Understanding the Michigan Food Law - How to start a business in your home kitchen
February 19, 2021
Welcome everyone. Good morning. It's Friday, the last day of our MI AG ideas to Grow With Conference. And we are really excited to have you here this morning to talk about Cottage Foods. So I'm going to introduce our speaker in just a minute. But I wanted to show our short video that we've been doing in the beginning of the session. So our video today is about farm food safety. I'm going to stop my screen share for just a second and we'll get that video loaded up for you. Just a quick reminder that our sessions are being recorded today. So if you don't want your face on the recording, you can go ahead and keep your video off. But otherwise, we welcome you to turn that on. We love to see who's in the room today if you're comfortable with that. And also if you have a microphone unmuted, you will also be, you would also be potentially on the recording too. So just an FYI. Alright we're gonna get this video loaded up. Ooh, produce safety education, that looks fun. If you are new to farming or I've never attended a farm food safety training. A good first step is to take some time to learn about Produce Safety, good agricultural practices and the Food Safety Modernization Act produce safety rule. The MSU Extension agrifood safety website has videos and other training materials to get you started. Hey, did That's a risk assessment. Now that sounds exciting. Want to stop? Sure but you don't have to be a thrill seeker to make this next step. Now that you have a background in farm produce safety concepts, the next step is to apply them to your farm. The Michigan produce safety risk assessment is a free and confidential program delivered by trained produce safety technicians around the state. Once you have identified your farms food safety risks, the next step is to write policies and procedures for how you will address these risks. It's a good idea to have a written food safety plan. Don't worry, there are templates and resources available to guide you on the MSU Extension agrifood safety website. Wow, look at all the cars at that place. That definitely looks like a party. Let's stop in and see what everyone is up to. The Food Safety Modernization Act, produce safety rule includes a set of regulations that apply to fresh produce growers. If you are covered under the rule, at least one individual from your farm must complete a FSMA, produce safety rule grower training course, such as those offered for free by Michigan State University Extension and the Michigan on-farm produce safety team. Hey, do you recognize that car pulling in the driveway? They look friendly. Oh, that's your friends from the Michigan on farm produce safety team. I bet they're here to help you with your on-farm readiness review. On-farm readiness reviews or OFRRs are low pressure. They are free, voluntary, and confidential. And they're designed to help fresh produce growers feel prepared and ready for meeting the FSMA produce safety rule requirements. A small team of local produce safety technicians and MSU extension educators will help you bring your produce safety plans to life and assess any produce safety risks that might exist by walking around your farm and discussing your current practices and plans. Some buyers may require you to obtain a third party food safety certification if your buyer requires USDA GAP Certification, the Michigan group GAP network is an option to achieve USDA GAP certification in a supportive educational environment. To learn more, you can go to MI Group, Gap.com. What a day. It's good to be home. But that was an awesome trip. Thanks so much for coming along with me. Alright, So that was your little food safety minute this morning. And if you're curious to learn more about food safety, please visit the MSU Extension website and search for food safety. We have a lot of resources available for you, for both on the farm and also for consumer food safety. Alright, So let's get into it this morning. We have a great presentation for you about the Cottage Food Law this morning. And I didn't introduce myself yet. I'll do that. My name is Mariel Boardman and I am a community food systems educator with Michigan State University Extension. I work and the Southwest Michigan region. And I'm really excited to introduce Kendra Wills is my colleague from MSU Extensions. Kendra is from MSU product Center and is here today to talk to us about the cottage food law. So I will turn it over to Kendra. You walk us through your presentation. Thanks Kendra. Kendra we're seeing your presenter view right now and you're muted. Alright, I knew I would mess that up. One second here and share the other screen. Okay. Good morning. Is this the right screen? Yep your good, Okay. Good. All right. Well, welcome everybody to Michigan Cottage Food Law. My name is Kendra and I'd like to ask you to hold questions to the end. And I hope we have a lot of really great questions and discussion. And I'm going to get through these 57 slides pretty quickly. And I do want to notice this is going to be recorded so you can review it. And we do have an online Cottage Food Law course available through MSU Extension too, that goes more in depth. And it's a self-paced course that cost $20 that you can view anytime you like. And I'll put up the link at the end. So if you feel like this is going too fast, you want more in-depth resources, we can connect you. So with that, I'll go. The first thing that we have to explain to you that our programs are open to all. We try and not discriminate based on any bases at all. And if you ever have a question about the availability of our programs for those with special