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These cautions pertain primarily to the sale of ready made golden paste in the US. But almost all countries have strict laws about methods, ingredients and labeling that must be adhered to in order to legally sell food products. If you're outside the US, your local health department will have information on these requirements or can direct you to the appropriate agency.

For US consumers, anyone who wants to buy something called Golden Paste on the internet should check out the contents (insist on seeing a full label which must by law include a nutrient panel) and also check out the company. There are strict laws regarding the sale of acidified foods (and golden paste has to be acidified to make it shelf stable). There are equally strict rules about labeling. Few of the products we regularly see on Etsy, for example, are properly labeled, which makes us suspect that none of them is being manufactured in accordance with the law. In addition, in the US, golden paste for human use is classed as a dietary supplement. There are even stricter laws about the premises in which it can be manufactured, the kinds of product testing that are required, the record-keeping that must be done, and multiple other things.

Before anyone gets up in arms about "government control," these laws and restrictions were passed at the request of the food industry, to help protect them against companies who give the industry a bad name with poor practices. The severe illnesses and fatalities from improperly handled foods over the years should make any consumer want the laws to be strictly enforced.

Anyone who sells an acidified food across US state lines must have a certified person who actually supervises each production run. That person must have attended one of the required acidified food courses and passed it. The course is not difficult if you have some background in chemistry, but it isn't simple either. It is also not cheap (around $400-600 minimum, depending on where you take it). The production of acidified foods also requires the purchase of an accurate pH meter (in the $200 range at a minimum) and practice to be good at using it. Other laboratory equipment may be required to test the product quality of dietary supplements. It is not something one can do in their kitchen, at least not without breaking the law. Combining the three food ingredients that make up golden paste for your family is fine. Selling it to someone else is not, unless you can demonstrate compliance with the regulations.

One of the requirements is that foods must be labeled with a code that at the very least indicates the date of manufacture and a lot or batch number. This is particularly true for dietary supplements. And manufacturers are required by law to keep detailed records of the contents of each batch, the pH of the finished product and the pH at any critical point(s) during the processing, any deviation from approved processes that occurred during manufacture, how the raw materials were inspected and stored, and multiple other factors. If a company has received FDA approval for their product, you know all this is being done. If not, you buy at your own risk (and there can be significant risk).

Bottom line--demand to see full product labels and ask whether the company has FDA approval for the sale of acidified foods. If the product is not acidified, ask how it is refrigerated during shipment. The sale of refrigerated foods does not require passing the acidified foods course, but there are other requirements for safe handling. And since golden paste is classed as a dietary supplement, the other requirements are more stringent than if you were just shipping a food.

I'm making a big deal about this because botulism is a big deal. Other pathogens may be present as well, but they're less likely to kill you. The proper preparation of low acid foods like water-based spice formulations is well understood. If the manufacturing processes are approved and are strictly followed, then there is ordinarily no worry about the final product. But it's not something you can skip corners on. Be safe and find out what you're getting before you buy it. Don't be a guinea pig for a company which has not followed safe practices.

Golden paste sold for pets also comes under the heading of dietary supplements, and the regulations for a shelf-stable product are not significantly different. Golden paste sold for pets in refrigerated or frozen form must meet similar labeling requirements, but does not require the manufacturing premises to be certified for the production of human dietary supplements.

Just to be clear, the companies which are in the trusted suppliers list in the files and on our website meet the requirements of the country in which they’re located, as far as we’re able to determine. If someone purchases from one of those companies and finds that the product is not in compliance with labeling and production requirements for the country in which it's manufactured, please let us know. And please also realize that if you purchase something from another country, it may not meet US laws, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t in compliance in the country where it’s made. Don’t jump to conclusions about it without asking the manufacturer whether they meet their country’s requirements.