People love fresh-baked cookies and cake right out of the oven. Unfortunately, New Jersey remains the only state that completely bans the sale of homemade food. New Jersey bakers and chefs who work at home may sell their products for charity but not for profit. Rather than accept the arbitrary and excessive restrictions, three New Jersey moms and a home bakers association partnered with the Institute for Justice and fought back in court on Dec. 7, 2017. In response to their lawsuit, the New Jersey Department of Health proposed reforms on April 20, 2020, which are still pending. Read more about the New Jersey cottage food case…
Proposed New Jersey cottage food rules
Many states regulate “cottage food,” meaning food made in a home kitchen for sale. If adopted, the proposed New Jersey rules would allow the direct sale of homemade breads, cakes, pastries, cookies, candy, dried pasta, roasted coffee and other shelf-stable products. Before starting a home-based enterprise, food producers would need to apply for a permit and complete mandatory food safety training. Read New Jersey’s proposed cottage food rules…
New Jersey 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. New Jersey regulators looked into the matter and found no evidence of anyone, anywhere, getting sick from home-baked goods. The state’s introduction to its proposed rules points to “scientific evidence that supports a finding that shelf-stable food prepared in home kitchens is safe for consumers.”
- 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. Results in Minnesota show the potential economic impact. Within two years of an IJ victory in 2015, the state granted more than 3,000 cottage food licenses, each representing a small business. By 2020, the number had swelled to 4,000.
- 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 Jersey 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 New Jersey
New Jersey cottage food resources:
- New Jersey Home Bakers Association: Check out the New Jersey Home Bakers website to learn more about the New Jersey cottage food law, how you can get involved, and learn tips of the trade from fellow cottage food producers.
Tell your New Jersey story
Is government violating your homemade food freedom in New Jersey? Do you have a potential case for IJ? Get started here…
Support New Jersey legislation
Help expand cottage food laws in New Jersey 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.