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. Indiana expanded opportunities for cottage food producers in 2009 with passage of Indiana House Enrollment Act 1309, but many aspects of Indiana cottage food laws remain restrictive. Fortunately, additional reforms might come soon. With support from the Institute for Justice, state lawmakers passed Senate Bill 185 in 2021. The new law creates a working group that will study cottage food issues and make recommendations for reform.
Indiana cottage food types
Many states regulate “cottage food,” meaning food made in home kitchens for sale. Indiana cottage food producers may sell non-potentially hazardous foods that do not require refrigeration to keep safe. Examples include home-baked goods like cookies and cakes, along with candy, honey, pickles, syrup, dry goods, pastries, jams, jellies, granola, nuts, popcorn and other snacks.
Indiana cottage food venues
Indiana cottage food producers may sell their goods directly to consumers at roadside stands and farmers’ markets. State law forbids sales at all other venues, including at home and online. Indiana also forbids cottage food sales at retail establishments like grocery stores and restaurants.
Getting started in Indiana
Getting started as an Indiana cottage food producer is easy. The state requires no registration, no fees and no inspections. All a person needs is a home kitchen. Once the operation is under way, Indiana imposes no limit on gross annual revenue.
Indiana cottage food labeling
Indiana cottage food producers must package their goods with labels displaying the name and address of the person preparing the food, the date the food was processed, the name of the product, the net weight and volume of the product, and a list of ingredients in descending order by weight. Labels also must include the following statement in 10-point type: “This product is home produced and processed and the production area has not been inspected by the State Department of Health.”
Indiana 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.
Indiana 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.
Selling Homemade Food in Indiana
Indiana cottage food resources:
- Indiana Home Based Vendors: Like our Facebook page to learn more about the Indiana cottage food law, how you can get involved, and learn tips of the trade from fellow home based food vendors.
Tell your Indiana story
Is government violating your homemade food freedom in Indiana? Do you have a potential case for IJ? Get started here…
Support Indiana legislation
Help expand cottage food laws in Indiana 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.