Is selling food from home legal?

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Laws on Selling Food From Home

Have you ever been told your jams or baked goods are so good you should sell them? Or maybe you've been thinking about selling food from home, but you don't know how to sell homemade food legally. Or maybe you would like to make some money on the side that would help bolster your income.

When it comes to selling food from home, you're in luck. At one time, the laws on selling food from home were prohibitive, but most states have since adopted cottage food laws that allow you to sell food legally from your home. When it comes to selling homemade food, cottage food laws limit you to selling food that is less likely to spoil or cause food-borne illnesses. Allowable products do not need to be refrigerated and are pre-packaged such as baked goods, dried herbs, teas, and preserves. Small businesses that sell cottage food are normally limited to sales below a certain dollar amount. In many states the amount is around $20,000, but in some states, the amount you can make is up to $50K.

Since cottage food laws vary from state to state, it's important to contact your state's Department of Agriculture to ensure that your small business follows the law. The cottage food laws in Florida in 2020 may vary substantially from those cottage food laws in Colorado. The cottage food law in Florida may require you to have a sales tax license, whereas in Montana you do not have to have a sales tax license. Florida does not require you to have a cottage food license, whereas California requires permits and registrations. You may be thinking about selling food online and looking for an app for selling home cooked food only to discover your state does not allow Internet sales. Many states require you to have a food handling permit or take a food handling course. Lastly, many states require labels on their food. Florida offers cottage food label templates for those in the cottage food industry.

Penalty For Selling Food Without A Permit

Maybe you think you're only going to sell some baked goods occasionally, or maybe your chickens are producing a few too many eggs in the spring, and you aren't planning on selling the eggs that often. Do you really have to go through the hassles of getting a permit? Is it illegal to sell food without a permit in a state that requires it? The short answer is yes. Depending on the state, you can face hefty fines and even jail time for selling food without a permit. For example, the penalty for selling food without a license in Texas can be pretty severe, as one Carrollton mom discovered when she innocently tried to sell tamales to her neighbors on Nextdoor without realizing she needed one. The City of Carrollton sent her a warrant arrest notice and fined her $700. The penalty for selling food without a permit in places like North Carolina, which does not even have a cottage food law, can be severe as well. It is important that you find out what laws govern selling food from your home and whether you need a license or permit doing so.

Selling Home Cooked Food To The Public

You've been asking yourself, “Can I sell food from my house?” or maybe “can you sell homemade food online?” Selling home cooked food to the public has its pitfalls, among which are the local laws. Selling food from your home in California as of 2020, for example, not only requires permits, licenses, training courses in food safety, and health department inspections, but also zoning variances to your home. When you hold out to the public, whether you're selling food from home in Florida or selling food from home in Illinois, you are now a commercial enterprise and if your home isn't zoned for commercial use, you are likely to face stiff fines, building condemnation, and even jail time. Knowing what is legal in your state, such as having a cottage food list in Florida, will help you narrow down what you can sell where you live.

Even if you don't have laws against selling food out of your home, would you want to? Residential areas often become congested because they were not designed to handle the amount of traffic a retail establishment might attract. Will customers use your front door to pick up food, or do you have an alternative entrance? What times will you be open? Does your family feel comfortable having strangers visit when selling dinners out of your home? If you're in India, you need to understand not only how to sell homemade food on Swiggy, but also how to deliver it to a customer. And if you're selling food from home in Ontario, what are the laws governing cottage foods in Canada?

Thinking about selling homemade food on Amazon? That's great, but you're going to have to think about packaging and fulfillment. The food you sell will have to be nonperishable and capable of withstanding a trip not just across town, but internationally. Lastly, be aware that different venues have different regulations. You may have very different regulations selling food at a flea market in Florida than you would at your home.

Permit To Sell Food From Home

You've decided it's a good idea to sell food from your home, but if you live in a state that requires a cottage food permit, it's unlikely you'll find many food operations that do not need permits. The best way to get a permit to sell food from home is to contact your state's Department of Agriculture and find out how to get a permit to sell food from home. Some states, such as Washington State, require you not only to get a cottage food license ($230), but also a business license ($19), a food worker card ($10 plus training costs), and have your water tested if you are not on a municipal water system. The fine for selling food without a permit in Washington State can be quite severe, even if the cost of a cottage food license is expensive. It is a misdemeanor to sell food without a license and the fines can cost up to $1000 per incident per day.

You may wonder how to get a permit to sell food on the street. In this case, the municipality where you're planning on selling the food will issue you a vendor's license. These licenses may need additional permits to ensure safe food handling. You may also wonder do you need a permit to sell food from home. Many states do not require permits, licenses, or other paperwork to sell cottage foods, however, those states that do require permits often have rules regarding selling food from home. For example, you need a permit to sell food from home in California.

Do I Need A License To Sell Food From My Home?

“Do I need a license to sell homemade food?” you might wonder. Not all states require you to have a license selling food if the food meets the definition of a cottage food. Only when the food is not considered a cottage food by the state's definition and the amount of money made is more than what falls under a cottage food small business do you need a license in those states that don't require one normally. Depending on where you sell your food may also determine whether you need a license or not. You cannot, for example, sell your products to restaurants, stores, or third parties. You are most likely limited to selling your food from your home, a farmer's market, or a roadside stand. In some cases, you may need a vendor's license to sell in certain places.

If you're wondering, "Do I need a license to sell food from my home?" or how to get a license to sell food, check with your state's Department of Agriculture to find out what the state's laws are regarding licensing. You may also want to check what type of food is covered under the cottage food definition and do you need a license to sell baked goods from home. In many cases, the definition between cottage food and a full commercial venture is the scale of operations and the amount of money you make selling your goods. For example, if your distribution or sales exceeds the cottage food definition in Florida for baked goods, you will need a Florida bakery license. While you do not need a food license in Florida, for those wondering "do I need a license to sell homemade food in California," the answer is yes.

Selling Homemade Food Online

Maybe selling homemade food from your house doesn't appeal to you. Instead, you may want to consider selling homemade food online. Selling prepackaged food online has a lot of benefits. You don't have to have strangers come to your home to buy your products. You don't have to show up at a farmer's market or run a roadside stand. However, selling homemade food online whether in the Philippines or the United States has its positives and negatives. Some states don't allow cottage food to be sold online and still be considered cottage food. Other states may allow Internet sales, but you must deliver locally. Even with these potential limitations, you can still expand your business through online selling. Placing ads on Craigslist or other online sales boards can attract customers you might not reach at farmer's markets and other venues. If you're wondering how to sell home cooked food online, this could be a place to do it, provided that it is legal in your area. Plus, you have a greater reach in customers than you would one-on-one.

Additional Resources

Cottage Food Law Michigan | Cottage Food Law Wisconsin | Cottage Food Laws Florida | Cottage Food License | Cottage Food Sales Tax | Cottage Industry Laws | Home Food Laws | Laws About Selling Homemade Food | Laws on Selling Food From Home | License to Cook and Sell Food From Home | Microenterprise Home Kitchen Operations | Permit to Sell Food From Home | Permit to Sell Food From Home California | Rules for Selling Food From Home

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