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. Hawaii’s Department of Health expanded opportunities for cottage food producers in 2017 with the adoption of administrative rules authorizing homemade food sales.
|Grades For Homemade Food Laws||Hawaii|
|Food Categories Grade||D-|
|Sales and Venue Restrictions Grade||C+|
|Regulatory Burdens Grade||B-|
Hawaii cottage food types
|What Shelf-Stable Foods Can I Sell in Hawaii?||No restrictions|
|Can I Sell Refrigerated Baked Goods in Hawaii?||No|
|Can I Sell Meat in Hawaii?||No|
|Can I Sell Acidified or Pickled Foods in Hawaii?||No|
|Can I Sell Low-Acid Canned Goods in Hawaii?||No|
|Can I Sell Fermented Foods in Hawaii?||No|
Many states regulate “cottage food,” meaning food made in a home kitchen for sale. Hawaii cottage food producers may sell food that is “not potentially hazardous,” which generally refers to food that is not time- or temperature-controlled for safety. Hawaii administrative rules specifically allow the sale of hand-pounded poi. Other examples of not potentially hazardous foods include bagels, biscuits, breads, brownies, cakes, cookies, donuts, muffins, rolls, scones, sweet breads, tortillas, popcorn, candies, nut butters, oils, syrups, vinegars, cereals, coffee beans, dried fruits and vegetables, herbs, pastas, spices, jams and jellies. Hawaii cottage food producers may not sell fermented foods, acidified foods, canned or bottled foods, dried meats or seafood, low-acid canned foods and garlic in oil.
Hawaii cottage food venues
|Sales and Venue Restrictions||Hawaii|
|Annual Sales Cap||None|
|Where Can I Sell Homemade Food Direct to Consumers in Hawaii?||No restrictions|
|Can I Sell Homemade Food to Retail Outlets Like Restaurants and Grocery Stores?||No|
Hawaii cottage food sales must be direct and in-person at venues like farmers’ markets, roadside stands and special events. Hawaii also allows cottage food home delivery and pickup. Hawaii bans online sales and sales at restaurants and retail establishments.
Getting started in Hawaii
|Inspections Required Before Starting||No|
|Are Local Ordinances Preempted or Overridden?||No|
|License, Permit or Registration Required||No|
|Recipe Approval or Lab Testing Required||No|
|Food Handler Training Required||Yes|
Hawaii cottage food producers must complete a state-approved food safety course, but no additional permit, inspection or business license is required. Hawaii does not put a revenue cap on cottage food sales. Before getting started, Hawaii cottage food producers should check for local restrictions. The administrative rules state: “Whenever local requirements contain more stringent provisions than any of the minimum requirements of this chapter, the more stringent requirements shall govern.”
Hawaii cottage food labels
Hawaii cottage food producers must package and label their foods. Label information shall include: the common name of the food, a list of ingredients in descending order by weight, the cottage food producer’s name and contact information, and a statement that reads: “Made in a home kitchen not routinely inspected by the Department of Health.” Hand-pounded poi shall bear a label that contains the following statement: “This hand-pounded poi was prepared in a facility not inspected by the Department of Health.”
Hawaii 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.
Hawaii 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 Hawaii story
Is government violating your homemade food freedom in Hawaii? Do you have a potential case for IJ? Get started here…
Support Hawaii legislation
Help expand cottage food laws in Hawaii 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.