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Food Safety

General FAQs

  • Are shellfish safe to harvest and eat?ODA monitors mussels, clams and oysters for paralytic shellfish toxin and domoic acid, two marine toxins that can affect shellfish. ODA might close or open recreational beaches based on these test results. ODA cannot test for all the other substances that could be harmful if eaten, so use your best judgment and only harvest from beaches that are sanitary.
  • Are there any current recreational shellfish closures?Each time before you harvest mussels or clams, call the 24-hour shellfish safety information hotline at (800) 448-2474 or check our website.
  • How do I file a food safety complaint?For facilities licensed by Oregon Department of Agriculture (grocery stores, meat markets, warehouses, bakery, food processing plant or dairy), please visit our concerns and complaints webpage. If you have complaints about a restaurant or a food cart, contact your local health department.
  • How do I know whether the shellfish I'm buying for my store or restaurant are from licensed sellers?Retail stores and restaurants must obtain shellfish (clams, oysters, mussels and whole scallops) only from certified (licensed) shellfish dealers. A list of licensed dealers is available on our website.
  • How do I obtain a food handler's card?Local environmental health departments issue food handler cards. Food handler cards are required if you work at an establishment licensed by the local health department. If you work at an establishment licensed by the Oregon Department of Agriculture you are not required to have a food handler's card, but it is recommended.
  • How do I obtain a letter for food stamps?If you want your retail store to accept food stamps through the federal program called SNAP (supplemental nutrition assistance program), you will need to contact this USDA program at 877-823-4369. SNAP no longer accepts letters from the Food Safety Program, rather they need to see the firm's retail license.
  • How do I obtain organic certification?The United States Department of Agriculture regulates organic certification of farms, wild crop harvesting, and handling operations that sell agricultural products as organically produced. A certifying agent accredited by the USDA must certify farms or handling operations.
  • How do I prevent foodborne illness?There are several ways to minimize your risk of foodborne illness: wash your hands; wash fruits and vegetables before eating; store all produce in the refrigerator; avoid cross contamination from raw meats to ready-to-eat foods, such as fruit, salads or cooked foods, by using clean cutting boards for each, separate plates and separate knives; store fresh produce in a separate drawer in your refrigerator, away from raw meats.
  • How do I report a possible foodborne illness?To report a suspected foodborne illness, contact your local environmental health department.
  • How do I start a business in Oregon as a small processor or producer?ODA has specialists who can help small producers or processors. Contact the Salem office at 503-986-4720 for more information.
  • How do I start a business under the Farm Direct Bill?ODA has a specialist who can help producers or processors with questions about the Farm Direct Bill. Contact the Salem office at 503-986-4720 for more information.
  • How often are shellfish tested?ODA tests shellfish for paralytic shellfish toxin and domoic acid from several key sites along the entire coastline. ODA tests at least twice per month during the colder months, and weekly during the warmer months.
  • If I sell shellfish (clams, oysters, mussels, and whole scallops) at my store or serve them at my restaurant, am I required to keep the tags?Yes. Every store and restaurant is required to keep shellfish tags for 90 days in the event of a recall. Use a record keeping system to track dates shellstock were served or sold, and for shucked shellfish you must track the shellfish company name, lot number, and dates the shucked shellfish were served or sold. An invoice will not work for recalls because it does not contain enough information to trace back the shellfish to where they were harvested and which company harvested them.
  • Is a license required to harvest shellfish and sell them for human consumption?Yes. An ODA license is required for commercial shellfish harvesting.
  • Is crab safe when there is a biotoxin closure?Crab are not filter feeders and do not concentrate the toxins in the tissue or meats. There may be toxins in the viscera (guts) if the toxin levels are high. ODA does monitor crab viscera during toxin closures and will issue warnings when needed.
  • What are the domestic kitchen licensing procedures?Review the kitchen licensing webpage and visit the Find My Local Food Inspector page to get the name of the inspector assigned to your ZIP code.
  • What are the farmers' markets vendor license requirements?Each farmers market operates under its own set of rules. For more information please contact the farmer's market in your area.
  • What are the honey extractor license requirements?If you extract only your honey with no additives, and sell only directly to the consumer, you are exempt from ODA licensing under the Farm Direct Bill. If you have 20 or fewer colonies and extract only their honey, and you sell either direct to the consumer or wholesale, you are considered a hobbyist and are exempt from licensing, but you must submit an application for exemption to the ODA. Any beekeeper, with 21 or more colonies, extracting and selling wholesale honey is required to be licensed as a food processor. Under the cottage food exemption, you can operate from a domestic kitchen and sell honey or honey products using commercial food.
  • What are the labeling requirements for packaged foods?Food that is packaged for retail sale must be properly labeled.
  • What are the laws regulating animals in food establishments?Oregon laws comply with laws established under the Americans with Disabilities Act. OAR 603-025-0020 states service animals are permitted in areas usually open to the public, such as retail food stores and dining areas. Animals are not permitted in areas where food processing or food preparation is occurring.
  • What are the plan review requirements?Plans for establishments regulated under the Food Code must be submitted to ODA for review and approval before the start of construction or remodeling.
  • What are the produce stand license requirements?Oregon Administrative Rule 603-025 states that retail vegetable and fruit stands are required to be licensed, except when the produce stand is on the farmer's own property, only fruits and vegetables grown by the owner are sold, and no food processing is done.
  • What is required for potlucks, barbeques or mobile food sales?Any establishment operating in connection with any event where food is prepared and served to the public for consumption, whether for sale or free of charge, is required to have a license. A temporary restaurant license is required for events such as fundraisers, events advertised to the public, fairs, carnivals, concerts, festivals, etc. Any homemade food offered at such events to the public must be prepared in a kitchen inspected by the local health department.

