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Today we spent a couple of hours meeting with Paula Ray at the Northwest Ohio Cooperative Kitchen (the NOCK), a wonderful licensed commercial kitchen and canning facility for food entrepreneurs located outside of Bowling Green, Ohio. We learned more about the prize we won and the steps required to get our Dayton Comestibles Corn Whiskey Mustard onto store shelves. And what a process it is.

The first step is to get our recipe and a sample of the mustard into the hands of a food scientist. He analyses the Ph of the product, it’s “water activity” and other factors to determine whether it’s a low-acid, high-acid or acidified food. Who cares? We do, because each type of food product calls for different preparation and packing processes in order to be shelf-stable and safe.

The commercial kitchen prep area and canning like at the NOCK

The commercial kitchen prep area and canning line at the NOCK

Both Ohio and the federal government have strict food safety regulations. If Dayton Comestibles Corn Whiskey Mustard turns out to be “high acid,” we will have to meet all of Ohio’s requirements. If it’s “acidified,” it means we have to meet even more strict federal requirements, too. We can do it—it just adds another layer of expense, record keeping and red tape. But in the interest of not killing our customers, it’s all worth it!

Paula has been working in food manufacturing for decades and is a wealth of information. We’re really excited to be working with her, and so grateful for this opportunity!