needs, feel free to contact us and we will make arrangements. Great now ins not moving, I think I have to put there. How to start a successful Cottage Food Law business. We normally teach this in partnership with our food and nutrition instructors. Today we have a shortened version for you. So you've just got me. I work as a food business counselor and work with many Cottage Food Law businesses in the Grand Rapids region over to Muskegon, a few in Ionia, and some down in Southwest Michigan. More, more clients up in the Grand Rapids, the region, but a few and Southwest. And feel free to contact me at anytime my e-mail address and my cell phone are listed at the beginning and at the end if you have follow-up questions. So today we're going to talk about the law. Some safe food practices for making products. Really marketing, sales, building your business. And again, at the end, I really hope we have time for a really good questions and discussions about projects. So the Michigan Cottage Food law allows people to make certain kinds of foods and sell them out of their home, kitchen environment. And so you can be selling out of your home. And you can also be in some markets. So we'll talk about sales. These are the products that we often see under Cottage foods in the Department of Agriculture has a wonderful cottage food law web page that explains the law in depth. We will reference that page at the end, and I usually find it by Google. But all these kinds of foods are listed on the website, jams and jellies, except anything with peppers, any kind of vegetable jelly is not allowed under the cottage food law. Breads, cookies, fruit pies, vinegars, roasted coffee beans are allowed. Dry herbs of any kind, spice blends, pasta, cotton candy, pre-packaged, pre-packaged popcorn, and pre-packaged chocolate covered items are all allowed. What is not allowed? Anything that has to be refrigerated, anything that needs temperature control. So that is really what's not allowed. So these are the, some of the excluded things that people think would fall under cottage food laws. Something like pies with pumpkin or creams that you just saw. Anything with vegetables, any kind of pickle, any kind of any kind of vegetable, any kind of Actually canned vegetables. So canning pears and selling them under cottage with us now allowed you need a food license. So just because it wouldn't be allowed under Cottage Food law doesn't mean you can't do it. It just means you need to apply for a food processing license from the Department of Agriculture to make these kinds of products. So if you're just interested in working out of your home and not working under a license. You need to follow the cottage food law. So there are some restrictions and this is coming up and our first chat and so I'll have Mariel maybe help me monitor. So put in the chat and this is just a fun thing. Put in the chat how much you think the law allows in sales of Cottage Food each year? There is a restriction. If you can put in the chat. Do you have anybody entering? This is the one bad thing about sharing my screen. 2 guesses for B 1 for 20,000. D Alright, Yep, D is right. D. This was raised, it used to originally be B. So I think maybe the person the answered B maybe knew the original law, but they just increased it maybe a couple years ago to D, $25,000 a year. So that's a pretty good amount of sales that you're allowed to do under the Cottage Food Law out of your home kitchen under those restrictions. Kendra just a quick question, Is that gross sales or net sales? It is gross sales! I was just going there its gross sales. So you cannot subtract out your ingredient costs. It's total sales without expenses, gross. Absolutely. That's what the law is. So this is where we had some discussion before presentation started at point of sale. So we say that the law says no online sales can be conducted, but there are some online payment methods like PayPal and Venmo and, and things that are acceptable through the Michigan Department of Agriculture. So we can take payment online, but the actual giving of the product must happen. And what we say is eyeball, the eyeball because it's a really good visual for you to have in mind. Can you see your customer face to face at some point in the transaction? If it's not the exchange of money, the transaction because they're paying you, be a Venmo. You must deliver the goods face-to-face. I give an example of the time of wedding cakes. So those can be made under the cottage food law, somebody pays you 300 dollars to make them wedding cake, be a Venmo or PayPal. And then you're delivering that wedding cake in person the day of the wedding, that is perfectly acceptable. What the Department of Agriculture does not want you to do is take payment online and ship the product, like we see traditional online sales operating. They do not want that under Cottage Food law happening. So they must there must be some kind of face-to-face interaction. And the Department of Agriculture does not want cottage food businesses to donate products to food pantries or to other for other purposes. They don't want you to have that label which we'll get in then that into the food system. So here's another quick chat. Are those making cottage foods exempt from Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development licensing and expectations. And this is just a yes. Now, what do you think? Are you exempt from licensing annex inspections? Yes. Lots of yeses. But lots of yeses. Great. Yes is the answer. And look at all those bright sun, I even have a curtain and when confidence in that, yes, you're right. That is true. That is one advantage. So because you're not subject to any licensing, no