Consumer information

Farm direct

  • Are there labeling requirements under the Farm Direct Rules?Yes, all state and federal labeling requirements apply: list of ingredients, net weight, name and address of the agricultural producer. Additionally, products must be labeled with “THIS PRODUCT IS HOMEMADE AND IS NOT PREPARED IN AN INSPECTED FOOD ESTABLISHMENT” and “NOT FOR RESALE”. Some products have additional labeling requirements. * This wording does not pertain to honey extractors with 20 or fewer hives.
  • Can fruits or vegetables be frozen or freeze dried and sold under the Farm Direct Bill? Freezing is considered processing and frozen fruits and vegetables are not allowed to be sold under the farm direct exemption. Freeze dried fruits, vegetables, herbs, herbal tea, and blends of herbs are allowed to be sold under the farm direct exemption because that type of processing is expressly allowed in the rules.
  • Can I direct-market grains and legumes that I have grown under the Farm Direct Rules?Agricultural producers can grow and process for farm direct sale whole, hulled, crushed or ground grains, legumes and seeds, plus parched or roasted grains—if of a type customarily cooked before eating. These products must be labeled.
  • Can I dry what I grow if I want to sell it without a license?Yes. Farm Direct Marketing Rules allow agricultural producers to sell fruits, vegetables and herbs they have grown, harvested and dried, without a license. A license is not required to sell nuts grown, harvested, cured or dried, and cracked by agricultural producers.
  • Can I make preserves in jars and sell them without a license?If you grow the principal ingredients yourself, the Farm Direct Marketing Rules exempt shelf-stable products, including syrups, jams, preserves, jellies, and canned fruit, from ODA licensing. In some cases pickles, chutneys, relishes, sauerkraut, and some salsas may be sold under this exemption.
  • Can I purchase and use garlic, onion, or celery in my Farm Direct product?No. Garlic, onion and celery do not meet the definition of a "spice." You must grow it yourself.
  • Can I sell canned foods other than acidic foods under the Farm Direct Rules?No. Canned goods must have a pH below 4.6. Canned foods with a pH higher than 4.6 (such as peppers, green beans and corn) pose a substantial risk of botulism and other food safety concerns, and must be processed by a licensed and inspected processor.
  • Can I sell items under consignment under the Farm Direct Rules?Consignment means selling products for another agricultural producer from the same county, or an adjoining county. Products must be represented as being from the original producer and must be properly labeled. Consignment is limited to fresh and dried fruits, vegetables and herbs, whole, hulled crushed or ground grains, seeds and legumes, flour, shelled and unshelled nuts, honey with no additives, olive oil, and maple tree and walnut tree syrup. Eggs have additional rules.
  • Do I need to maintain production records for products produced under the Farm Direct Marketing Bill?Records for acidified foods must use a recognized process and include finished product batch testing for pH, and pH meter calibration records. Records for dried or cured fruits, vegetables, edible flowers, herbs or blends of herbs, and herbal tea for which drying or curing is not part of routine post-harvest handling must show that the process ensures the water activity is 0.85 or below. Farm Direct marketers must keep processing, production, deviation and sales records. Records must be maintained three years and be made available to the ODA upon request.
