Today, all 50 states and the District of Columbia have cottage food programs, which allow residents to sell baked goods and other shelf-stable, non-potentially hazardous foods directly to consumers.
Recent State Reforms for Homemade Food Businesses
Since 2015, 34 states and Washington, D.C. have either created new homemade food programs or expanded their existing laws. For more information about a specific state reform, see the timeline below.
District of Columbia (B23-0192)
Washington, DC had enacted passed a cottage food law so restrictive that by 2018 there were only 3 registered cottage food producers. IJ worked with entrepreneurs across the District to expand allowed venues, raise the revenue cap and streamline the registration process.
New Mexico (HB 177)
IJ and a coalition of home bakers worked to pass a bill that eliminated Albuquerque’s ban on selling homemade foods, the permit requirement across the state, and the requirement that foods may only be sold at farmers markets and events, allowing sales from home, online, and by mail delivery.
South Dakota (HB 1322)
Working with IJ, South Dakota legalized the sale of home-baked goods that require refrigeration and fermented foods.
Tennessee (SB 693)
Tennessee legalized retail sales and hiring full-time employees for cottage food businesses, and also banned municipalities from imposing additional regulations.
Connecticut (SB 187)
With help from IJ, Connecticut doubled its revenue cap from $25,000 to $50,000 for cottage food businesses.
Maryland (HB 178)
Maryland doubled its revenue cap from $25,000 to $50,000 for cottage food businesses.
South Carolina (S. 506)
With help from IJ, South Carolina greatly expanded the types of shelf-stable foods that can be sold and legalized selling cottage food products at grocery stores and other retail outlets.
Missouri (HB 1697)
Missouri lifted its sales cap and allowed online sales for cottage food businesses.
Louisiana (HB 828)
With help from IJ, Louisiana raised the sales cap for cottage food businesses to $30,000.
Iowa (HF 2431)
Working with IJ, Iowa greatly expanded opportunities for homemade food businesses by allowing the sale of pickled and fermented foods, as well as certain meat products.
Selling Homemade Food Online
Today, 43 states, plus Washington, D.C., allow cottage food businesses to sell online to buyers within state limits.
Today, 35 states and Washington, D.C. allow mail delivery of cottage food products.
Nationwide, 22 states, plus the District of Columbia, allow cottage food producers to sell through retail outlets like grocery stores or restaurants.
Separate from cottage food programs, several states have enacted laws designed to spur other types of homemade food businesses. Unlike cottage food programs, food freedom laws let residents sell almost any homemade food, including canned, pickled, and refrigerated goods, aside from those that contain meat, without any licensing, permitting, or inspection requirements.
Five states have enacted food freedom laws. According to the state health departments in Wyoming, North Dakota, and Utah, there has not been a single outbreak of foodborne illness linked to a food freedom business.
Five states have legalized the sale of home cooked meals that contain meat.
However, California requires cities and counties that expressly opted in and passed ordinances authorizing “microenterprise home kitchen operations.” As of March 2022, MEHKO permits are available in the following:
- Alameda County
- Imperial County
- Riverside County
- San Diego County
- San Mateo County
- Santa Barbara County
- Solano County
Kid Lemonade Stands
Since lemonade needs to be refrigerated, it’s typically excluded from many state cottage food laws. However, five states have banned cities and counties from banning or requiring a permit for lemonade stands run by kids.