one's factor is going to be showing up at your house. We really try and teach some safe food handling practices when we're working with cabbage for a lot of businesses because we don't want anybody to become sick of a food product that's made from you. Most of the foods are very low risk, very safe foods that don't tend to grow bacteria or don't have cross-contamination risks. But we don't want you to have anybody come back to you and your business and make a claim that they were made. So we're going to go through quickly some causes of foodborne illnesses, poor personal hygiene, cross-contamination, and improperly sanitize equipment. So what do we mean by that? Well, first of all, keeping your cold product's cold and the and the refrigerator, making sure your refrigerator is at 41 degrees or lower. Making sure your freezer is at 0 or lower than some very first step. Making sure you're cleaning your products before you, especially produce, lensing them with water only before you're handing them. Using only food grade packaging. Looking for cracks and chips and jars, sanitizing jars, washing, using hat, bass and making sure it gets up to boiling. Making sure your clean before you're dealing with your Cottage Food Lab business, making sure all your fingernails, even nail polish, which in my household my daughter loves nail polish HQ and chip and crack and break hairs back. You're working in an environment that you see out in the restaurants. Your aprons are clean, everything is clean. You're not working with dangling earrings. I could get into the food. You're not L69 or touching your face or cross contaminating your utensils when you're using them. Really make sure your hands are clean. You're not reusing any paper towel that you use throughout the cleaning process, which I do that when I'm at home cooking, I will admit that I am a Skipper and paper towel because it's become so scarce. But when you're making cottage food law, you have to elevate your practices that you're making food for other people and not necessarily just for you or your own home residents, that you're really stepping up your sanitization. You're really using bleach and water, we'll get into that. And you're allowing things to air dry or scrubbing counter's. You're using cupboards and equipment, you know, that are all cleaned off before you're starting your business. So here's the bleach slide. We want the concentration to be a 100 parts per million in using test strips is what our nutrition staff teachers. So we have Gordon food service stores around us. Any kind of food supply store has those test strips. And you can see from the strip if the concentration of bleach is accurate. And this is the sanitization step that we teach that this is what really kills germs. It's not necessarily the cleaning power, it's the sanitization step that cleans. It kills the germs. We want you to keep a log of when you're making products, who made them, where the ingredients were purchased from the date that you made them. You can keep that on paper or online, it's up to you, but this is just a really good best practice. This is what food businesses do. And I was explaining to Mariel few years ago there was a recall on flower. So that probably impacted a lot of Cottage Food lot businesses because I think it was Gold Medal flour, some very widespread brand of flour knows as salmonella risk. So you want to make sure, did you have one of those batches of flour? Did you make product? Did you make a wedding cake with that batch of flour? And should you make sure if it was in your pantry, throw it out and make sure where it went. Make sure that people are notified to how to make a three compartments thing for the sanitization step here, some images about how to do that. It's not very sophisticated. Any kind of tub or drying rack to be able to sanitize and lead to air dry. This is really a key element of the attitude that, so this is what makes for your product stand out as special. You must have a statement, an 11 point font or larger, that it is made in a home kitchen that has not been inspected by the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. They will not accept not made in a home kitchen not inspected or something shorter than that. It has to be that statement and read it. You have to have a statement of identity of what the product is. You have to have your name and your dress. Yes, your home address has to go on your label. Your ingredients with your sub ingredients and sub ingredients are in the parentheses. So the flower that they used has all of these ingredients from the package on a flower. So you have to list all the ingredients from the package because if somebody has a food sensitivity, they need to know what ingredients are in the ingredients you used. So that's why does sometimes the ingredients can get really long, even though people want it to be flour, sugar, salt, eggs now, but it's not always that simple. You have to have an allergen statement. There's common eight allergens and you can look those up. And this, you can see this product has five allergens in it. And you also have to have a net weight listed in ounces and in grams on your packets. So these are the required elements. This is the example on the webpage of the Cottage Food Law web page. I'm trying to distract that sun getting through. So some sampling. Can you provide samples if you were selling in a farmers market or at a craft show or set up at a table in a store somewhere. Yes, you can. We want you to pre-package those samples in your home kitchen so they're individuals servings already prepared. We don't want you cutting, slicing, doing any kind of manipulating of food at the event. We want