Home-Based Food Business

In a number of states around the US, it is now possible to start a home bakery or other small food business from your own kitchen.  Collectively known as Cottage Food Laws, these regulations are a huge benefit to artisan food entrepreneurs due to significant cost and time savings as opposed to renting commercial kitchen space. That being said, the Cottage Food Laws are passed on a state-by-state basis meaning that each state has its own set of rules and regulations.  Information about running a home-based business is included in the following articles and the following map includes state-specific home-based food business information. For additional information about Cottage Food Laws in your area please contact your local health department or Department of Agriculture.

Cottage Food Laws By State
The following does not attempt to describe, in detail, all aspects of each state’s law.  It is your responsibility as a business owner to ensure that you understand and follow the laws of your state, county, and city.

Alabama allows for the sale of non-hazardous food products through direct-to-consumer channels as long as sales do not exceed $20,000 annually.  Food entrepreneurs interested in operating out of their home must file for health permitting with their county health department and are required to attend health training.  For more information, click here.

Alaska residents do have a cottage food law though it’s important to note that the laws may vary depending on county so it is important to check with you local county health officials.  On the state-wide level, the law allows for the production of a number of non-hazardous food items to be sold directly to the end consumer.  There is an annual revenue cap of $25,000.  For more information, click here.

Arizona requires cottage food operators to register their businesses but there is no cost, at this time, for the registration.  Additionally, there is no restriction on annual revenue as there are in other states.  Arizona does place restrictions on the types of products that can be produced – with a focus on baked items and confectionary goods – but places few other restrictions when it comes to how and where the home-based food producer would like to sell their products.  It’s important to note, that some counties do have additional restrictions that go above and beyond the state law so be sure to check with your local county as well.  For more information, visit Arizona’s comprehensive Home Baked & Confectionary Goods website by clicking here.

Arkansas has put strict limits the types of products that can be produced at home under their Cottage Food Law and requires that all sales are direct to the end consumer at events like farmers’ markets or  at the entrepreneur’s own home.  For more information about this law and how to get started, click here.

California’s cottage food law is a multi-tiered law depending on the products producers want to sell and how through which channels they want to sell their products.  This gives entrepreneurs an option to start small, as desired, and grow their operations as needed while still utilizing their home kitchen.  For more information about California’s Cottage Food Law, click here.

Colorado does allow for cottage food producers but has several unique factors to their laws that are different from most other states.  The key difference is that there is an annual revenue cap on each product that is sold but not a total revenue cap on how much the business as a whole earns.  Each product, under this law, may make no more than $10,000 annually.  Colorado residents are limited to non-hazardous food products but pickles, under a recent amendment to the original law, are now also allowed to be produced.  For more information, click here.

Connecticut recently passed a revised cottage food law that may provide more latitude in who can lawfully create food from their home kitchen.  Prior to this, only farmers have been permitted to produce food at home and sell to the public.  At this time, Connecticut’s health department is in the process of clarifying the rules.   For more information, click here.

Delaware limits cottage food producers to farmers only.  For more information about Delaware’s Cottage Food Law, click here.

District of Columbia
The Cottage Food Act in the District allows food entrepreneurs to produce low-risk food items in their home kitchen as long as they limit their sales channels to farmers’ markets and other direct-to-consumer events.  For more information about DC’s Cottage Food law, click here.

The Florida Department of Agriculture oversees the cottage food laws in the state though there are not licensing requirements necessary for a home-based food producer to get started.  The annual revenue cap is limited to $15,000 and sales can only be of non-hazardous food products that are sold directly to the end consumer through farmers’ markets, roadside stands, and at the entrepreneurs’ own home.  For more information, click here.

Georgia allows food entrepreneurs to produce a range of non-hazardous products within their home kitchen.  While the law states the cottage food operators can only sell directly to end consumers and may not sell wholesale; the law does allow for internet sales as long as the product is not shipped outside of state lines.   For more information about this law and steps on how to get started, click here.

Hawaii does not currently have a cottage food law.

Idaho, as a state, currently doesn’t have a cottage food law but Idaho’s individual health districts do allow for sales of some types of made-in-a-home-kitchen, non-hazardous food to be sold direct to consumers.  Because each health district differs slightly, you should check with your local health department for more information.

Cottage food operators in Illinois must register their business with the Illinois Department of Public Health and are restricted to a specific list of non-hazardous food products.  Illinois also caps home-based food producers at $36,000 in annual revenue and restricts what sales channels these entrepreneurs can sell through.  For more information, click here.

Indiana allows for non-hazardous food products, identified as items with a pH of less than 4.6, to be sold at farmers’ markets and roadside stands without a limit on annual revenue.  For more information, click here.

Iowa offers two options for home food producers to operate under.  The first, for those who are producing non-hazardous food that they plan to sell either from home or in farmers’ markets, does not require health licensing.  The second option allows for those who want to sell perishable baked goods and/or want to be able to sell their non-hazardous products through other retail channels.  Annual revenue is capped at $20,000.  For more information about this option, click here.

