Eastern Ontario Agri-Food Network / Réseau agroalimentaire de l'Est ontarien

Shared Inspected Kitchens

Welcome to the world of food processing and shared inspected kitchens.

The Eastern Ontario Agri-Food Network is working with the City of Cornwall, the United Counties of Stormont-Dundas-Glengarry, and the United Counties of Prescott-Russell to survey and understand the potential need of shared inspected kitchens.

Background

In accordance with Ontario’s food safety regulations, farm produce can be sold by farmers and resellers to the public without further regulatory inspection. But prepared foods can only be sold to the public if handled, processed, packaged, and stored in an inspected and approved food premise or kitchen, except when prepared by a farmers’ market vendor, and a few other exceptions.

For the purpose of this project, prepared foods include foods, meals, and beverages that are processed, mixed, cooked, preserved, baked, packaged for sale to the public including retailers and restaurants. We are excluding from this survey butchered and processed meats, dairy products, and eggs that all have their own regulations and requirements.

A small producer of prepared foods often operates in small volumes in their home kitchen and sells at farmers markets as allowed by the regulatory exemptions. In order to grow their business, a small producer would build or rent their own dedicated commercial inspected kitchen, either at home, on the farm, or in a commercial facility. This represents a significant capital investment and operating costs, and obliges the producer to scale up the production volume and market reach to operate a viable business.

In 2021, the Ontario government modified the Ontario food safety regulations to alleviate the regulatory requirements to produce low-risk foods. With this change, some small food producers may opt to have their family kitchen or some other lower-cost facility inspected for low-risk food production.

The Survey

There remains a cost and regulatory barrier for small food producers trying to sell to the public beyond the exemption for farmers’ market vendors. The solution could be the creation of shared inspected kitchens where small producers could rent space and capacity by the hour or by the day in order to process, package, and store their ingredients and products.

The purpose of this survey is to understand the situation and needs of small food producers with respect to prepared foods, inspected kitchens in general, and potentially shared inspected kitchens.

We ask anyone in the prepared foods sector to answer this survey, including:

  • people just thinking about getting involved in prepared foods,
  • people now preparing foods under the exemption for farmers’ market vendors,
  • people thinking about scaling up their production,
  • people who already have their own inspected kitchen, and
  • people who may opt or have opted for an inspected kitchen for low-risk food production.

Find the survey here. Please complete the survey here by August 31st.



 

This project is developed by the Eastern Ontario Agri-Food Network in collaboration with and with funding from its municipal partners.