Setting up a food enterprise in a commercial-grade kitchen can cost tens of thousands of dollars, and many people cannot afford the expense. Fortunately, New York allows home-based business owners to apply for an exemption to the normal rules for running a food processing establishment. Individuals who prepare food for sale in their own kitchens can get started easily. All they need is a few basic supplies, an oven, and entrepreneurial spirit.
New York cottage food types
Homemade food producers in New York may sell most types of non-potentially hazardous “cottage food,” which refers to food made in a home kitchen for sale. Approved items include breads, rolls, biscuits, bagels, muffins, doughnuts, cookies, candies, jams, jellies, caramel corn, peanut brittle, and dried spices and herbs. New York cottage food producers may not sell pickles, cheese, yogurt, salsas, ketchup, cheesecake, cooked or canned fruits or vegetables, beverages, or any product containing alcohol, meat, fish, poultry or chocolate. A more complete lists of approved and prohibited items is available on the New York Department of Agriculture and Markets website…
New York Cottage food venues
New York cottage food producers may sell their products from home or online with in-state shipping or home delivery. New York also permits wholesale and retail cottage food sales at restaurants, cafes, grocery stores, farmers’ markets, craft fairs and flea markets. Cottage food may not be sold across state lines. Local rules may vary. The New York Department of Agriculture and Markets says, “Be sure to consult with your local zoning officials for approval before commencing any home-based business.”
Getting started in New York
New York cottage food producers must register with the state for a “Home Processor Exemption” from Article 20-C, which governs the licensing of food processing establishments. If water comes from a private source, then applicants must pay for water testing. Otherwise, registration for a Home Processing Exemption is free, and approval generally takes two weeks. New York has no sales limit or revenue cap for approved cottage food producers. The one-page application is available here…
New York cottage food labeling
All cottage food sold in New York must be labeled with the name of the product, the list of ingredients in order of predominance by weight, the total weight of the product, the name of the producer, and the producer’s full address. Any of the eight most common allergens (eggs, milk, fish, shellfish, soybeans, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat) must be clearly identified in the product ingredient statement.
New York 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 York 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 York story
Is government violating your homemade food freedom in New York? Do you have a potential case for IJ? Get started here…
Support New York legislation
Help expand cottage food laws in New York 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.