Cannery Inspection Program - Food and Drug Branch
Scientists classify foods based on particular characteristics. Foods such as vegetables, milk, meat, and seafood are considered “low-acid foods” because they have naturally low acid levels. The acidity of a food can relate to its safety and should be a concern for food processors.
Low-acid foods have pH (acid) values greater than 4.6 and water activity (aw) greater than 0.85. Low-acid foods are important because when they are processed and placed into sealed/air-tight containers such as cans, pouches, or jars, and not stored under temperature control, they can allow the growth of Clostridium botulinum, the organism that causes botulism.
The foods can be made safely when processed with proper heat or acidification. Low-acid food products must receive prior evaluation and approval from the Food and Drug Branch (FDB) to determine the need or acidification or thermal processing. Certain food products, such as herbs or vegetables in olive oil, can only be manufactured safely by the addition of an acidifying agent.
Low –acid foods are regulated by FDB’s Cannery Inspection Program. Low-acid food processors (canneries) must comply with California and federal requirements. Canneries are required to operate under a valid Cannery License that is renewed every two years. Canneries engaged in general food processing activities must also operate under a valid Processed Food Registration (PFR). Canneries that need a PFR are not required to pay both license fees, however canneries must pay costs associated with cannery inspections.
Information about the PFR requirements can be found on the PFR webpage.
Information about the requirements for operating a cannery can be found below.