all that work done before. And the reason is we don't want any cross-contamination. And sometimes if you're doing some food slicing or preparing, it may require a license from the health department depending on how, what level of your manipulating your food. So by prepackaging your samples, putting them in those little souffle cups, putting a cover on them, you're covered ahead of time, it's just the best practice for sampling, Storing your food. Some people run out of room. Can you put it in your shed out back? No, they do not want you to do that. And the reason is cross-contamination, risk of rodents and insects and heat damage. They don't want any of your ingredients of any of your products being stored. Basements are okay. Kitchens are okay. A lot of people are using those plastic tupperware tubs and labeling them with their Cottage Food business. Keeping them in a separate area so they're not spread all mixed in with your home flour, for example, or chocolate chips. What you use in your home and what you use for your business are kept separate. That is the best practice. Having a clean vehicle to transport food in. It's a best practice. That's what the Department of Agriculture doesn't want to see any contamination risk from being in transport. And that involves pet hair, which my car is full of that. So that would be hard for me to do that. We're going to get into marketing a little bit. So picking a product, a place, a price, a promotion strategy. We call these the four P's of business that really are targeting your target customer. Thinking about that ahead of time, thinking about how you do you stand apart from others. Who is your target customer? And it can't be anybody that eats cookies, it just can't. You have to really narrow in. Who is it? Is it a location? Is it an age group? Is it a family lifestyle? is it a specific flavor of sweets that somebody likes? What makes your product unique? There are a lot of makers of cookies and baked goods popcorns. What makes your product stand out? Why would somebody come back? I mean, one thing is to buy your product once. The other thing is to get customers keeping, coming back and relying on you for their baked goods or for their cookies for their special event or for their popcorn. We understand that package is a huge part of of a decision-making process. If the customer is going to buy, particularly customers that don't know you, it's one thing to be able to sell to family and friends. The other thing is to be able to sell to people that don't know you and have them keep coming back. So there are packaging perceptions. One in this graphic, look store-bought, one looks homemade. What is the perception that you're trying to come across at? And it depends on who your target customer is, depends on where you're selling your product, depends on the price of the product. Know that colors mean something. We see bright colors. Kids, fun, parties, darker, rich colors, more gourmet, more appetite specialty. Green kind of signals health. White is kind of a diet or light kind of perception that it's not heavy food. A metallic is another upscale just like the dark, rich colors. Luxury, if you see those holograph stickers, I'm seeing those on products more, those are kind of luxury or gourmet signals. If you're looking at farmers markets, the Michigan Farmers Market Association has a wonderful resource on their web page. It's find a farmers markets. So you can type in a city, a county, all these aspects and find the farmers markets that are there. Now maybe every single market in Michigan isn't listed, but there are a lot of them on that resource. So you can contact the market managers. You can look online. Not every farmer's market will take Cottage Food Law businesses. So you really have to make sure that they're going to accept Cottage Food Law businesses. In Grand Rapids. our market only accepts them on an artisan market day, which is Sunday at the Fulton Street Farmers Market. So you just really have to understand that not always are you going to be allowed to sell every single day? That is common in bigger cities. So each market is unique and has its own rules. This one might have some features on it. Yeah, here we go. So everybody in the farmer's market may have different licensing. So not everybody has the standard license. Somebody could have a wholesale license through the Department of Agriculture. Somebody could have a health department license. Somebody could be operating under Cottage Food. Somebody could have a nursery. There's a whole slew of different licensing and you just have to realize that. That the farmers market is not, not a place where all the same rules are applying. So if you talk to somebody and they say, well, that didn't apply to me, I didn't have to do that. Well, that they may not have the same license as somebody under the health department and Department of Ag are different. So just, just now that people are playing under different roles, We always encourage you to think about how you're going to sell your product. What we display look like. Using your vertical space. This woman has a funny hat on so she was kinda remember the person in the green and white hat that I had these special products, I had special spice blends or barbecue or whatever she's selling there. It sticks out in your mind that she had a funny hat on and that you might want to go back and visit her. Always take advantage of customer interactions by collecting their email addresses if you can, if their paying over PayPal or Square, which is acceptable at the market, you can collect their email addresses at that point in time. You can contact them over social media, over email, let them know you have