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If you're wondering how to legally sell food from home, it's vital to know that every state has its own set of cottage food laws. Not only that but there may be a penalty for selling food without a permit. To that end, one of the first things you want to do is look up the specific laws on selling food from home for your state.
Here's the thing. In some states, you won't need a permit, but home-based food businesses almost always need to use specific labeling. Not only that, but selling home-cooked food to the public has other restrictions depending upon where you live.
Before you start selling food from home, the first thing to do is to visit your state's department of health website to review the rules. Additionally, Castiron provides a database of information to explore cottage food law. You can look up cottage food laws by state on the Castiron website, and we provide comparisons as well. Ultimately, you'll find some similarities in rules on selling food from home no matter where you live.
These standard rules include:
Not only that, but many states require a yearly kitchen inspection by the health department. Remember, the state's health department and Department of Agriculture are the government entities overseeing cottage food law. So, if you have any questions, it's best to contact them.
Most states require a business license, regardless of the industry. Depending on the state, there may also be business registration requirements, and you may need to collect state sales tax. Additionally, you will likely need a food handler's license or food and safety certificate, which requires taking a test demonstrating you understand how to prepare and store food safely.
In addition to licensing and permits, cottage food producers need to ensure their products are properly labeled. There are two areas. First, the primary display panel is on the front of the package, listing the product's name and the net quantity of ingredients. The information panel is usually to the right, containing the nutrition facts. Many states also require a disclaimer stating that you made the product in a home kitchen.
Selling homemade food online is a bit different from selling other products. State laws can be drastically different, which means selling food online means selling within state borders. Also, consumer safety is a concern. A cottage food website allows customers to order online. However, as the business owner, you will typically need to arrange for pick-up at a specific location or provide delivery.
Do you need a permit to sell food from home? Regardless of where you live, the answer is likely yes. Selling homemade food to the public is regulated to cut down on the risk of foodborne illnesses.
A list of approved cottage foods typically includes the following items:
There's lots of room to create a unique cottage food brand even within the limitations of cottage food law. Start with a free website from Castiron to market your homemade food products.
Selling home cooked food to the public is usually allowed at farmer's markets, fundraising events, and roadside stands. The state typically issues permits under these primary food categories:
While the permitting rules are somewhat universal, the fees and licensing requirements will vary. Some of the most popular items at farmer's markets are artisan bread, homemade cookies, and spice blends. Dog biscuits are another great item to sell at farmer's markets that can fall within cottage food laws.
Using a home cooked food delivery app is another option for a cottage food business, and there are several approaches. Businesses like Blue Apron and Purple Carrot provide a subscription service with meal ingredients and detailed recipes with prep and cooking instructions. Home meal kits are popular, and creative cottage food entrepreneurs may find a perfect niche and legal way to sell homemade food.
If you want to start selling food from home, you can do it. Of course, it will take some research and dedication. But we can help you get started at Castiron with a free website that will remain free. What's more, Castiron comes with a community full of other food entrepreneurs and experts. You don't have to go it alone.
Join Castiron today and get started with your free cottage food website.
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