commercial-kichen Cold filling hot sauce in facility with no cannery license?

Hey everyone! I had a question that I am hoping some more experienced hot sauce makers could shed some light on.
 
How is it possible to produce and bottle hot sauce in a rented commercial kitchen in squeeze plastic bottles without the need of a cannery license?
 
One of the commercial kitchens I did my first production run in recently posted a picture of a hot sauce company filling clear plastic squeeze bottles with hot sauce, and that hot sauce brand is sitting on shelves in NY Whole Foods. 
 
I was super confused because I've been on a very expensive and confusing quest to get my proper licensing and permits in place for cannery in order to produce a hot sauce the "correct" and "legal" way, and this has been the biggest blocker for me. I know for a fact that this commercial kitchen does not have a cannery license since I worked with them before and also confirmed again with them today. I also know that this company's hot sauce is not hot filled due to the clear plastic squeeze bottles.
 
I really want to work with this facility again and do my second run of hot sauce, and I am happy to adjust my recipe in ways that can allow me to bottle without a cannery license, but I'm honestly just super confused now.
 
Does anyone have an idea on how this might be possible? My hot sauce was tested recently via process authority and rated at a max of 3.5pH. When I emailed the commercial kitchen, they said that the hot sauce company that was bottling was "shelf stable and under pH parameters and its not a canned product" but the ingredients are relatively the same stuff I use. So what is the differentiating factor that allows them to produce there without a cannery license and legally sell in stores and ship?
 
Sorry for the long post, but I'm very eager to know so I can start producing sauce again but also very anxious because I have no idea what to do  haha.
 
Thanks everyone!
 

salsalady

Business Member
Do you have pics of the product ingredients list? 
 
My guess is that the pH is low enough, and the rest of the ingredients are considered 'low risk'.  There's a difference in using all dry ingredients in vinegar to using the same ingredients fresh in vinegar.  I'm talking dry-v-fresh peppers, onion, garlic, etc.
 
salsalady said:
Do you have pics of the product ingredients list? 
 
My guess is that the pH is low enough, and the rest of the ingredients are considered 'low risk'.  There's a difference in using all dry ingredients in vinegar to using the same ingredients fresh in vinegar.  I'm talking dry-v-fresh peppers, onion, garlic, etc.
On their site, it says it's carrots, ACV, garlic, lime, chili peppers, cilantro, sea salt. I'm assuming all or most of these are fresh ingredients.
 
I ordered a bottle because I want to see the full list. I read that to do cold-fill hot sauce, you have to add preservatives to prevent bacteria growth (like Sriracha) so I'm curious if that is part of the official label ingredient list. However, their labeling says to claim "No additives. Gluten free. Vegan" so I'm so confused.
 
Any help or insight would be appreciated.
 
peppersproutfarm said:
Are you certain that the company actually made the sauce themselves? Because many of these companies use co-packers to get around the licensing issue.
100% positive as I did my first run at that same commercial kitchen and it is in no way a co-packer. You have to do it all yourself there. I also know the owner has been pretty averse to me getting a cannery license because she was not interested in having inspections at her facility.
 

salsalady

Business Member
Is the other sauce even licensed? If the kitchen doesn't want inspections...???
 

salsalady

Business Member
Even though the stores SHOULD check, if someone comes in with a professional looking bottle, they could just stick it on the shelf without knowing if it is a legally processed sauce.
 
I hate to give free advertising but this is the company:
 
https://tangochilesauce.com/
 
And this is the Instagram post of the commercial kitchen I produced my first hot sauce batch in. I stopped because I was afraid to continue doing it wrong. I'm frustrated because I stopped in order to take the proper steps to do it right, but then I see a company like this who does not appear to be doing it right but is able to put their sauce on store shelves. Ideally, I would not like to go through the trouble of getting a cannery license either or going through batch sign offs because as a small company just starting out, those are the things that can really put a halt in business momentum. I'm open to doing whatever changes to my recipe that are needed in order to legally and safely not require a cannery license...etc. This is what I'm trying to figure out.
 
https://www.instagram.com/p/CJ_1x66h4rz/
 
I also just realized that Yellowbird Hot Sauce, a very popular and famous hot sauce, is also bottled in clear plastic bottles and their ingredient list does not contain any preservatives or additives that would kill microbes, like how sriracha does.
 
Are all these companies just producing sauce in not the proper way?
 

midwestchilehead

Extreme Member
Maybe this from their FAQ explains it:
 

What's the shelf life of a bottle?
The FDA has certified Tango as 'shelf-stable', which pretty much means that the pH is low enough to prevent harmful bacteria from ever growing in a closed bottle.  That said, we find that Tango is tastier the fresher it is.  We recommend eating it within the first two years after it's made, so that's how we determine our 'Best By' date.  When you see this date on the bottom of the bottle, you know that bottle was filled and capped on that date, 2 years earlier.
 

peppersproutfarm

Extreme Member
ExitPlan said:
I also just realized that Yellowbird Hot Sauce, a very popular and famous hot sauce, is also bottled in clear plastic bottles and their ingredient list does not contain any preservatives or additives that would kill microbes, like how sriracha does.
 
