Explore Michigan cottage food law

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Have you ever wanted to start your own bakery or food business? Starting a cottage food business is a great way to see if a food business is right for you without having to spend a lot of money upfront. In Michigan, you can sell certain baked goods and other food items from your home kitchen, without investing in commercial kitchen equipment or opening a restaurant.

You're not alone. The number of so-called cottage food producers in the United States has skyrocketed in the last few years.  The industry is estimated to be around $20 billion annually, and it continues to grow. All US states and the District of Columbia have laws to regulate home food producers.

Before you open your cottage food business, it's important to know what you can and cannot sell from your home kitchen as well as the nuances of the laws associated with this type of business in your state. The rules governing this type of food business are called cottage food laws. We'll give you an overview of these laws in Michigan. 

Michigan Cottage Food Law

Michigan's cottage food law was enacted in 2010 and revised in 2012 to address the growing number of home bakers who wanted to sell baked goods and a limited number of other products at venues like county fairs and farmers markets. So, just what is cottage food law. Below is a concise overview of these laws in Michigan.

In Michigan, "home" is defined as a primary single family residence. It can be a free-standing home, an apartment or a condo, as long as it is the food seller's primary residence, not a second home or a group home like a sorority or an assisted living facility. It doesn't matter whether the food seller rents or owns the home. You also can't use a vacation cottage, a rented commercial kitchen or even an out-building on your primary property. 

Home bakers are permitted to sell their products at venues like craft fairs, farmers' markets and pop-up selling events. They can also sell at road-side stands and take direct orders. Home food producers in Michigan can deliver the products directly to customers or have customers pick the products up at their home. Home bakers are not permitted to sell their products at third-party venues, such as coffee shops, grocery stores or bakeries or have third parties market their products. Michigan, unlike many other states, also prohibits home bakers from selling their products via the internet or on social media marketplaces.

There is a limit to how much you can sell under Michigan's cottage food law. Per this law, Michigan home food producers cannot gross more than $25,000 annually. They are also required to keep detailed sales records to substantiate this number.

You might be asking yourself, "How much does a cottage food license cost in Michigan?" The good news is that no permit is required to sell products under the Michigan cottage food law. However, the state does recommend that sellers take advantage of the two-hour MSU Cottage Food Law Food Safety Online Training sponsored by Michigan State University. The cottage food law food safety course is accessible 24/7 to those who register and there is no fee for taking the course.

Correct labeling is also important for cottage food sellers. Michigan cottage food law labels must include all of the product's ingredients (listed from the highest weight to the lowest weight) as well as your business name, business address and any common allergens included and the net weight. The label must also include a statement saying the product was "made in a home kitchen that has not been inspected by the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development."

Baked goods and other cottage food items are not subject to sales tax in Michigan.

While not required, the State of Michigan recommends that you have your well tested annually if you use a well for your home water supply. In addition, the Michigan Department of Health recommends that you have your septic system tested annually if you use this type of system for your home's waste water.

Michigan Cottage Food Law List

What is cottage food as defined by Michigan law? Below is a list of foods that are considered cottage food in Michigan. Keep in mind that these are all foods that require no or minimal refrigeration and do not contain ingredients that promote bacteria growth, such as cream cheese or whipped cream.

While some other states allow pickles and tomato-based canned products under cottage food laws, Michigan does not allow these products.

In Michigan, maple syrup and honey is covered via a separate exemption. If you plan to sell these products, you can sell no more than $15,000 annually. (That is in addition to your baked goods and other products listed above.)  Your maple syrup and honey must meet the state's labeling and processing requirements. As with products covered under the cottage law, you can only sell these products directly, not via third-party sellers, such as coffee shops and grocery stores.

Cottage Food Laws By State

Michigan isn't the only US state to have cottage food laws. Every state except for North Carolina, plus the District of Columbia, has some type of cottage food law. Below are a few outlines of what some other states are doing and how their laws compare to the cottage food law in Michigan.

Ohio cottage food laws are similar to those in Michigan.  Similar to Michigan's law, Ohio's cottage food producers do not need a license. As in Michigan, cottage food products in Ohio are no subject to sales tax. Producers in Ohio, however, do need to charge sales tax on any delivery fee.

The cottage food law in NY is unique in that it allows hard candy under its cottage food law, but not candy products made with chocolate. In addition, some dry items sold as cottage food in New York State must use commercially-processed ingredients, such as spices, soup mixes and nut mixes. Like Michigan, New York State does not include pickles in its list of approved foods under the cottage food law. Unlike Michigan and many other states, New York doesn't have a limit to how much a producer may sell under this law. There is no license required in New York for cottage food producers. However, such producers do need to register with the New York State Department of Agriculture. (It's free to register.)

In Texas, those who produce food to sell at home must take a food safety class before they start selling. They also must get a Texas Food Handler's Certificate for $10. The approved foods in Texas are similar to those in Michigan, except that Texas also includes vinegar and mustards. Texas cottage food laws also include strict labeling guidelines. Sales tax isn't charged on baked goods in Texas. 

Florida's cottage food law allows individuals to sell up to $250,000 in approved products each year using a home kitchen without having to get a food permit from the health department. The list of approved foods in Florida is somewhat narrower than the Colorado list, and includes non-hazardous baked goods, dry pasta, nuts, popcorn, candies, honey, jams, fruit pies, herbs, cereals and vinegars.

California's cottage food laws are similar to the law in Michigan and other states we've discussed. Under the California law, which went into effect in 2013, cottage food producers must register with the California Department of Public Health--Food and Beverage Branch plus successfully complete a food safety training course within three months of registering. California's list of approved cottage food products includes such foods that aren't on Michigan's list, such as vanilla extract; icings that don't contain eggs, cream or cream cheese; protein powder shake mixes and mustards. As in Michigan, all cottage foods produced in California must be labeled. 

There are two different cottage food laws in Wisconsin. There's a law governing home-baked goods and also the Pickle Law, which governs some non-perishable canned goods. Under this law, there is no limit to the amount of goods a home-producer can sell, unlike most other states. Wisconsin home bakers are, as of early 2021, allowed to sell "anything that bottom line is baked in the oven and is non-hazardous". Previously, they were restricted to items made using flour.

To learn more about how to sell home-made goods from your home and online, and how our food business software can help you track your sales and be profitable, visit castiron.me.

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