Do you ever go to farmer’s markets and daydream about quitting your day job and selling your famous jam or granola? Glad I’m not the only one. Usually when you sell food you’re subject to Department of Health regulations and other state regulations that require you to have a licensed commercial kitchen. But there are laws in place, called cottage food laws, to help the little people out who want to sell their food on a small scale.
The thought behind making exception to the general food safety laws is that “cottage foods” such as baked goods, jams, jellies, and granola do not present the same safety risk as other foods, so the regulations can be a little bit more relaxed. Allowing producers to sell small batches of their food helps out local economies and encourages people to grow their own food.
States are free to come up with their own cottage food laws, but the Food and Drug Administration provides guidance to states on what laws should include. According to the FDA, “cottage foods” should include loaf breads, rolls, biscuits, cakes, candies, fruit pies, jams, jellies and preserves, dried fruits, dry herbs, cereals, trail mixes and granola, coated or uncoated nuts, vinegar and flavored vinegars, popcorn, popcorn balls, and cotton candy. Yum. In Florida, food producers don’t need a license, inspection or training before selling “cottage foods” – but producers can’t make more than $15,000 in sales per year, and can’t sell wholesale or on the internet.