Are all these companies just producing sauce in not the proper way?
I'm pretty sure yellow bird uses pepper mash which is a fermented product. I can't help but wonder if the other company is also using fermented ingredients.
 

salsalady

Business Member
From the Tango story, they are fully licensed.  We don't know their ingredient specifics, it's hard to speculate. 
 
What is the 'cannery license' you speak of?  Is it Better Process Control School certification? Is it specific to your state? 
 
BPCS is a nationwide certification for food processing.  My processing license is with WA state, but I also have FDA licensing/registration because the bbq sauce has a what they consider a critical item, which is dairy.
 

peppersproutfarm

Extreme Member
salsalady said:
From the Tango story, they are fully licensed.  We don't know their ingredient specifics, it's hard to speculate. 
 
What is the 'cannery license' you speak of?  Is it Better Process Control School certification? Is it specific to your state? 
 
BPCS is a nationwide certification for food processing.  My processing license is with WA state, but I also have FDA licensing/registration because the bbq sauce has a what they consider a critical item, which is dairy.
I was wondering if it was state-specific as well. In Louisiana you only have to get FDA certification if there is dairy or meat products within the sauce. I. E. Chicken broth, parmesan cheese, etc. Or if it's distributed out of state.
 

salsalady

Business Member
peppersproutfarm said:
I was wondering if it was state-specific as well. In Louisiana you only have to get FDA certification if there is dairy or meat products within the sauce. I. E. Chicken broth, parmesan cheese, etc. Or if it's distributed out of state.
That sounds like WA also. The bbq has butter, and I also sell out of state. For about 15 years, I only had to deal with the state. I've processed in 3 different facilities over the years.
 
So where I am at, a commercial facility does not need to be a licensed cannary in order to produce an FDA approved acidfied product. Though, at least one person present during the cook must be licensed (i.e. Better Processing Control School or state mandated equivalent for acidfied products only) and you must use a commercial kitchen (which here is simply inspected by the county health department same as restaurants) not a home kitchen, and of course the process must be approved by an authority and often they'll require the product be tested before approval.

Also I am not sure why you would have to cold fill, as I would think you could use a plastic that was able to withstand 190F.

And NC doesn't have any Cottage Food Laws so they default to the FDA regulations. So if it's legal to sell in state, it's legal to sell anywhere.
 
One possibility, although it seems like a longshot if this is a rented commercial kitchen, is that they're using an aseptic bottling process. Most of us small timers are using a hot fill process, where our sauce is exposed to potential pathogens while it's being prepped, but we kill potential pathogens at the end by bringing the sauce up to heat (and using the heated sauce to sterilize the inside of the bottles and cap).
 
In an aseptic process you're sterilizing everything in advance, and the sauce is made and bottled essentially without being exposed to potential pathogens. I don't have any first-hand experience with aseptic prep or bottling, but I believe it's one of the few ways you can use plastic bottles for a hot sauce. Most PET plastic doesn't have a heat tolerance high enough for a hot fill process, and even the new heat-set PET bottles only have a tolerance of 190-something degrees, so you're really threading the needle there getting your sauce hot enough to sterilize but not passing the plastic heat threshold.
 
In any case, this is long-shot speculation, but if they've figured out how to get licensed for an aseptic bottling process without having an outrageously expensive machine, a "clean room," and a bunch of hazmat suits, that could be the answer - in addition to how they're bottling in plastic, which is a secondary mystery!
 

The Hot Pepper

Founder
Admin
peppersproutfarm said:
I'm pretty sure yellow bird uses pepper mash which is a fermented product. I can't help but wonder if the other company is also using fermented ingredients.
 
Not all mash if fermented. This is a misnomer. A lot of the mash sauce companies buy is mashed peppers in vinegar and once that vinegar is added it halts any possible fermentation and it is usually added immediately. The reason companies use mash is product consistency and availability. In the dead of winter you can make sauce from peppers that were ripe, keeping your sauce consistent, like fast food restaurants. Yes, on this website most people ferment their mashes. But mash literally means mashed up peppers. Fermented or not. 
 

salsalady

Business Member
Louisiana Pepper Exchange is a company that specializes in pepper mashes.  Some with salt, some with salt and vinegar, Their website has changed since the last time I was there a few years ago.  I don't see mention of fermented mashes in their product listings, but I could of missed it.. 
 
+++ to what Boss said.  Mash is a consistency, not a fermentation specific thing.  Yes, we see "mashing in" on some alcohol making shows, but to say 'mash' does NOT automatically mean something fermented.
 
mashed potatoes
peas and mash
bangers and mash
 
OK, that might be a little left field there....  :)
 
Edit- in looking up "cannery processing" it might be referring to products that require pressure canning.  That process has a whole other list of requirements, regulations, record keeping, certifications.   Going back to the OP, i can see where the facility could accommodate a sauce acidic enough to be packaged in plastic, but not want to have to deal with something that needs to be pressure canned.  
 

The Hot Pepper

Founder
Admin
Yes in the production of spirits mash ferments because that is what produces the actual alcohol. However if you trace the word of mash even in spirits it's literally from the mashed up grain, fruit, etc.
 
We may be getting a tad sidetracked. SL is trying for that 2021 award :rofl:
 
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