Cottage food laws are allowing people to turn their passion for baking goods at home into a small business - a situation where everyone wins the jackpot. Avid bakers are able to set up a home baking business more easily and can then help to feed the local economy. The rest of the community benefits even more, because they can shop for the best quality freshly baked goods just around the corner in their local area.
Cottage food laws are the reason behind the new growth in home-baked food businesses and why people in many American states now have access to several different options when it comes to buying delicious foods baked from the home kitchen.
Today, it’s legal in 44 states to sell home-baked goods under cottage food laws – is your state one of them? The exact details of the bill vary from state to state but the good news is the same: more and more people are free to buy delicious home baked goods from these businesses that up popping up all over the country.
What are “cottage foods”?
Cottage foods are non-potentially hazardous foods, such as baked goods, jams and jellies. These can be baked outside of a commercial kitchen – inside your home – and sold to consumers under the cottage food law.
Some ingredients have the potential to cause problems if the food were to go bad, like meat, seafood and dairy products. These items cannot be used to bake cottage foods, to help ensure that products sold under the cottage foods law are safe to eat.
Do you need a license?
Whether you need a license to open a business and start selling your home baked goods under the cottage food laws depends on which state you live in.
Some states, such as Texas, Alabama, Virginia, Indiana, Vermont and Florida do not see the need to introduce a license to regulate the sale of cottage foods, so you can start selling straight away. On the other hand, if you live in a state like California, Colorado, Georgia, Maine, Kentucky or New Mexico, you need to apply for the appropriate license or permit before you can start selling. It is best to contact the relevant authorities in your area for exact information about the laws that affect you.
What are the restrictions in your state?
As with licensing, each state has particular requirements about how you can begin selling your home baked goods as a small business.
Some states only allow you to sell to consumers directly, whilst for people living in others – California, Maine, New Hampshire, Ohio and Pennsylvania – it is possible to sell to retailers, restaurants and cafes as well.
The amount of sales for each cottage food business is also restricted in some states, by either the number or value of the goods sold. These restrictions range between $5000 and $50,000 per year, often making the difference between a hobby and a viable business. Some states like Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, New York, Ohio and Utah do not place any restrictions on the amount of sales.
Across all of the states, all items sold must be labeled correctly with the relevant information for your home baked goods. The following things should all be included on the label:
Date of baking
Declaration that goods are home made
If you are interested in setting up a business to sell home baked goods, it is worthwhile do some research to on the particular legislation for your state. That way, you will be sure to do things right and do the best for your new business.
Are the cottage food businesses safe?
When cottage food laws first came into existence, there was some concern about whether the foods would be safe for people to eat. Especially as the home kitchen isn’t as closely regulated as a commercial kitchen, some people were worried about the effect introducing products baked in a possibly unhygienic kitchen would have on consumer safety.
When they were given the opportunity, though, the home kitchens stood to the test. Home baking businesses rely on repeat customers from their local community, so it is in their best interest to ensure their products are safe for consumers. Since cottage food laws have been introduced, there has been no increase of inferior products to consumers, but many people have been praising the wonders of home bakers that are now available for sale in local communities!