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Each state enforces statutes called "cottage food laws" that provide guidance for people who want to sell food from their homes. The production, marketing, and sales of processed foods are governed by individual state regulations that involve what kind of foods can be sold from home, sanitation practices that must be adhered to, and where cottage foods can be sold legally outside the home.
Selling food from home in Connecticut is permitted as long as the person abides by cottage food laws found on the Connecticut Department of Health website. For more specific answers to questions about cottage food operations Connecticut and selling food from home CT, residents should call the state's Department of Health.
Cottage Food Labels
All cottage food sold by individuals with a home bakery license CT must be identified by labels that contain the following information:
Connecticut cottage food laws accept hand-written labels but they must be written in permanent ink and completely legible. Hand-written labels must also adhere to the font size requirements of printed labels.
To receive their cottage food license CT residents must complete the following:
The answer to how long does it take to get a cottage food license depends on whether all paperwork is correctly completed and the cottage food baker is in compliance with food safety program protocols. In most cases, a CT home food license is typically issued in less than six months.
Connecticut cottage food laws include special requirements regarding the use of water that comes from a well:
Cottage food producers cannot use commercial equipment to make their foods. Connecticut cottage food laws state that private kitchens do not have the kind of large sinks needed to thoroughly wash and sanitize large pieces of food processing equipment.
Cottage food operators in Connecticut do not have to use refrigerators, stoves, or other food-preparing devices that do not meet NSF standards. An international organization established in 1944, the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) establishes food equipment standards for maximizing the design, construction, and safety of all types of food equipment. Commercial food equipment often bears the stamp of NSF in accordance with certain state and federal regulations.
According to the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection, the following foods are potentially acceptable cottage foods that can be sold in the state:
A "potentially hazardous food" is an edible item that requires temperature-controlled environments and specific cook times to prevent the growth of pathogenic microorganisms in the food. Cheesecake is excluded as a non-potentially hazardous food because it contains cream cheese, a dairy product that spoils quickly and can cause food poisoning.
Connecticut considers canned or cooked fresh vegetables as potentially hazardous foods since cooked vegetables are a combination of acidified food and low acid. Cooked vegetables are "ineligible" for being produced and sold under any new Connecticut cottage food law.
For individuals with a cottage food operator permit CT can immediately pull their license if the food operator is found to be selling ineligible or hazardous foods.
Connecticut cottage food laws have strict guidelines regarding the use of buttercream frosting. Approved buttercream frosting:
Yes, the online sale of cottage foods is legal in Connecticut. Producers can also advertise and accept orders online, but they must deliver products directly to consumers living within the state of Connecticut. Accepting orders and delivering cottage food items must be a person-to-person transaction. Connecticut cottage food laws forbid the delivery of cottage foods via USPS mail, FedEx, UPS, mobile-food ordering businesses, or any other third-party delivery service.
It is illegal for CT cottage food operators to sell their products to wholesalers, distributors, or brokers who intend to resell their products.
Free samples of cottage food products can be legally served as long as the producer has approval from their local health department.
Individuals with a CT cottage food operator permit cannot sell goods in restaurants, grocery stores, daycare facilities, long-term care/nursing home facilities, or schools.
The importance of maintaining detailed records cannot be understated. If someone is sickened by cottage food, state inspectors will investigate the seller of that particular cottage food. A cottage food baker should always keep accurate records of the following:
Connecticut caps the amount a cottage food producer can earn annually at $25,000. Depending on how a person's cottage food business is structured, a "Doing Business As" (DBA) may be needed. Some local municipalities may require a DBA as well. The business start-up tool provided by the CT Secretary of State would be the place to start the process of obtaining a DBA.
DBA is also called "Fictitious Name Filing" because it indicates a business is operating under a name different from the business owner. For example, if Mary Hill is operating her cottage food business as " Susie's Sweets", she should file as a DBA. In other words, the legal name of the company is Mary Hill's Cottage Foods but she wants to advertise as Susie's Sweets.
Connecticut cottage food producers can file for a Trade Name Certificate (DBA) here.
The CT Department of Consumer Protection doesn't collect tax information from cottage food business owners. However, all businesses operating in the state of Connecticut must fill out a Business Taxes Registration Form and mail it to the CT Department of Revenue Services.
Reasons for filing a Business Taxes Registration Form include:
Cottage Food Law Sales Tax: Do I Need to Charge Sales Tax on Baked Goods?
Yes. Currently, the sales tax on cottage foods is 7.35%. Connecticut defines taxable meals as "food and beverages sold for human consumption at the seller's location and food products sold in form/portions that are ready for immediate consumption near or at the seller's location".
While not required by law, liability insurance for producers in the cottage food industry is essential for protecting the producer from potentially expensive legal issues. Liability insurance helps pay for damages arising from lawsuits involving contaminated food, customers suffering allergic reactions to unlisted allergens, and other types of third-party injuries. Alternately, product liability insurance covers the cost of replacing equipment used in the process of making and packaging cottage foods.
According to a recent review of cottage food laws in the U.S. by Harvard Law School's Food Law and Policy Clinic, state food cottage laws vary significantly with several exceptions. For example, most food cottage laws provide a list of permissible food products, have clear rules where cottage food products may be sold, and require licenses and/or permits to operate a cottage food business. Other standardized laws include labeling regulations and revenue caps that determine when the owner must relocate to a commercial facility.
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