Georgia Department of Agriculture

Manufactured Food Section

Tele: (404) 657-4801
Fax: (404) 463-6428

The Manufactured Foods Section food safety inspectors, known as processing specialists, conduct random, unannounced inspections of food manufacturing facilities in the State of Georgia, such as processing plants, wholesale bakeries, bottled water and drink processors. (Facilities that process meat and poultry products are regulated by the GDA Meat Inspection Section and the USDA Food Safety Inspection Service.) The inspectors collect food and water samples during inspections and investigations, and they review sanitation practices and product labels. All processing specialists must complete advanced training to ensure they can effectively inspect the various specialized processing operations they encounter in the field. The regulatory functions of this program are: To ensure consumers' health is protected, to provide food that is safe and unadulterated, and to ensure food in Georgia is prepared in a clean environment and honestly presented. 

Starting a Food Business 

When you decide to start a food business in Georgia, the first thing you'll need is a license. Food sales establishments are regulated by the GDA (note: food service establishments are regulated by local health departments) and the Georgia Food Act requires anyone who intends to operate a food sales establishment in the State of Georgia to obtain a license from the GDA. Prior to licensing, please contact the District Office that serves your area in order to schedule a pre-licensing inspection. The pre-license inspection is designed to ensure your facilities are adequate for the intended operation, and that you meet the facility requirements according to the regulations. Review the sidebar on this webpage for the license application, licensing fees, business plan review information, and other guidance to help you get started.  

Facility Requirements

There are basic facilities required, regardless of where you intend to operate (be it a home, retail store, or shared kitchen). Some general guidelines to keep in mind with your facility design:

  • A three (3) compartment sink is required for cleaning and a separate mop sink is required to dispose of mop water;
  • Hand washing sinks must be conveniently located to the processing areas and in the restroom;
  • A restroom must be available for employees to use;
  • Sewage must be conveyed through an approved public or individual disposal system;
  • Floors, walls, and ceilings must be smooth and easily cleanable and the facility should be free of pests and their possible points of entry;
  • Water must be from an approved source (public water systems are sufficient, the GDA will test private water sources prior to licensing);
  • Hot water supply must be adequate to meet the peak demands of the establishment, and plumbing shall be designed, constructed, and installed according to local codes;
  • Equipment for hot and cold holding shall be of sufficient size and capacity to ensure that cold foods are held at 40˚F or colder and hot foods are held at 135 degrees F or hotter;
  • Freezers must maintain food in a frozen state (hard to the touch); and 
  • Counties and municipalities may require grease traps for the facility, and should also be consulted prior to licensing.
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