Kansas’ Department of Agriculture does allow for home producers to sell certain food products at farmers’ markets and events with a health license.  There is no restriction on revenue at this time.  For more information, click here.

Kentucky allows for ‘home-based microprocessors’ to sell through specific channels.  The biggest restriction, however, is that according to Kentucky law, only farmers can take advantage of this law so it is not a cottage food law that is available to everyone.  For more information, click here.

Louisiana permits food entrepreneurs to produce certain non-hazardous products for sale to the public in their home kitchens.  The state has outlined specific regulations that the business owner must follow in order to ensure that the product is produced in a safe manner and to be consistent with Louisiana state law.  For more information, click here.

Licensing and inspection required as is testing of all products, but there are currently no revenue limits and home food producers may sell through a multitude of sales channels. There is pending legislation that may further ease restrictions on Maine cottage food operators though it has not yet been passed into law. For more information, click here.

Maryland residents do not need to license their cottage food operation which lowers their startup costs but they are restricted to selling certain products at farmers’ markets or events only and are limited to $25,000 in annual sales. For more information, click here.

Massachusetts cottage food law allows for food products to be produced and sold that are known to be or can be proven to be not potentially hazardous.  With no restrictions revenue cap and the only big sales channel limitation being that home based food producers cannot sell wholesale, Massachusetts provides a fair amount of a flexibility for these food entrepreneurs.  Licensing is required.  For more information, click here.

No licensing required is required for Michigan residents to operate a legal home-based food business and many types of
products are acceptable but there is a $20,000 annual sales limit.  For more information, click here.

Minnesota has some unique restrictions when it comes to their cottage food law that isn’t found in every state.  The most noticeable is the that cottage food operator must be the person who physically sells the product to the end consumer; there can be no hiring of employees (or using of family members) during the sales process.  Minnesota also places restrictions around the types of products that can be produced and sold and has an $18,000 annual revenue cap with a fee due, in addition to the licensing fees, for any cottage food operator whose revenue exceeds $5,000.  For more information, click here.

The Cottage Food Law in Mississippi places a $20,000 annual revenue cap on home food producers though does allow for most in-person direct sales to the end consumer.  Currently, no licensing or permitting is required to begin operation.  For more information, click here.

Missouri’s cottage food law allows for sales of non-hazardous products, mainly limited to baked goods, jams, etc.,  via in-direct sales to the end consumer.  There is an annual revenue cap of $50.000.  For more information, click here.

Cottage Food producers must register with their local health department to be able to produce a range of non-hazardous products and sell through in-person direct sales channels.  If the producer plans to sell at farmers’ markets exclusively, no registration is required.  For more information, click here.

While Nebraskans are not required to get their cottage food business licensed in order to operate, those who produce food out of their home are restricted in selling their products only at farmers’ markets and craft shows. For more information, click here.

Home food producers in the state of Nevada must register with their corresponding local health district. Once licensed, Nevada cottage food operators do face an annual revenue limit of $35,000 and are limited to direct sales only. For more information, click here.

New Hampshire
New Hampshire residents have two options available to them when it comes to producing food in their home kitchens. The first has an annual sales limit and heavy restrictions on the types of products that can be produced and how they can be sold but doesn’t require health licensing. The other option, via the Homestead Law, requires more oversight but offers residents greater business flexibility and opportunity. For more information, click here. 

New Jersey
Cottage Food Businesses are currently not allowed.

New Mexico
New Mexico residents must submit an application and become licensed before they can begin to sell their products. As part of the application process, home producers must go through a free training program provided by the state. The upside is that once licensed, there are few restrictions on the producer from the standpoint of a revenue cap and the list of products that can be produced is fairly extensive. Please note, certain cities within New Mexico do not permit cottage food operators so you need to make sure that you are complying with both state and local law. For more information, click here.

New York
New York currently allows home-based food processors to become licensed and sell an unlimited amount at agricultural-based venues such as farmers’ markets and agricultural events. For more information, click here. Please note, New York City residents will want to double-check with the Department of Agriculture around the legality of starting a home-based food business within city boundaries.

North Carolina
North Carolina allows for ‘home processors’, as they’re called, though there are limitations on the types of products allowed and a one big restriction of not allowing pets in the home at any time.   Residents who are interested in starting a home-based food business should click here for the state information and resources necessary to legally operate.

North Dakota
Though there is no cottage food law in effect in North Dakota, home-based food producers of non-hazardous items are typically allowed to sell via farmers’ markets and other direct sales channels. Certification and licensing requirements can vary by county so please contact you county health department for more information.

Ohio has two laws available for home-based food producers. The Ohio Home Bakery law does require that the kitchens are inspected annually and producers must be licensed, but it gives some latitude with regards to allowing for perishable baked goods and for how products are sold. One big restriction with this bill is that pets are never allowed in the home. For more information about the Ohio Home Bakery law, click here.

The other option available to Ohio residents is through the Cottage Food Bill which does not require health licensing but does restrict the types of products producers can make and has requirements around how the product is sold with an emphasis on direct to consumer.   For more information about this bill, click here.