new flavors. You're accepting orders for products. Social media is so big in the food world today you almost can't have a food business without it. Unfortunately, we have just become so connected that way to our customer base and having a strategy where you're telling people about, about your products so they can keep remembering you. So we want to make sure that you're really going to make money at this. Are you going to make a profit? How much time are you going to devote? What are your goals? Is this just a side business or do you really want it to become your full-time business? Setting those goals through a business plan in advance there are a lot of free, great resources for business plans. SBDC has wonderful online webinars that are prerecorded talking about business plan developments, or has a template that's available. And you can see a whole bunch of - just Googled free business plan templates. You'll get a bunch of websites to come up. One of the decisions you may need to think about when formalizing your business. Do you want it to be a sole proprietorship, owned just by you? Do you want it to be a partnership? Do you want it to be a liability LLC? Some kind of corporation and non-profit cooperatives, these are the kind of formal business entities to think about. There are some resources to read more about this and we talk a little bit more about this on our online course. If you're a sole proprietorship, you only need to really file a "doing business as" with your County Clerk's office, or City Clerk's office, if you're operating in a city or if you want to form an LLC, you know that right away you can file that paperwork with the state for $50 fee. We really encourage you to do a name search in Michigan, so we don't want people to have the same name like my dog's name is Bailey. That's a very common name. So Bailey's Cookies probably has taken somewhere by somebody. If I was doing pet treats which is not allowed under Cottage Food, by the way, no kind of pet treats. You have to have a license for that. So I would recommend that you really go online, check Michigan corporation name search. That's what you can Google. I find most of these over Google and make sure that nobody else has those. Filing for an EIN, which is what you need to have for a bank account, is free and that's through the IRS. You type in the name of your company or corporation, then you get a free number. And we want you to have a business bank account to keep your personal assets separate from your business. It's just better for your personal liability. And we're going to talk about insurance and just better business practice. So talking with experts, talking with, you know, if you have accountants and attorneys in your personal network or you have friends that know, Yeah. Own businesses that have resources for you. We want, you'll be required to have liability insurance if you want to sell in farmers markets, they need proof of that. There are different kinds. So you're going to be paying $400-$600 for liability insurance to keep your business separate and protected. So making sure that you're covering your costs. You have you're going to have variable costs and fixed costs involved with your business, you may decide to make a jam product and you're picking randomly to be in the middle of the price range for people. But you need to know what are your costs, what are your ingredients costs, what are your jars costs? What does your package costs? What is the Farmers Market class to be in? How much does it take to have insurance and your car, your transportation. So really measuring that and figuring out what, how many jars do I need to sell every month? And this is a complicated strategy, but, but it really makes sense to figure out what is my break-even. If I make 90 jars, I'm going to break even every month according to this slide. And if I make over and make and sell over 90 jars, I'm going to make a profit, at least I know I'm covering my cost and do I think I can do that? Do I think I can sell over 90 jars a month? Is that realistic? So we always say if you get in a bind where you can't really lower your cost of your products. Do bundling. You know, two or three for the price of two or five, for the price of three. Rather than reducing the cost per item is always a good idea. You want volume sales, usually help your profitability. So we offer business assistance if you're really interested in counseling with a counselor, it's a $50 application fee. You can go to the MSU Products Center website and fill out a client application. It says "become a client" and then there's an application form to fill out. Again, the Cottage Food Law web page is a wonderful resource. It has a great webpage by the Department of Agriculture. Finding it should be fairly easy. Department of Ag website isn't really user-friendly, but this webpage is excellent. And we also have information on the products on our web page. This is the online course. So if you Googled MSU Extension, Online Cottage Food Law, this will come up because I've done that many times. So this is the $20 course that goes at your own pace that walks through Cottage Food Law business. We also have a food safety Hotline. If you had any questions about food safety risks or what's safe to use. You can call this number Monday through Friday, 9 to 5 is when when someone's Or ask the expert, you can do that 24 hours a day. If you had a question and we will respond over e-mail. So I hope we have some questions and time for discussion. I'm here to answer any kind of questions that you have about your food business and feel free to write down my email. Yeah. Want me to stop sharing? Either way. You can keep that up