All across the United States, Americans 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. Michigan expanded opportunities for cottage food producers in 2010 with the passage of Michigan Public Act 113. The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development provides an overview…
Michigan cottage food types
Many states regulate “cottage food,” meaning food made in a home kitchen for sale. Cottage food producers in Michigan may sell non-potentially hazardous foods that do not require time and/or temperature control for safety. Examples include baked goods like breads, cookies, cakes and muffins. Michigan cottage food producers also may sell cooked fruit pies, jams, jellies, confections and candies made without alcohol, granola, dry herbs, dry baking mixes, dry dip mixes, dry soup mixes, dehydrated vegetables or fruits, popcorn, cotton candy, chocolate-covered pretzels, marshmallows, graham crackers, Rice Krispies treats, strawberries, pineapple, bananas, coated or uncoated nuts, dried pasta made with or without eggs, roasted coffee beans or ground roasted coffee, vinegar and flavored vinegars. In addition, dry bulk mixes sold wholesale can be repackaged. Similar items already packaged and labeled for retail sale cannot be repackaged or relabeled. Michigan specifically bans cottage food producers from selling meat, fish, vegetable jams, canned fruits and vegetables, salsas, cut melons, caramel apples, pet foods and salad dressings.
Michigan cottage food venues
Michigan cottage food producers may sell their goods directly to consumers in a variety of venues, but all sales must be face-to-face. Transactions may occur at farmers’ markets, roadside stands and similar venues. Michigan cottage food producers may advertise online and take orders online or over the phone, but the money exchange and food delivery must be done in-person. Michigan cottage food producers may not use third-party agents, including retail outlets like grocery stores, coffee shops and restaurants.
Getting started in Michigan
Michigan cottage food producers do not need a license, inspection, or training to get started. Government regulators may enter the home only to investigate specific complaints, and to gather information following reports of foodborne illnesses. Once a cottage food business is running, Michigan caps gross annual revenue at $25,000.
Michigan cottage food labeling
Michigan cottage food producers must label each product with the following information: Name and physical address of the cottage food operation, product name, ingredients in descending order of predominance by weight, net weight or net volume, and allergen labeling if the product contains milk, eggs, wheat, peanuts, soybeans, fish or tree nuts. All labels must include the following statement in at least 11-point type: “Made in a home kitchen that has not been inspected by the Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development.” Hand-printed labels are acceptable if they are legible.
Michigan 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.
Michigan 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 Michigan story
Is government violating your homemade food freedom in Michigan? Do you have a potential case for IJ? Get started here…
Support Michigan legislation
Help expand cottage food laws in Michigan 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.