Cottage Foods and Homemade Items
Often, a farmer may try to increase profits by turning raw fruits and vegetables from the farm into a value-added product such as baked pies, breads, or jams. In the state of Ohio, when made in a private home in your every-day kitchen, these products are known as COTTAGE FOODS. Cottage Foods are exempt from most inspections and licensing, but there are general rules and regulations that should be followed in order to legitimately sell these commodities.
A Cottage Food Operation is defined as a person who, IN THE PERSON'S HOME (private residence with single or double oven only, non-commercial), produces food items that are not potentially hazardous. Permissible foods includes:
- Bakery (cookies, bread, brownies, cakes, pies, unfilled, baked donuts, etc.)
- Candy & chocolates
- Fruit Butter
- Popcorn and popcorn snacks
- Granola, Granola Bars, nut mixes, cereal mixes with seasoning (like "chex mix")
- Roasted Coffee, whole bean or ground
- Dry baking mixes (in jars)
- Dried herbs and herb blends, dried seasoning blends
- Dried Teas
- full list here, page 2.
In order to be a legitimate cottage foods operation, the following rules must be followed:
- Foods must be labeled properly (or else they will be considered misbranded & adulterated).
- Label must include name and address of the business of the "cottage food op"
- Label must include name of the food product
- Label must include ingredients of product in descending order by weight
- net weight or volume of food product
- The following statement in 10 pt font MUST BE ON THE PRODUCT "THIS PRODUCT IS HOME PRODUCED"
- Avoid making claims such as "low-fat" or "salt free" etc. These statements must meet federal labeling requirements with specific food labels (see factsheet).
- Allergen labeling must be followed as specified in the federal labeling requirements for allergens. Full Food Allergen Labeling & Consumer Protection Act of 2004
- Cottage Foods may only be sold WITHIN THE STATE
- May be sold from home, grocery stores, farm markets, farmers markets, or sold to restaurants.
- A license is NOT required.
- Cottage food industries are EXEMPT from inspection by Ohio Dept. of Agriculture.
- Cottage food IS subject to random sampling/testing for misbranding and adulteration.
UNPERMITTED cottage foods for sale include:
- Processed acidified foods (a low-acid food to which acids or acidic food is added such as beans, cucumbers, cabbage, puddings, etc.)
- low-acid canned foods (finished pH greater than 4.6 and water activity >0.85)
- Potentially hazardous foods requiring temperature control
- Potentially hazardous raw or cooked animal products
- Cooked vegetables
- Garlic in oil
- Pumpkin pies, custard pies, cream pies, frozen pies etc.
- Cannot use reduced oxygen packaging
Source: Ohio Department of Agriculture