Turning the family recipe into a business: Labeling your cottage food products

Labeling your cottage food correctly to sell at farmers markets means following special guidelines developed by the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

When you plan on selling a cottage food at a farmers market or in some other way where you are selling directly to the customer, you must follow labeling guidelines for Michigan cottage foods.

Cottage foods, as defined by Michigan law, are non-potentially hazardous foods that do not require time and or temperature control for safety. Examples include products as bread, sweet breads and muffins, cakes, cookies, popcorn, fruit pies, dry herbs, coated nuts, jams and jellies in glass jars that can be stored at room temperature, dried pasta, cotton candy, dry dip and soup mixes, dehydrated vegetables and fruits, hard candies and some dry bulk mixes.

Cottage food labeling guidelines in Michigan stem from the Michigan Food Law. The Michigan Food Law is based on the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Title 21. The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) is responsible for ensuring that products sold in Michigan are labeled correctly, regardless of where they are sold in Michigan.

If you fall under the Michigan Cottage Food Law and want to sell directly to the customer, MDARD provides the following label guidelines for your food product:

  • Eleven-point font (about 1/8" tall) in a color that contrast with the background
  • Name and address of the cottage food operation
  • Name of the cottage food product
  • The ingredients of the cottage food product, in descending order of predominance by weight with sub-ingredients of already prepared ingredients listed out
  • The net weight or net volume with metric conversion
  • Allergens noting: milk, eggs, wheat, peanuts, soybeans, fish/seafoood and tree nuts
  • The following statement: "Made in a home kitchen that has not been inspected by the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development"

For more detailed information, visit the following site: MDARD Michigan Cottage Foods Information.

The Michigan State University (MSU) Product Center provides nutrition labels and assistance to help Michigan entrepreneurs develop and commercialize high-value, consumer-responsive products and businesses in the value-added agriculture, food and natural resources sectors.

For more information, visit the MSU Product Center website or call 517-432-8750.

See the first installment of this article series: “Turning the family recipe into a business: Licensing starts with food safety

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