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What used to be considered a side hustle is now a booming industry in Florida. In fact, selling food from home in Florida is easier than you might think. Since reaching $5 billion in revenue in 2008, cottage food sales have increased to an estimated $20 billion annually.
Florida laws regulating the operation of a cottage food business are fairly straightforward and provided online by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS).
Cottage food operations do not need a permit or license from the FDACS to operate legally in Florida. In addition, kitchens and other areas where cottage food is produced do not require inspection by any Florida government department.
As one of few food operations that do not need permits, Florida cottage food business owners are always exempt from licensing or permits as long as they don't directly sell cottage food from their homes. All cottage food sold must be mailed to customers or sold and then delivered to event venues, such as birthday parties or weddings. If a cottage food seller begins serving customers at their home, Florida considers that a type of restaurant establishment requiring a license and/or permit to operate.
The most important Florida cottage food laws involve what is allowed to be sold as cottage food, and what information should be clearly written or printed on labels:
If you are unsure about a particular ingredient you want to use in making cottage food, check the Cottage Food Operations guide published by the FDACS.
What can a cottage food business owner legally make and sell from their home in Florida?
The most popular cottage foods are pastries, candies, and bread. However, a cottage food business owner can often find a niche for specialty items that customers can't find at the grocery store, such as tree nut butter or dry seasonings. Having a well-developed website that allows for customer feedback or requests can help owners learn what their best selling cottage foods are over time.
All labels identifying a particular cottage food must have the following printed on the label:
The FDACS provides an example of a Florida cottage food label here: template
Regarding taxes and the cottage food law Florida sales tax does not need to be applied to cottage food sales. Florida statute s. 212.08(1), F.S., exempts the sale of food items from sales tax. However, any food-making establishment that provides eating facilities must collect sales tax on items unless the food item is deliberately packaged and sold for off-premises consumption.
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