You may not have used a commercial kitchen facility like the Ontario Agri-Food Centre (OAFVC) before. To give you an idea of what the food production cycle looks like at a commercial kitchen, here are the 9 on-site products OAFVC offers local agricultural and food entrepreneurs, such as yourself:
9 On-site Products OAFVC Offers Local Agricultural and Food Entrepreneurs
1. Commercial kitchen: includes gas appliances, flash freezer, large tilting kettle, tilting skillet, double-stacked convection oven and popcorn machine.
2. Fruit and vegetable processing: includes high hygiene room, use of Microkill (a bleach and alcohol-free cleaner) and commercial dishwasher.
3. Packaging: equipment for vacuum packaging, modified atmosphere packaging (MAP), tamper evident seals, heat-sealed pouches, in-house graphic designer, specialty label printing and barcode/GSI printing.
4. Product development: includes water testing, shelf life testing, PH, viscosity, pathogen tests sent out to a lab, due diligence and client records with proof for stores on safety of products.
5. Conference/training room: large boardroom for training, certification, and consultation space.
6. Business consulting services: food handler certification, business development consulting, shelf study analysis, group training sessions for new entrepreneurs and operational training on all equipment provided at OAFVC.
7. Cold storage: large fridge, dry storage and products tagged for tracking purposes within the facility.
8. Product controlled tempering: controlled temperature and humidity of room for chemical processes to occur, necessary for fermentation or chocolate production.
9. Hops pelletizer: turns hops plant into dried pellets, for craft brewers.
You may not need all of the above services right away, but they are available if and when they are needed. Small batch food producers are continually growing their business and coming up with new ideas. So it’s likely you will need a product development lab at some point as your food processing business grows. Here are some more details about OAFVC’s product development lab, and why it’s so important to conform to Canadian food safety standards, and how OAFVC can help you do just that.
What Is a Product Development Lab?
When preparing any food for human consumption, certain safety standards must be considered, and in a product development lab, very clear cut tests evaluate the safety of any food that ends up on a grocery store shelf. If you are not familiar with these tests, knowledgeable OAFVC staff are on site to help you learn about their importance and carry out the tests properly, so you don’t need to feel overwhelmed. It’s easier than you think to test new products, make sure they’re safe and ensure they come out exactly as you want them to.
These are the services available from OAFVC’s product development lab and how they help you meet Ontario food safety standards.
- Water testing: Analyzing water used in the preparation of your food to ensure it is safe to consume and be mixed with other ingredients.
- Shelf life: OAFVC can collect samples over a certain period of time and send them out for testing to determine your product’s expected optimal shelf life.
- PH: Tests that show whether your product is more acid or alkaline in nature.
- Viscosity: Testing the thickness of a fluid, whether low viscosity like water or high viscosity like honey.
- Pathogen tests: These tests are sent out to a lab. Today’s food supply is complex and involves a range of different stages, including on-farm production, harvesting, processing, storage, transport and distribution before the food reaches the consumers. That’s why these tests are so important. During the food preparation cycle, there are many different ways that food contamination can occur.
- Due diligence: There are purposeful steps taken to ensure all food being processed through the OAFVC facility meets Ontario food safety standards.
- Client documentation: Records that prove your products meet Canadian food safety standards are essential for your products to be purchased by larger retailers.
9 Easy Ways to Optimize Your Food Production Process