so folks could write down your email. I can read the questions in the chat if that's helpful for you. There are several. Ready. Cool, right. So back on the recommendation about keeping records, about your ingredients and all of that information. Does MSU Extension have some sort of record keeping sheet that people could use to log that, a template? Well, that is a good question. Let me follow up. Maybe you can send me your e-mail. Send me an email with that question if you can. And I will. And if we don't have something, we should, be able to create something fairly simple for you. So my email address is email@example.com If you can send me an email with that. And maybe for everybody else that's interested in that, I don't know where this recording is going to be posted, but maybe we could post that. I think I'll probably just do it in Word or Excel or something that's simple that most people have access to. That's great. Yeah, there's going to be section on the conference website where all the videos are going to be posted. And there's also a section for handouts. So if you got that to me Kendra, I could get that posted. Perfect. Awesome. Thank you. All right. Next question. Why are jams and jellies, okay, but not butters? Temperature control. And I know we say, well butters don't need temperature control. My grandma had the butter sitting out. Well, in our food safety world in this country, as you know, when you go to the grocery store, butter is sold in the refrigerated section, right, so the Food safety inspectors feel that butter is refrigerated food, and even it can get to the point where butter cream products may not be allowed under Cottage Food Law, it just depends on does that product need to be refrigerated? And they consider butter a product that needs to be kept refrigerated. Since sprouted seeds are not allowed, are edible seeds like sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, salted peanuts okay? I believe so, yes. In sprouts, it's specific to sprouts. Sprouts are really high food safety risk. If you remember, there are many recalls on sprouts and many people who have been sick from sprouts. So I think it's the contact with the soil really. And Marial is a on farm food safety, specialist she knows this, it's the contact with the soil that really makes it a risky thing. So if the seeds don't have any, aren't touching soil anywhere in the process. I think they would be a permitted product. Granolas are permitted and granolas have almonds in them or nuts, and things like that. But of course you have to label things with the allergens. That's the other risks that you're running is with seeds and nuts is that it's an allergen. Good point. Yeah. Okay, so what about savory hand pies or quiches with veggies, no meat? Savorory, hand pies with veggies, anything with vegetables they are going to say no. And, and they draw the line at vegetables. So pasta sauces, any kind of vegetable, and they considered tomatoes, vegetables, which some people consider them fruits, the fruit of the plant. But in the nutrition world, tomatoes are in the vegetable side. So anything with the vegetable, they're going to say no, not Cottage Food. And you can make it, you just have to get a Department of Agriculture license and you have to be operating in a commercial kitchen, which just means a kitchen that's not a home kitchen. It could be a school, church. It could be an incubator kitchen, another restaurant kitchen that you can use. Okay, question about if you have your own personal chickens can use their eggs to make bread? Yes. I believe you can. Yeah. You can do that. To make bread, yes. Now, if you want to sell your personal eggs, that's allowed too under a different, not Cottage Food Law, but just under a licensing, non-licensing, if you will, of an agricultural product. In the information on eggs is on the Cottage Food Law website. And I think they do talk about using your own eggs in your product that is permitted. Okay, cool. Let's good to know. Someone is asking if you could show that slide again, has all the links on it. Oh, yes. Bring that back up again. And I copied some of them in the chat. So if you scroll up folks in your chat, there's a link to the MSU Product Center website, the MDARD Cottage Food Law website, and then the MSU Extension online course. But I think there was also some other ones. So yeah, there's some more. And for the person that asked this one there are a lot, Yeah. I know there are a lot of links and we're going to post these slides too so you can get the links. But I love, I'd like to Google, I don't write down links all the time. But if you're looking for Cottage Food Law or the Product Center, MSU Product Center you can Google. Michigan Cottage Food Law you can Google. And this is our online Cottage Food Law course. This is the big long link for that. And then there's this food safety phone number from eight to nine or nine to five Monday through Friday. And then this Ask the Expert and that doesn't just apply to Cottage Food it's any question out there about gardening or plants or setting anything. We take all different kinds of questions. I can't be the one to guarantee. I'll answer your question. They'll find an expert that really can ask answer your question that's in the field of expertise that you're asking. This is a great resource if you have questions that you want to submit through e-mail. Alright, so you did talk about how they kind of draw the line at vegetables that there are some questions about dehydrating vegetables, so dehydrating tomatoes, or garlic or something like that be allowed or would you need a license for that? I believe. Hmm. I think that you can dehydrate some vegetables. That's