  • How do the Farm Direct Rules affect the organizations that run farmers markets?Organizations that manage a group of farm direct marketers and their spaces are not required to be licensed, unless they are selling food not included in the Farm Direct Rule exemption.
  • How do the Farm Direct Rules affect the sale of eggs?Producers selling only to retail customers do not need a Food Safety Program license, regardless of the number of eggs sold. Labeling requirements apply regardless of number of eggs sold. If you sell eggs under consignment there are additional rules.
  • Under the Farm Direct Bill, how will I know if my canned products are safe?Agricultural producers must ensure all canned products have a finished pH at or below 4.6. If the pH is below 4.6 and the product has been heat-treated it is generally considered to be safe. Producers must monitor and record the pH of each batch. Acidified foods must be processed using a recognized process and product formulation.
  • What do the Farm Direct Rules mean by acidic food?An acidic food is a bottled, packaged, or canned food that either has a natural equilibrium pH of 4.6 or less, has been lacto-fermented to decrease the equilibrium pH to 4.6 or below, or has a water activity greater than 0.85 and has been acidified to decrease the equilibrium pH to 4.6 or below.
  • What ingredients can I purchase (not grow) in producing products under the Farm Direct Marketing Bill?You must grow the principal ingredients, such as strawberries for strawberry jam, and you must make the product (such as jam) yourself. No commingling of principle ingredients is allowed. Only the following ingredients may be purchased to add to your products: herbs, spices, salt, vinegar, pectin, lemon or lime juice, honey and sugar.
  • What is the gross annual sales limitation under the Farm Direct Bill?Under the Farm Direct Bill, there is a $50,000 annual sales limit on producer processed fruit-based syrups, fruit in syrup, preserves, jams, jellies, processed fruits or vegetables or fruit or vegetable juices.
  • What non-meat farm products can an agricultural producer (farmer) sell without being licensed?Fresh and dried fruits, vegetables and herbs, whole, hulled crushed or ground grains, seeds and legumes, flour, shelled and unshelled nuts, shell eggs, honey with no additives, olive oil, and maple tree and walnut tree syrup. Popcorn, nuts, peppers and corn on the cob can be sold if they are roasted at the place of purchase by a farm direct marketer, after purchase, and are not sold for immediate consumption. Under certain conditions pickles, sauerkraut, preserves, jams, jellies and syrups may be included.
  • What types of products can be processed at the market under the Farm Direct Rules?If you grow it, you can roast your own peppers, nuts, and corn on the cob and pop your own corn at the farmers' markets, as long as these items are not sold for immediate consumption. If you want to sell for immediate consumption, you must contact your local public health authority.
  • When did the Farm Direct law go into effect?On Nov 29, 2023 Oregon Department of Agriculture updated the Farm Direct Marketing Rules under OAR 603-025-0215 though 0275.


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