Oklahoma does allow for cottage food operators without health department or Department of Agriculture licensing but places strict limitations on how products can be sold that may not make this a feasible option for many. For more information about Oklahoma’s Home Bakery Act, click here.

Oregon has a long history when it comes to Cottage Food Laws and allowing home producers to sell their food products to consumers. Currently Oregon has several laws pertaining to home-based food businesses; one specific to farmers, one specific to small food producers that limits the amount of oversight by the Department of Agriculture (click here for more information about this one), and one that does require Department of Agriculture licensing but allows for more latitude for home-based food producers in terms of products sold, how they’re sold, and annual revenue cap (click here for more information about this option).

Pennsylvanians may cook/bake food in their home kitchens and sell it after they meet the requirements set forth by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture. This may include, depending on your product, having your product lab tested. While it may take longer to get a home-based food business started in Pennsylvania because of this, and other, necessary steps, Pennsylvanians have very lenient restrictions after become approved with regards to where and how they sell their products. For more information, click here.

Rhode Island
While Rhode Island does allow for the production of food from a home kitchen, their law is tightly restricted to a small group of individuals. Known as the Farm Home Food Manufacture Bill, Rhode Island only allow farmers who sell a minimum of $2500 annually from agricultural products to produce food in their home kitchen and sell it to consumers. For more information about this law, click here.

South Carolina
South Carolina permits the production of food created in a home kitchen under their Cottage Food Law though limits the type of products that can be produced, mainly non-hazardous baked goods and candy items, and stipulates that the items must be sold directly to the end consumer and cannot be sold for resale (i.e., cannot be sold wholesale). There is also an annual revenue cap for food entrepreneurs working under this law. For more information about how to become licensed to operate under this law, click here.

South Dakota
South Dakota’s Home Processed Food Law allows for the sale of certain home-made products at farmers’ markets or similar events. This law restricts home food producers to in-person, direct-to-consumer sales only. For more information about this law and the licensing requirements, click here.

Tennessee has two options for cottage food producers that enable the use of home kitchens for production of food for sale. One option does not require an inspection but does limit what and where the food producer can sell their products. Tennessee’s domestic kitchen law, the second option, is more permissive in terms of sales channels – allowing sales to restaurants as example – but does require more licensing and an inspection of the residence’s kitchen by the department of agriculture.

For more information about both these options, click here.

Texans may produce food at home and sell it in-state at farmers’ markets, events, or through direct sales from their home. Though they are not required to register with the state, they must take a training class before they begin operations. More information about Texas’ Cottage Food Law can be found by clicking here. 

Utah residents are allowed to sell a number of different types of food products through a variety of sales channels with no limitation on revenue but first must become licensed with the state. More information about this process can be found by clicking here.

Vermont has a number of options available to home producers under several different food laws making it one of the most permissive in the country. These options enable home producers to start their businesses with few restrictions in a very cost-effective manner. For more information about all the options available to home producers, click here.

Virginia is very permissive when it comes to food prepared in a home kitchen and sold to the public. Under their law, there are few limitations on product type and, with the exception of catered sales, most types of sales channels are allowed. The big difference from many other states is that home food producers must have their kitchen inspected. Virginia does allow producers of certain products, mainly baked goods, candies, and low-acidified canned goods, to avoid the kitchen inspection step but in this case there are restrictions around how and where those products can be sold. For more information about both options, click here.

In recent years, Washington State has lifted some of the limitations surrounding their Cottage Food Law with the biggest one being the increase in annual revenue from $15,000 to $25,000. Food producers are limited to baked goods and some canned products and must be registered with the Washington State Department of Agriculture along with their state and, as applicable, city business licenses. For more information, click here.

West Virginia
Registration with county health officials is required and sales can only be made at in-state farmers’ markets or events. The types of products produced are also limited under this law to certain canned and baked products. For more information, click here.

Wisconsin’s ‘Pickle Bill’ as it’s known, allows for the sale of home canned goods (those with pH levels less than 4.6) but does not permit producers to sell home-baked items. A new law was drafted in 2015 that would add baked items to Wisconsin’s list of allowable food products but it has not yet passed.

While no registration with the state agriculture department is required before producers begin selling, there is a fairly restrictive annual revenue limit of $5,000 under this law.   For more information, click here.

Wyoming currently has two home producers rules. The Wyoming Freedom Act, click here for more information,  was signed into effect into Spring 2015 and allows food producers to make any type of food as long as it does not contain meat (poultry is the exception). This law also does not require food producers to secure any health or business licensing permits. One limitation with this law is that the food product must be consumed in a private residence and food must be sold directly to the end consumer.

Similar to the Wyoming Freedom Act, Wyoming also has an older Cottage Food law that may ultimately be replaced entirely by the newer act. Currently that law states that producers may make most non-perishable products and sell them directly to the consumer but does not put the restriction of requiring that the end product be consumed in a private residence. It’s important to note that under this law, producers are not required to seek health certifications but they are also prohibited from selling online.