a great question for an inspector. I can follow up with an inspector. And in post that answer with the recording. I have a client that is dehydrating some fruits and vegetables and she has a license. But I think she may have the license so she can do online sales. So a lot of people that made cottage foods are saying, I really want to be able to do online sales. I'm going to go the next step and that not work through Cottage Food. So that's where I guess it gets confusing. I guess I don't personally know anybody selling dehydrated vegetables under Cottage Food, but that doesn't mean it's now permitted. I can't remember if that's talked about on the website or not, but I think I would follow up with the Inspector. that I know that always answers my emails and I'll post the answer to that. Okay, great. Here's another tip 2 is Department of Agriculture has an 800 number on their website and you can call that as well if you have questions, if you think of something after today and thought I don't know, is this allowed. Use the 1-800 number from the Department of Agriculture can hear right from them, are they going to permit that or not. And you might have questions about ingredients or, you know, different sales mechanisms or different payment mechanisms and you can kind of talk through. There's difference situations. There's a woman that makes a Cottage Food and she's has a health condition. And so she can't physically be there all the time to deliver packages. So the Department of Agriculture said, form the company with your daughter and your daughter is now a Cottage Food Law maker and your daughter can do that delivery and transactions to avoid her. She's the baker and her daughter is the delivery and because they're in business together under that Cottage Food Law business, the Department of Agriculture, said that was okay. So there are some creative problem-solving that's done with the Department of Agriculture for unique situations or they're not going to get around the law, they're just going to have to help you find a way to follow the law is what I would say. Here's a good question. Is maple syrup and/or honey allowed under Cottage Food Law? So those are products that are allowed, but they don't consider them Cottage Food Law products. They have a special exemption, if you will, for maple syrup and honey producers. And that is on the Cottage Food Law website. So go to the Department of Ags cottage food law website. And I think there's even in the table of contents, you can click right down to honey and maple syrup. There's some labeling they want to see on the package. But you can sell honey and maple syrup from your own production without a license. Now there are some sales restrictions, just like cottage food law, some labeling guides. But it's not considered cottage food if you will, its a different exemption in the food code. Okay, Good to know. So let's like some people are actually out there exploring MDARDS website now around that dehydrated law and there still seems to be some lack of clarity there, So I think it's a really good idea for you to give the food inspector a call cause folks are saying it says dehydrated is okay, but it doesn't specify about cutting items and all of that so definitely give those inspectors a call. Okay. One more question. If you have a license, can you do other things under that business name? Like sell your eggs or does it need to be under a different name? If you have a cottage, If you have a food process license If you have a food processing license, can you sell your eggs under that license? Yes. Yes, you can. Once you apply for your food processing license, you will actually meet with the Department of Agriculture inspector at your commercial kitchen and you will talk through your products and they will inspect your labels. And they'll talk through where you're going to be selling, where your storing your ingredients. You know, what, what are your products? How your handling these products, how you're holding them at safe temperatures. And they'll want to see some some record keeping. All these things for forming a commercial food businesses. So yeah, once you form a license food business, you can have more than one product. Oh, you know what? Actually, I see a correction in the chat. That was not a license I read that incorrectly, It's an LLC. If you form an LLC, Can you do other things under that business? Sorry about that. Oh, okay. Yeah. I mean, you're going, if you're just selling eggs under an LLC and not doing any other food, I think that's fine. But if, okay this is where the sometimes the confusion comes in. If I have a cottage food product and I have like a salsa. So I make wedding cakes out of my home and I make salsa out of a commercial kitchen, because you can't make salsa under cottage food. So can I do those under the same business name? The answer is no. You have to have two separate they don't want, Once you have Cottage Food, or once you have food license for the salsa, you can't have Cottage Food under the same business. Once you have license, you have to have everything license. So... Like I would form Kendra's wedding cakes and just do wedding cakes under that business entity. And then Kendra salsa is separate with a separate Department of Ag license is probably how they would have you do it. You don't, they do not want you mixing cottage food and food license. If that helps. Yeah, thanks for that. And when I say they, it's the department of Agriculture Department of Ag. I have really good relationships with the inspectors, they're really helpful people. I haven't really met an inspector that really wasn't trying to help somebody. That's their job is to help somebody