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Recent State Reforms for Home-Based Food Businesses

Nationwide, 49 states and the District of Columbia now have cottage food programs, which allow residents to sell baked goods and other shelf-stable, non-potentially hazardous foods directly to consumers. (New Jersey is the sole exception.)

Since 2015, 23 states and Washington, D.C. have either created new cottage food programs or significantly expanded their existing laws:

  1. Alabama (2021)
  2. Arkansas (2021)
  3. Colorado (both in 2015 and 2016)
  4. Connecticut (2018)
  5. Delaware (created by the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services in 2016)
  6. Florida (2017)
  7. Hawaii (created by the Hawaii Department of Health in 2017)
  8. Idaho (codified by the Idaho Department of Public Health and Welfare in 2015)
  9. Illinois (both in 2015 and 2017 )
  10. Kentucky (2018)
  11. Maryland (both in 2018 and 2019)
  12. Minnesota (both in 2015 and in 2021)
  13. Montana (2015)
  14. Nebraska (2019)
  15. Nevada (2015)
  16. New Mexico (2021)
  17. Oklahoma (2017)
  18. Oregon (2015)
  19. South Dakota (2020)
  20. Texas (2019)
  21. West Virginia (2019)
  22. Wisconsin (court ruling in 2017)
  23. Wyoming (2020)

 

Today, 32 states allow cottage food businesses to sell online to buyers within state limits:

  1. Alabama
  2. Arizona
  3. Arkansas
  4. California
  5. Colorado
  6. Connecticut
  7. Florida
  8. Georgia
  9. Idaho
  10. Indiana
  11. Iowa (only Home Bakeries)
  12. Louisiana
  13. Maine
  14. Massachusetts
  15. Minnesota
  16. Missouri
  17. Nebraska
  18. New Hampshire (only Homestead License)
  19. New Mexico
  20. New York
  21. North Carolina
  22. Ohio
  23. Oklahoma
  24. Oregon (only Domestic Kitchen Bakeries/Processors)
  25. Pennsylvania
  26. South Dakota
  27. Tennessee (only Domestic Kitchens)
  28. Texas
  29. Utah
  30. Vermont
  31. Virginia (only Home Food Processing Operations)
  32. West Virginia

 

Twenty states allow cottage food producers to sell through retail outlets like grocery stores:

  1. Arizona
  2. Arkansas
  3. California (only Class B)
  4. Iowa (only Home Bakeries)
  5. Louisiana
  6. Maine
  7. Maryland
  8. Massachusetts
  9. New Hampshire (only Homestead License)
  10. North Carolina
  11. Ohio
  12. Oklahoma
  13. Oregon (only Domestic Kitchen Bakeries/Processors)
  14. Pennsylvania
  15. Rhode Island
  16. Tennessee (only Domestic Kitchens)
  17. Utah
  18. Virginia (only Home Food Processing Operations)
  19. West Virginia
  20. Wyoming (only “non-potentially hazardous food”)

 

Food Freedom

Separate from cottage food programs, several states have enacted laws designed to spur other types of home-based food businesses. Unlike cottage food programs, food freedom laws let residents sell almost any homemade food, including canned, pickled, and refrigerated goods, aside from those that contain meat, without any licensing, permitting, or inspection requirements.

Five states have enacted food freedom laws:

  1. Wyoming (2015, 2017, and 2021)
  2. North Dakota (2017)
  3. Utah (2018)
  4. Montana (2021)
  5. Oklahoma (2021)

According to the state health departments in Wyoming, North Dakota, and Utah, there has not been a single outbreak of foodborne illness linked to a food freedom business.

Four states have banned cities and counties from banning or requiring a permit for lemonade stands run by kids:

  1. Utah (2017)
  2. Colorado (2019)
  3. Texas (2019)
  4. Illinois (2021)

(Since lemonade needs to be refrigerated, it’s typically excluded from many state cottage food laws.)

 

Home Cooking

Two states have enacted “microenterprise home kitchen” laws, which legalize the sale of home cooked meals that contain meat. Although these laws let home chefs sell an even broader array of dishes than under food freedom laws, they do require inspections and permits.

  1. California (2018 and 2019)
  2. Utah (2021)

Unlike Utah, California requires cities and counties that expressly opted in and passed ordinances authorizing MHKOs. As of April 2021, the following California municipalities have enacted a MHKO ordinance and have started to issue permits:

  1. Imperial County
  2. Riverside County

 

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