Homemade food products and the Michigan Cottage Food Law

Thanks to the new Cottage Food Law, home cooks now can legally sell some food products prepared in their homes.

In the summer of 2010, Michigan passed the Cottage Foods Law. The law allows home cooks to produce and sell a specific group of foods produced in home kitchens. The new law creates an opportunity for entrepreneurs who want to try their hand at producing and marketing food products on a small scale without the investment in a licensed kitchen.

The foods that have been approved under the new law are foods that do not require time or temperature control for safety. Examples include baked goods such as cookies, cakes and pies. Pies that require refrigeration such as banana cream, pumpkin or lemon meringue are not allowed under the law. Other allowable products include candy, popcorn, pretzels, snack mixes and dried herb or seasoning mixes. The only home-canned products that are allowed are jams and jellies in glass jars that can be stored at room temperature. No pickled products can be sold under this law. Flavored vinegars are also covered under the law but flavored oils are not allowed.

Cottage foods must be prepared in a home kitchen in a single family domestic residence. This could include a home or apartment as long as it is a single family dwelling and not a group or communal home.

Another key component that those interested in selling these types of products from their home should be aware of is the labeling requirement. All cottage-food products must be labeled with the statement “Made in a home kitchen not inspected by the Michigan Department of Agriculture.” In addition, the label must include name and address of cottage good operation, name of product, ingredients listing in descending order of predominance by weight, net weight or new volume of the product, and allergen labeling as specified in federal labeling requirements.

The sale of cottage foods is also limited by the law and must be done directly to consumers. This may be done through venues like farmers’ markets or roadside stands. Cottage foods cannot be sold to a retailer for sale in a store or for use in a restaurant. Cottage foods may also not be sold over the Internet or through mail-order. There is an income limit on the amount of money that can be made from selling these types of foods. The law allows for up to $15,000 in gross sales annually per household.

The law facilitates a way to launch new food products on a small scale but has very specific limitations. For additional details on the law and approved food products and labeling visit the Michigan Department of Agriculture website. The site offers complete details about the law and a very helpful section of frequently asked questions to help guide entrepreneurs in complying with the law.

Michigan State University Extension and the MSU Product Center are piloting a new instructional series designed for individuals wishing to produce homemade food products that will be released across the state in the spring. Check back to this site for follow-up information.