U.S. Regulations Governing the Drying of Herbs on the Farm
Answered by: Rick Miller
Question from: Julie
Posted on: September 30, 2009

I have your wonderful book "The Potential of Herbs as a Cash Crop", and have found it very informative. I currently blend culinary herbal products and teas under a "Home Processor Exemption" and sell locally and in NY State.

I dry herbs for salves, crafts etc, but would like to dry my own herbs for my culinary blends and teas. I contacted my local Dept of Ag & Markets, and the story seems to change depending on who I talk to. One person even said I would need a commercial kitchen to dry the herbs! I can’t imagine that every small herb grower dries their herbs in a commercial kitchen.

I realize regulations are somewhat state dependent, but can you please give me an idea of what regulations I should expect?

There are no State of Federal laws dictating how someone might want to dry herbs, flowers, and foods on personal farms. There are rules and conditions for processing foods (something you might eat), when served directly to the public. That is where the stainless steel 2-sink regulations begin.

All States do have guidelines and requirements for COG, and they also have certification of manufacturing processes. This would include stainless steel throats on processing mills and other machinery for foods for use by the public. Drying processes have yet to be considered, but that most likely with be next.

And finally, the industry at large now has other forms of certification, like "Good Manufacturing Practices." On in this venue would include whether or not the facility is Kosher, for Jewish food production. While most of these certifications are in place to help protect the public, most become political, and ways to tax food production.

This is what has happened to such agencies as FDA and Certified Organic. What does it mean to certify organic products from China, when they are overloaded with such things as heavy metals and contaminates not checked by customs and other regulatory agencies? Labeling is another boondoggle, and does actually reflect many of the needs for those discerning purchasers.

Dehydration is the removal of water from a product. There are many ways to do this, including the sun, microwave, and even heat. To try and regulate such a process is crazy, and even a bit toward trying to control and regulate how one breaths air (metaphor).

Try not to worry about things which are not yet defined. Just focus on how you might want this product produced for your own consumption. Then, when confronted with a regulation or rule, address that with the same practicality. There is far too much attempts at regulations on the Federal level, and common sense should rule the day.

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