Going Legit, Part 5: Selling Your Food Through Grocery Stores

or coconut grater.

Part five of a series in which SFoodie asks the question: With the Underground Market now shut down, what would it take for San Francisco's aspiring food microventures to go legit?

The shelves at grocery stores like Rainbow, Bi-Rite, and Canyon Market are packed with local products from small vendors. The Haight Street Whole Foods even has an initiative that helps street-food vendors go pro. So how does a former Underground Market vendor like Salsa Delfina, whom SFoodie interviewed for this series last week, get her grandmother's salsa into those stores?

First, of course, she has to have a certified kitchen, not to mention business permits and liability insurance. (The seller's permit we mentioned in part 1 wouldn't be necessary.) Then she has to have all her equipment gathered together, and have packaging and labels designed.

After that, she needs to apply for California processed food registration, sometimes called a “food processor's permit.”

According to an email from Patrick Kennelly, chief of the California Department of Public Health's Food Safety Section, “In order to obtain a Processed Food Registration, the firm must submit a completed application along with the appropriate registration fee. Once received, the department will schedule an inspection of the commercial facility used to process the food to verify substantial compliance with applicable statutes and regulations (i.e., employee hygiene, facility and equipment design, sanitary practices, food handling practices, etc.). Once found to be in substantial compliance, the firm's registration will be issued and they may begin operations.”

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