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. New Hampshire expanded opportunities for cottage food producers in 2011 with amendments to the Food Service Licensure Act. The law authorizes two types of cottage food operations in New Hampshire: Those that are exempt from the state’s Homestead License licensing and those that are not.
|Grades For Homemade Food Laws||New Hampshire Exempt Home Food Operations||New Hampshire Homestead|
|Food Varieties Grade||D||D|
|Sales and Venue Restrictions Grade||D+||A+|
|Regulatory Burdens Grade||B+||C|
New Hampshire cottage food types
|Food Varieties||New Hampshire Exempt Home Food Operations||New Hampshire Homestead|
|What Shelf-Stable Foods Can I Sell in New Hampshire?||No restrictions||No restrictions|
|Can I Sell Refrigerated Baked Goods in New Hampshire?||No||No|
|Can I Sell Meat in New Hampshire?||No||No|
|Can I Sell Acidified or Pickled Foods in New Hampshire?||No||No|
|Can I Sell Low-Acid Canned Goods in New Hampshire?||No||No|
|Can I Sell Fermented Foods in New Hampshire?||No||No|
Many states regulate “cottage food,” meaning food made in home kitchens for sale. New Hampshire uses the term “homestead food,” which refers to non-potentially hazardous foods prepared at home for sale. The description generally covers shelf-stable foods that do not require time or temperature control for safety. Examples include baked goods like breads and cookies, along with candy, dry goods, coffee beans, pastries and snacks. New Hampshire cottage food producers may sell jams, jellies and other jarred foods (e.g., barbecue sauces, hot sauces, mustards, fruit butters).
The state prohibits the sale of homemade products containing meat, poultry, fish, shellfish and crustaceans. In addition New Hampshire cottage food producers may not sell eggs; milk and dairy products; cooked, plant-based foods (e.g., cooked rice, beans, or vegetables); honey; maple syrup; baked potatoes; mushrooms; raw sprouts; tofu and soy-protein foods; and untreated garlic and oil mixtures.
New Hampshire cottage food venues
|Sales and Venue Restrictions||New Hampshire Exempt Home Food Operations||New Hampshire Homestead|
|Annual Sales Cap||$20,000||None|
|Where Can I Sell Homemade Food Direct to Consumers in New Hampshire?||At farmers’ markets, from farm stands, and from home.||No restrictions|
|Can I Sell Homemade Food to Retail Outlets?||Yes, except restaurants.||Yes|
New Hampshire cottage food producers may sell their products at farmers’ markets, personal residences, roadside stands and retail food stores without a license. New Hampshire cottage food producers need a license if they earn more than $20,000 a year or want to sell their products to restaurants, over the Internet, by mail order or to wholesalers, brokers or other food distributors.
Getting started in New Hampshire
|Regulatory Burdens||New Hampshire Exempt Home Food Operations||New Hampshire Homestead|
|Inspections Required Before Starting||No||No|
|Are Local Ordinances Preempted or Overridden?||No||No|
|License, Permit or Registration Required||No||Yes|
|Recipe Approval or Lab Testing Required||No||Only for jarred foods.|
|Food Handler Training Required||No||No|
New Hampshire cottage food producers do not need a government license, home inspection or state-mandated training if they keep annual gross sales below $20,000 and sell their products at farmers’ markets, personal residences, roadside stands or retail food stores. License applicants must provide a list of the products they will manufacture, sample product labels, and a copy of the process review for jarred foods. All New Hampshire cottage food producers must comply with local zoning laws and other ordinances. New Hampshire has 15 self-inspecting municipalities that regulate food in their communities. If New Hampshire cottage food producers use recipes not approved by the National Center for Home Food Preservation, they must submit a process review for approval. The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services provides guidelines.
New Hampshire cottage food labels
New Hampshire cottage food producers must attach labels on all their products with the following information: Food producer’s name, address and phone number; product name; ingredients in descending order of predominance by weight; name of each major food allergen contained in the food; and a product code that includes the manufacture date, container size and product lot or batch number to aid in a recall in case of a public health hazard.
Unlicensed New Hampshire cottage food producers must include the following disclaimer in at least 10-point type: “This product is exempt from New Hampshire licensing and inspection.” Licensed New Hampshire cottage food producers must include the following disclaimer in at least 10-point type: “This product is made in a residential kitchen licensed by NH DHHS.”
New Hampshire 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.
New Hampshire 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 New Hampshire story
Is government violating your homemade food freedom in New Hampshire? Do you have a potential case for IJ? Get started here…
Support New Hampshire legislation
Help expand cottage food laws in New Hampshire 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.