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This guide is provided by the Iowa State University Extension Value Added Agriculture program as a tool to provide guidance in the development of a food business in the state of Iowa. A food business has specific issues and factors that are directly affected by state, federal and local regulations, laws, and food safety guidelines that should always be completely understood and examined by an entrepreneur. Additionally, it is equally important that the entrepreneur understand where they can get assistance in answering their questions regarding the laws surrounding the preparation and sale of food products.
For instance, will you be selling your food product at a farmers’ market, direct to consumers, or will you sell the product online? Each of the various marketing channels has various regulations. You must be familiar with the labeling and handling requirements as well what items can or cannot be sold in those channels. Thorough research should be undertaken before you begin a food business, so that you completely understand the regulations and have the tools to make your business successful.
Business issues, such as labeling, marketing and handling are unique within the food business sector, so it is vital to thoroughly research all facets of the food business prior to doing business. This guide was developed to help you understand the laws and regulations and to also provide contact information and leads to the technical and resource service providers who can further assist in the development of a food business.
This guide should be used as a beginning resource and proper consultation and advice should always be obtained from the organization or agency that has jurisdiction over the specific topic that is applicable.
It is suggested that you read through the guide to locate areas which you feel you might need additional information or training. As you begin to understand those areas, you will develop questions and may need assistance. As you go through the guide, keep notes about your questions or highlight areas that you have a desire to learn more about. Then, bring those notes with you when meeting with one of the staff members in the Extension Value Added Agriculture Program. They can assist you in locating additional information in those topics, and make sure that you have a good understanding of the process. Their professional staff can direct you to the regulatory offices and to service providers who can further assist you, or they can help you in developing your food business ideas and help guide you in the implementation process.
The Value Added Ag staff can provide technical and business development assistance in many ways. They can assist you in developing a business plan, help with a feasibility study, or direct you to the proper resource providers who can provide specific assistance to you in the development of your food product.
For more information or assistance contact the Iowa State University Extension Value Added Agriculture office at (515) 294-9483.