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There’s nothing like fresh baked goods straight from the oven. Whether it’s salty, sweet, or something in between, baking is a staple mode of food preparation and has been all over the world for millennia. If you’re a culinary hero whose baking is loved by friends, family, neighbors, and everyone who catches wind of your kitchen, it might seem like a no-brainer to start your own home baking business. You might even consider packaging up your products and selling them online.
Selling baked goods from home is a fantastic idea, especially if you prefer to work from home. But what many people forget is the fact that you will need a baking license for your at-home business. The fact is that anyone could make food at home and sell it online with no regard for the health and safety concerns of their customers. It is the job of the federal and local governments to try to protect the consumer by requiring folks with home baking business ideas to adhere to certain regulations and safety standards.
As the proprietor of a home baking business, you will need a home bakery license in order to show that you are a competent chef, that you understand sanitary requirements and nutritional best practices. You may also be required to demonstrate that you can and do adhere to the sanitary kitchen requirements for a home baking business.
All of this may sound like bad news, but the fact is that it helps you as much as it helps your customers. For a start, it creates a barrier to entry for the sort of person who would rather make an easy buck by selling substandard products to an unsuspecting public. It sets you apart from those who don’t take safe, quality food prep seriously. It shows that you are a trustworthy professional whose goods are worth a try.
If you’ve gotten this far, you may be wondering how to start selling baked goods from home, how to get a license to sell food, and “Do I need a license to sell homemade food?”
According to some states, a cottage food license is “a business conducted by someone who produces or packages food or drink, not including foods and drinks specifically prohibited in a home kitchen or other appropriately designed and equipped kitchen for direct sale by the owner, a family member, or an employee.”
What that tells you right off the bat is that your first step should be to check which food types, preparations, and packaging methods are prohibited in your state or jurisdiction. This is the best first step in determining the best baked goods to sell from home.
In order to obtain and keep your license to sell baked goods from home, you will need to understand the state regulations for such a business. You will also need to know what constitutes a cottage business under the laws of your state.
Our definition quoted above comes from Illinois. But each state has its own standards and regulations. To obtain a permit to sell food from home, visit the home-based food business registration section of your local state government’s website. They will give you everything you need to know when it comes to obtaining bakery licenses and permits.
As stated above, your first step should be to check with and adhere to the regulatory requirements of your state. Second, understand that the fees and logistics of obtaining your licensing and permits will be part of the cost of opening a home bakery. So you need to factor these costs into your budget and price scheme.
In some states, the official home-based food business registration website may be vague or even nonexistent. If that is the case, you may need to hire an attorney to help you work out how to get a permit to sell food from home.
Once you locate the right channels to go through, you’ll need to fill out a cottage food license application. You may be required to take a test, submit to visits from health inspectors, and pay fees for the process. Once again, this will raise your operating costs, but when starting a home-based food business, it sets you apart from those who don’t care about quality.
Visit your state government’s home food business website. A simple Google search should take you there. Make sure you understand how to sell food from home legally in your state, and consider obtaining legal counsel if your state’s website does not give explicit instruction in how to do this.
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