All across the United States, people are making food at home to sell in their communities. Together, they form a small but growing industry—the homemade or “cottage food” industry. The movement fits within a larger trend toward healthy eating and responsible sourcing, as consumers take greater interest in where their food comes from and who makes it. Connecticut expanded opportunities for cottage food producers in 2018 with the passage of Public Act 18-141 (previously Senate Bill 193). Previously, only farmers could sell homemade food in Connecticut.
Connecticut cottage food types
Many states regulate “cottage food,” meaning food made in a home kitchen for sale. Cottage food producers in Connecticut may sell “nonpotentially hazardous baked goods, jams, jellies and other nonpotentially hazardous foods.” Generally, the description applies to foods that do not require time or temperature control for safety. Examples include loaf breads, rolls, biscuits, cakes (not cheesecakes), pastries, cookies, candies, confections, fruit pies (not pumpkin), dried fruits, dry herbs, seasonings, mixtures, cereals, trail mixes, granola, coated or uncoated nuts, vinegars (including flavored vinegars), popcorn and popcorn balls, and cotton candy. The Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection provides more detailed guidelines…
Connecticut cottage food venues
Connecticut cottage food producers may sell their goods directly to consumers at farmers’ markets, roadside stands and special events. They also may sell from their homes and make home deliveries. Connecticut also allows online sales to buyers within state limits. Connecticut cottage food producers may not sell their goods to wholesalers or third-party vendors such as restaurants and grocery stores.
Getting started in Connecticut
Connecticut cottage food producers must complete a state-approved food safety training program. They must obtain and keep written confirmation that their food preparation area is compliant with local zoning laws. (Other local restrictions may apply.) If a Connecticut cottage food producer has a private water supply, the water must be tested to demonstrate that it is safe to drink. Connecticut cottage food producers must pay a $50 registration fee to the Department of Consumer Protection. The state imposes a yearly gross sales limit of $25,000. Connecticut cottage food producers must maintain records of all sales.
Connecticut cottage food labels
Connecticut cottage food producers must package their products and include labels with the following information: Name and address of the cottage food operation, name of the cottage food product, ingredients in descending order of predominance by weight, net weight or net volume of the cottage food product (with metric equivalent), and allergen labeling as specified in federal labeling requirements. The following statement must be printed in at least 10-point type in a clear and conspicuous manner: “Made in a Cottage Food Operation that is not Subject to Routine Government Food Safety Inspection.” Hand-printed labels are acceptable if they are clearly legible.
Connecticut Residential Farm Law
Connecticut allows farmers to sell canned goods produced on their farms. The Connecticut Residential Farm Law, which predates the cottage food law, also allows farmers to sell acidified foods like pickles, salsas and sauces without government inspection. The University of Connecticut College of Agriculture provides details…
Connecticut cottage food facts
Myths about cottage food abound. Here are the facts:
- Cottage food is safe. Critics who talk about the risk of food-borne illness give hypothetical examples of what could go wrong because real-world cases are rare or nonexistent.
- Cottage food is local. When neighbors trade with neighbors, money stays in the local economy.
- Cottage food is transparent. People who buy from a cottage food producer know what they get. If they have questions about ingredients, sourcing or safety, they can ask.
- Cottage food creates jobs. Many homemade food producers use their income to provide for their families. Others seek a secondary or supplemental income.
- Cottage food empowers women. IJ cottage food research shows that most cottage food producers are women, and many live in rural areas with limited economic opportunity.
- Cottage food expands consumer choice. Some stores simply don’t sell what you want. This is especially true if you have a gluten-free, peanut-free, halal, kosher or vegan diet. Cottage food fills market gaps, giving consumers more options.
Connecticut cottage food resources
As part of its Food Freedom Initiative, the Institute for Justice provides a variety of resources for home bakers and other food entrepreneurs. These include:
- Model Food Freedom Act from the Institute for Justice guides activism efforts at state capitols nationwide.
- Flour Power: How Cottage Food Entrepreneurs Are Using Their Home Kitchens to Become Their Own Bosses surveys 775 cottage food producers in 22 states about what their businesses mean to them.
- Ready to Roll highlights nine lessons from the Institute for Justice’s cottage food victory in Wisconsin.
- The Attack on Food Freedom examines the impact of regulations on farmers, chefs, artisans, restaurateurs, food truck operators and others.
Tell your Connecticut story
Is government violating your homemade food freedom in Connecticut? Do you have a potential case for IJ? Get started here…
Support Connecticut legislation
Help expand cottage food laws in Connecticut by teaming with the Institute for Justice. Send an email with your name, background information and availability to get started…
Defending homemade food freedom nationwide
People have a right to earn an honest living without arbitrary and excessive government interference. Since 2013, the Institute for Justice has defended home bakers and chefs as part of its Food Freedom Initiative. Read about IJ’s nationwide food freedom advocacy…
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All information, content, and materials available on this site are for general informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Statutes, regulations, and processes are subject to change at any time, and specific facts and circumstances could alter how they are applied. If you have questions about the regulation of cottage foods in your jurisdiction, we recommend consulting a lawyer who can help you navigate the process.