Cottage Food Law basics to earn extra income

Grow your budding food business this summer under the Cottage Food Law.

Do you have family favorite jam or jelly recipe that you feel you could manufacture and sell? Are you looking to test the waters and try your hand at a food based business? If so, you may be a possible Cottage Food entrepreneur.

The 2010 Michigan Cottage Food Law allows non-potentially hazardous foods that do not require time and/or temperature control for safety to be produced in a home kitchen for direct sale to customers at farmers markets, roadside stands or other direct markets. Since the law doesn't require inspections of home kitchens, food producers are limited to the types of food they can produce. Cottage food producers are restricted on the type of food manufactured, gross profits and method of sale.

Cottage food producers are limited to producing food that doesn’t require time and/or temperature control for safety. Examples of cottage foods include: Jam/jellies, breads, baked goods, cookies, cakes, vinegars and items covered in chocolate. Unallowable foods include fruit butters, pickles, canned fruits/vegetables, oil mixtures, etc. These foods are not allowed under the law because they require time and temperature control for safety and can only be safely produced in a licensed kitchen. Labeling is prescribed for cottage foods and detailed directions are provided by Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD).

Foods can only be produced in a single family domestic residence. Cottage foods can be produced in a house, apartment or condominium regardless if you own or rent the home. You can’t produce cottage food in a group home. Cottage food producers are also limited to $20,000 in gross sales each year.

Under the Cottage Food Law you are also limited in the method of sale. Cottage foods may only be sold by the producer directly to the consumer at farmers’ markets, farm stands and roadside stands, or from your home. Cottage foods are not allowed to be sold to a retailer for resale or use in a restaurant. Cottage foods also can’t be sold over the Internet or mail order to other food distributors. The transaction must be face to face so the producer can directly communicate with the purchaser.

Michigan State University Extension provides an online class for individuals interested in starting a cottage food business as well as community based classes. Increasing your knowledge about the cottage food law and stirring in your award winning jelly is the recipe for success for your Cottage Food Law business!

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