Cannery Inspection Program - Food and Drug Branch
Scientists classify foods based on particular characteristics. Foods such as vegetables, milk, meats, 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 containers (such as; cans, pouches, jars, or other air-tight sealed containers) they can produce botulism toxin when stored at room temperatures. However, these foods can be safely made 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 for 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 Program. Low acid food processors (Canneries) must comply with California and federal requirements. Canneries are required to obtain a Cannery License that is renewed every two years. Canneries engaged in general food processing activities must also obtain a Processed Food Registration (PFR). Canneries that need a PFR are not required to pay for both license fees. However, canneries must still pay for costs associated with inspections.
Information regarding the PFR program and other food safety information may be found at FDB's Food Safety Program page.