Frequently Asked Questions

What products can be made in our facility?

Our facility is approved to process acid and acidified foods for retail sale. We may be able to accommodate fresh, dried and frozen packaged foods on a case-by-case basis. At this time, the cannery is unable to process meat products for retail sale.

What is value-added food?

Value-added food is literally food to which value has been added, either by adding ingredients or by preserving it in some way. A good example would be the transformation of tomatoes into pasta sauce or berries into jam.

What are acid and acidified foods?

The staff of Virginia Food Works is trained in the production of acid and acidified foods.  Acid foods include foods high in natural acids like most fruits and tomatoes. Acidified foods include low acid foods such as cucumbers to which acidic ingredients like vinegar have been added, making the final pickle acidic. We cannot advise on products containing meat or fish.

What is co-packing?

Co-packing, or contract packing is a service we provide where we take your recipe and ingredients and turn them into a finished, retail-ready product. Our staff holds the necessary knowledge and certifications to manufacture products that are in compliance with all applicable regulations.

Is our facility inspected?

Yes, our facility is inspected by the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) to manufacture packaged food products. We are not approved for production of catering, food truck, or other products requiring Virginia Department of Health (VDH) inspection.

What kind of packaging can I use?

Each container and closure (lid) must be suitable for the process used. Most of our canned items are processed using the hot-fill-and-hold method. This method requires a glass jar and a metal lid with a plastisol liner. We prefer continuous thread (CT) lids over lug lids. If you aren’t sure about your container, contact your process authority or jar manufacturer and ask if it is suitable for your production method. Refrigerated foods have a wider range of acceptable containers; it is best to consult with your process authority to choose an appropriate option.

What are labeling requirements?

Our resources page has a lot of information on what is required on food product labels. You may apply the labels yourself or use our services to apply them.

What are product handling and traceability guidelines?

All clients are responsible for safe storage and distribution of their products after they leave the cannery. For shelf-stable goods, a cool dry, and dark storage area is ideal. For refrigerated goods, these items must be kept refrigerated at all times, even during transport.

In general, proper traceability protocol means that the product can be traced “one step forward and one step back.” This means that the client needs to know exactly where each ingredient in the product came from (using product codes) and also where the finished product is sold. It is strongly recommended that any producer of food products have a recall plan in place and run a “mock recall” to test their system. There is much more detailed information on the resources page.

For any inquiries, contact us at info@virginiafoodworks.org

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