Why Do We Need A Cottage Food Law?
“Cottage Food Laws” are different for every state so home-based bakers and food processors must check with their individual state regulatory agency, which might be their State Department of Agriculture or their local health department to learn about specific rules, regulations and labeling requirements for processing and selling food processed in a home kitchen. It should be noted that there are states that have no “Cottage Food Law” and do not allow under any condition the processing of foods from the home kitchen; in those states a licensed commercial kitchen must be used.
A “Cottage Food Law” may or may require that a home-based baker/home food processor not be exempt from inspection and licensing; it will dependin on the state in which the food processor resides. For example in the state of North Carolina a compliance officer from the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services will come to the food processor’s home and inspect it. In addition, many food products, including those produced and packaged by a “Cottage Food Production Operation”, may be subject to a food label inspection, food sampling conducted by the regulatory agency involved to determine if a food product is misbranded or contaminated.
It should also be mentioned that, not all areas of a state allow home food processing, for example in many urban areas of Pennsylvania you cannot bake or process foods from the home kitchen; it is limited to specific counties and rural communities.
Not all state or local laws are the same and it is the responsibility of the individual food processor to learn what laws and regulations are applicable to their community. Food processors are allowed to sell their products at Farmer’s Markets, to the general public and in some cases wholesale and online depending on the regulatory agency rules for sales and distribution.