walked through their business and get the get the food safety aspects, right. Alright, I don't think I see any other questions in the chat. Folks can unmute their mics if they would also like to ask questions with your voice or if there's any other questions that you'd like to add to the chat? I think there's another question about honey and maple syrup that are exempt, which we've covered already. But Amanda, if you'd like more clarification, feel free to either unmute or add some extra detail to your question in the chat. Yeah. question, Oh, I guess my question was more like with the LLC like I was talking about. So if you would do like the honey that's exempt or like maple syrup that's exempt And the cottage food law That's exempt, Could you do that all under the same name? Yes. I believe you could. Because they're all non inspected products. Honey, maple syrup, and Cottage Food, could be done under the same business entity. Cause you don't have a license for any of them. And I believe I've seen that in the farmer's market as well. Just make sure you're labeling all the products properly. And you're checking. If you want to sell in a farmer's market. Again not all farmers markets will take cottage foods. They probably will take honey and maple syrup because those are really popular products, unless they already have several. So they may say, We already have three vendors with honey and maple syrup, so we're not taking anymore, and that, that is the, the way farmers markets can operate. They can set their own rules up of what vendors they accept and what vendors they don't. Usually it goes through like a committee of people or maybe sometimes it's just the market manager. I cannot believe the sun. But so you just want to make sure that where you want to sell is going to accept you on the day that you want to be able to sell. Finding the right location. But that, that should not be a problem to do that under the same business entity, honey, maple syrup, and Cottage Food. I have a question. oh, I'm sorry, go ahead. My husband was asking about jerky. Now I know it's meat, but I guess that kind of goes with the dehydration and stuff too because that's not really temperature sensitive. Like if that would be something aloud. No meat products will be allowed under Cottage Food. And jerky actually has a lot of restrictions on it. So I know we think of it as a safe food like it's shelf-stable, we carry it around without temperature control. But the process, meat processing of cutting meat is considered high risk. And so there are food, a lot of food safety rules that have to be followed in making a jerky product. So Nope those, meat products are not allowed under Cottage Food, any kind of meat. So Kendra, I had a question. You mentioned that social media is basically essential right now for food businesses. Are there certain platforms, if you, that you should be kind of concentrating on, are there certain platforms that seem to be kind of more popular for folks to be using to find these businesses? Yes, So I would say the first thing to examine is your target audience. So really narrowing in on who is your target audience? What are their ages? What prices are they willing to pay? What marketing messages speak to them? And do you know them really well? And if you know your target audience, then you would know, okay, I'm going to be making a generalization, but my target audience would be my father. My mother is on Facebook and that's it. That's that she doesn't do any of the other ones. So for example, if I was targeting my mother's age group for my product, I would know that Facebook would be the right place that she's at, because she and her friends only do that. My mother's 78 or 77. So but younger people tend to be other places, not so much on Facebook. Some more Instagram, more YouTube operators. So you just need to really know your, your target audience and what social media channels that where they spend time. Alright. Any more questions for Kendra? There's been a lot of good questions. Yeah. This is my favorite part. And you might find that not all the questions could be answered or thought of during this. So really encourage you to contact us through email or get in touch with the Department of Agriculture through there 1-800 number on the screen here. Or ask an expert questions, see, those resources are always available to you. You think of something, but really labeling and making sure you're making the right kind of food and labeling properly and making sure that you're following the sales channel guidelines. Those are the really key elements of a cottage food law business, which is just a wonderful resource for people. And I think young people, it's exciting that young people could have their own business, wouldn't have to be paying rent. And they could start out selling and craft shows or festivals. And I really hope that we have those the summer, even with COVID, farmers markets did really well this past summer, being able to do socially distance practices and people wore masks. I think people feel really confident being in the farmer's markets and our area. So I think that will continue. Markets will be strong this year. Now a lot of festivals and craft shows were canceled. So will we see them come back, I'm not sure. What's, I think time will tell maybe people are thinking about that now. Are they going to have festival this summer? Are they going to look a little different? Maybe they can spread vendors out more than they traditionally have been. So you'll just have to kind of think about your festival schedule or craft show schedule. If those events are taking place. If that's what you're thinking about as far as a sales outlet.