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Selling homemade food in North Dakota has been complicated for some time, but a recent slew of court rulings has simplified everything. The state now allows for a wide range of foods to be made in home kitchens. The major restriction is that the foods must be shelf-stable, and they cannot contain meat.
More important for ND cottage food law is that the food has to be sold directly to the consumer for consumption at home. That last part is different from most states.
The North Dakota Health and Food Department runs food regulation across the state. This is true for commercial operations as well as home kitchens. The department regularly assesses the rules and updates them as needed.
North Dakota does allow for localized restrictions in addition to state rules. Even when complying with state guidelines, it is best to check with local and county offices to ensure compliance is being met across the board.
In North Dakota, you do not need any inspections to sell food made at home. That said, there are restrictions in place, and they must be followed for cottage food production.
First, all cottage foods need to have a special label that identifies them as having been made in a home kitchen and without any inspections.
Second, all foods have to be sold directly to the consumer. Home kitchens cannot make foods that are sold at restaurants or grocery stores (with a special exception for some produce). Additionally, cottage foods cannot be sold via phone or the internet.
Cottage foods include shelf-stable foods, and there is no exhaustive list of what is approved. For the most part, meats and poultry cannot be included in cottage foods, but there are some special exceptions for poultry.
Fargo Health Department
The Fargo Health Department mirrors the state’s rules. While North Dakota does allow for local additions to food regulations, recent legal battles have resulted in Fargo having the same rules as the rest of the state. That is subject to change in the future.
This means that Fargo, like the rest of North Dakota, allows for the cottage food production of any non-meat food. It also allows for the same poultry exceptions as the rest of the state.
How to Get a Business License in North Dakota
To get a business license in North Dakota, one must register with the North Dakota Department of Commerce. Resources are available through the Small Business Development Center and the Institute for Business and Industry Development (run through North Dakota State University).
In order to obtain the license, the application must include the formal structure of the business as well as a detailed business plan. When this is available, one can register the business name and fill out the application. Ultimately, business licenses are granted at the discretion of the state.
Such a license is not needed for a home kitchen.
How to Get a Food License in North Dakota
Food licenses in North Dakota are separate from business licenses. They are covered under food and lodging regulations for the state. Any business pursuing such a license has to submit an application to the state. They will be subject to a business review as well as health inspections.
Commercial food licenses are not available for home kitchens. Instead, the food must be produced at a non-residential location. The food establishment may require additional licensing to serve alcohol and cater to other special circumstances.
North Dakota Food Handlers License
Every food establishment in North Dakota is subject to food handler’s licensing. Anyone who touches food at any part of production or distribution needs this license. That includes cottage kitchens as well.
The license can be obtained by completing a state-approved food handler’s course. The courses do charge for access, and that price can be as low as $10.00.
Keep in mind that a single license cannot cover an establishment. Every individual working in the establishment must complete the course and obtain the certification.
North Dakota Requirements for Food and Beverage Establishments
Food and beverage establishments in North Dakota include places that sell drinks, provide food services, handle retail food sales, manufacture food, process food or manage mobile food (such as food trucks). The regulations are all-encompassing for all of these businesses. That said, each business type may be subject to specific laws.
Cottage food businesses are not subject to these greater regulations. Instead, they are only bound by the specific cottage food laws outlined by the state.
North Dakota Cottage Food Law
The specific law governing cottage foods in North Dakota is HB 1433. It was passed in 2017, and it has been updated several times since. It is commonly called the Food Freedom Bill and originally mirrored Wyoming’s rules.
The health department has tried to increase regulations several times with mixed success. Lawsuits have overturned most of these attempts.
As of 2020, cottage food laws in North Dakota are simple. As long as the food does not require a refrigerator and does not contain meat, it can be made as a cottage food. Most of the regulations refer to how food can be sold. It must be sold inside the state and directly to the consumer. Online and phone sales are not allowed.
The unique regulation in North Dakota is how the food is consumed. Cottage foods can only be sold for at-home consumption. That limits access to vending, such as at an event.
North Dakota Food Safety
North Dakota food safety largely revolves around food handling and distribution. Since so many foods can be made without any inspections, the state is fairly hands-off in that regard. Even so, commercial kitchens are regularly inspected.
Understanding the list of approved cottage foods is easier in North Dakota than in most states. If it does not include meat and does not require refrigeration, it is approved. This allows for many canned items that are banned in most states.
Additionally, specific scenarios even allow for the cottage production of poultry products. Poultry production has to prove to be safe for consumption, and the operation cannot involve more than a set number of birds.
North Dakota cottage food laws can be compared to neighboring states. This helps put the regulations into perspective.
South Dakota largely allows for the home packaging and sale of non-hazardous foods. This mostly applies to fresh fruits and vegetables and dry goods. South Dakota bans cottage food production of anything that requires refrigeration.
Cottage foods can be sold at a number of venues. These venues include farmer’s markets, church bazaars and roadside stands. All cottage food sales must be direct to consumers.
South Dakota Farmers Market Regulations
Farmer’s markets in South Dakota are separately regulated. The regulations include the complete list of allowable foods and how foods must be labeled. For the most part, farmer’s market regulations closely match those of cottage food rules in the state.
Additional licensing is available to expand what can be sold at a farmer’s market. With appropriate licensing, vendors can sell nut butters, honey, eggs, poultry (but less than 20,000 birds per year), alcoholic beverages, meat, fish and juice. Other items may also be licensed for sale at farmer’s markets.
South Dakota Food Vendor License
To handle or sell food in South Dakota, one must obtain a food service license. In order to obtain such a license, one must submit a detailed floor plan of the kitchen. This will be reviewed by the Office of Health Protection. The layout must be approved at least 30 days before a commercial kitchen can begin construction.
Additionally, food vendor licensing runs through the South Dakota Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources.
In Minnesota, cottage food regulations were updated in 2021. After the new rules took effect, cottage food sales saw several changes.
First, the annual cap on gross sales is now $78,000 (which was just $18,000 before). Cottage food businesses can now make pet treats for dogs and cats, as long as they meet other food requirements. A cottage food business can be formally recognized by the state, and food labels have to provide a means of identifying where the food was produced.
Overall, the types of foods that can be produced have not changed, and that list largely includes non-meat products that do not require refrigeration. No license is required to operate a cottage kitchen in Minnesota.
Cottage food in Montana is regulated through the Department of Public Health and Human Services. Rules allow for the production of properly labeled cottage foods.
Cottage food vendors must register with the state and provide a $40 registration fee. Foods can only be sold directly to consumers. Additionally, they must be sold from the producer’s home. Other cottage food sales locations include farmer’s markets and small venues.
Montana allows cottage food production of any food that does not require refrigeration. There is no annual sales limit.
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