to these regulations can be found at State Records Center and Archives.

New Mexico State University extension food technology program can provide assistance in product development, food safety, nutritional panel labeling and food product and process review. See the Food Technology Program web site for more information.