Ohio has a two-tiered system for selling homemade food.
In addition to laws governing the production of cottage food, which does not require a permit, Ohio has legislation governing home bakeries, which allows cottage food producers to sell more products than are covered by the cottage food law but imposes stricter regulations on the sale of these products.
Selling homemade food is fairly simple in Ohio. Home-based business owners do not need permits to get started, and Ohio imposes no cap on annual gross revenue. Ohio’s Pure Food and Drug Law, updated in 2009 and 2016, allows inspectors from the Ohio Department of Agriculture to sample homemade products to ensure proper labeling.
|Grades For Homemade Food Laws||Ohio Cottage Food||Ohio Home Bakery|
|Food Varieties Grade||D-||D|
|Sales and Venue Restrictions Grade||A||A|
|Regulatory Burdens Grade||B+||D-|
Ohio Homemade food types
|Food Varieties||Ohio Cottage Food||Ohio Home Bakery|
|What Shelf-Stable Foods Can I Sell in Ohio?||Food must be on list approved by the Department of Agriculture.||Only baked goods, other pantry goods are banned.|
|Can I Sell Refrigerated Baked Goods in Ohio?||No||Yes|
|Can I Sell Meat in Ohio?||No||No|
|Can I Sell Acidified or Pickled Foods in Ohio?||No||No|
|Can I Sell Low-Acid Canned Goods in Ohio?||No||No|
|Can I Sell Fermented Foods in Ohio?||No||No|
Many states regulate “cottage food,” meaning food made in a home kitchen for sale. Cottage food producers in Ohio may sell non-potentially hazardous foods, meaning foods that do not require special storage for safe consumption. Examples include baked goods like breads and cookies, candy, honey, syrup, pies, jams, jellies, dry seasoning blends, and granola.
The Ohio Home Bakery Law allows cottage food producers to sell certain perishable baked goods and non-baked products, including cream pies and filled baked goods. However, Ohio home bakeries are not allowed to sell shelf-stable foods that aren’t baked goods.
Ohio Homemade food venues
|Sales and Venue Restrictions||Ohio Cottage Food||Ohio Home Bakery|
|Annual Sales Cap||No limit||No limit|
|Where Can I Sell Homemade Food Direct to Consumers in Ohio?||Only at farmers’ markets, events, and from home.||No restrictions|
|Can I Sell Homemade Food to Retail Outlets Like Restaurants and Grocery Stores?||Yes||Yes|
Both Ohio cottage food producers and home bakeries may sell their products in many different venues. Homemade food may be sold directly from the producer to the consumer both online and in-person at community events and at farmers’ markets. Ohio homemade food may also be sold wholesale at grocery stores and restaurants, as restaurants are permitted to use homemade ingredients. Ohio does not permit interstate sales of homemade food. Meanwhile, home bakeries are banned from keeping pets indoors at any time.
Getting Started in Ohio
|Regulatory Burdens||Ohio Cottage Food||Ohio Home Bakery|
|Inspections Required Before Starting||No||Yes|
|Are Local Ordinances Preempted or Overridden?||No||No|
|License, Permit or Registration Required||No||Yes|
|Recipe Approval or Lab Testing Required||No||No|
|Food Handler Training Required||No||No|
Although the state’s cottage food law doesn’t impose any regulatory burdens, anyone who wants to sell items that fall under the Home Bakery Law are required to get a Home Bakery License and undergo a kitchen inspection. Additionally, though the state of Ohio issues Home Bakery Licenses, home bakeries must still obtain licenses from local authorities to sell foods at farmers’ markets that fall under the Home Bakery Law. More information about the Home Bakery Law can be found here…
Ohio Homemade food labeling
Ohio cottage food must be labeled with the name of the product, the name and address of the cottage food producer’s business, the ingredients in decreasing order of prevalence by weight, the net weight of the product, and the statement: “This product is home produced” in 10-point font or larger. If a nutritional claim is made about the product, a nutritional facts panel must be included on the label.
Baked goods covered by the Home Bakery Law are subject to the same labeling requirements as all other cottage foods. If a baked good requires refrigeration, the statement: “Keep Refrigerated” must be included on the label.
Ohio 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.
Ohio 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 Ohio story
Is government violating your homemade food freedom in Ohio? Do you have a potential case for IJ? Get started here…
Support Ohio legislation
Help expand cottage food laws in Ohio 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.