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Selling Homemade Food in Massachusetts

People love fresh-baked cookies and cake right out of the oven, but home bakers in Massachusetts may not sell their products until passing a state inspection and permitting process. Once approved for business, Massachusetts home bakers may not recruit additional help outside their households. On the upside, residential kitchen” rules passed in 2000 allow the sale of nonperishable homemade food to online buyers within the state. Homemade food producers may also sell their products at retail outlets like grocery stores.  

Massachusetts cottage food types

Many states regulate “cottage food,” meaning food made in a home kitchen for sale. Homemade food producers in Massachusetts may sell baked goods like breads and cookies, along with candies, dry goods, pastries, jams, jellies and snacks. Forrager Cottage Food Community provides a more detailed list of allowable Massachusetts cottage food… 

Boston zoning restrictions

Despite a statewide “residential kitchen” law, some Massachusetts municipalities use zoning rules to restrict cottage food sales. Most notably, the Boston Planning and Zoning Department has opposed any commercial use of residential kitchens. 

Massachusetts 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.

Massachusetts 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: 

Tell your Massachusetts story

Is government violating your homemade food freedom in Massachusetts? Do you have a potential case for IJ? Get started here… 

Support Massachusetts legislation

Help expand cottage food laws in Massachusetts 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. 

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