Seaweed
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Overview

The Department's Division of Food Safety and Inspection is responsible for the regulatory oversight of facilities who hold, distribute, or process post harvested seaweed for human consumption.

Activities involved in the processing of seaweed may include but be not limited to: cutting, chopping, grinding, drying, dehydrating, cooking, packaging, vacuum packing, labeling, and/or storage.

On this page, seaweed is defined as a mass of marine algae used as a food, such as brown or red kelp, provided the product has been recognized as GRAS (generally recognized as safe). Read below to learn what you need to do in order to hold, distribute, or process post harvested seaweed for human consumption.

Growing and Harvesting

The Department does not regulate the growing or harvesting of seaweed. Those interested in growing and/or harvesting seaweed should contact the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation for further information on the steps they must follow prior to engaging in this activity.

Process Review

Seaweed and the processing of seaweed pose unique and inherent hazards that must be addressed prior to offering this product for sale. Food manufacturers interested in processing seaweed must receive a process review from an approved process authority. The process review ensures that the appropriate process controls are in place to reduce or eliminate potential hazards associated with seaweed. View a list of recognized process authorities.

A 20-C Food Processing License must be obtained from The Department's Division of Food Safety and Inspection in order to process seaweed in New York State. Learn more and get licensed

Regulatory Requirements

A good manufacturing practice (GMP – 21 CFR 117 subpart B, 1 NYCRR Subpart 261) sanitary inspection must be completed by NYSAGM’s Division of Food Safety and Inspection at the location the seaweed is processed prior to offering this product for sale. After the initial inspection is completed, routine inspections will occur at a frequency dependent on the level of processing conducted.

Seaweed is considered a food. The processing of seaweed for wholesale purposes requires compliance with some parts or all parts - depending on the size of the business - of 21 CFR Part 117, Preventive Controls for Human Food (PCHF) rule. The PCHF rule sets forth new requirements and updates existing requirements for facilities that manufacture, process, pack, or hold human food. Additional information is available from the FDA.

Recommendation

A potential model for addressing hazards associated with seaweed, particularly if the manufacturer is exempt from complying with the preventative controls section of 21 CFR 117 Subparts C & G, is by developing a HACCP Plan. Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) is an internationally recognized system that reduces the risk of safety hazards in food and while food safety science for seaweed is still developing applying the principles included in a HACCP plan could ensure that all potential hazards are eliminated or controlled to acceptable levels.

Labeling

If the seaweed product will be packaged and sold at retail to the end-user or sold to a wholesale firm that will sell and/or package product to the end-user at retail, it must be labeled. The packaging and labeling of seaweed must conform to the label requirements outlined here.

FDA Registration

All facilities that manufacture, process, package, and/or store processed food and beverages in the US must register with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Food facility registration helps the FDA determine the location and source of potential bioterrorism or foodborne illness outbreak incidents, and helps the FDA quickly notify facilities that they may be affected by the incident. Find additional information regarding registration with the FDA.