A nationwide survey by the Institute for Justice, Baking Bad provides the most up-to-date account of state laws that allow the sale of homemade food and will be regularly updated whenever a state changes its laws. This report grades and ranks nearly 70 different homemade food programs from all 50 states plus the District of Columbia on 17 separate factors. Those criteria are based on the Institute for Justice’s Food Freedom Act, model legislation that details best practices for ensuring economic opportunity for homemade food businesses without jeopardizing public health. Each state program was graded based on the relevant statutes, regulatory code, and agencies’ public-facing guidelines. States with multiple programs had each program graded individually and separately.

Homemade Food Laws

Alabama Alaska Arizona Arkansas California Colorado Connecticut Delaware Florida Georgia Hawaii Idaho Illinois Indiana Iowa Kansas Kentucky Louisiana Maine Maryland Massachusetts Michigan Minnesota Mississippi Missouri Montana Nebraska Nevada New Hampshire New Jersey New Mexico New York North Carolina North Dakota Ohio Oklahoma Oregon Pennsylvania Rhode Island South Carolina South Dakota Tennessee Texas Utah Vermont Virginia Washington West Virginia Wisconsin Wyoming District of Columbia
  • A
  • B
  • C
  • D
  • F

METHODOLOGY

For this report, the criteria were divided and weighted across three main categories: Food Varieties, Sales and Venue Restrictions, and Regulatory Burdens.

Food Varieties 

Accounting for 40% of a state program’s final grade, Food Varieties consists of the types of food that can be sold. 

Shelf-Stable Foods

This factor accounts for 30% of a state’s Food Varieties grade. State programs receive full marks for this factor if they impose no restrictions on what types of shelf-stable or potentially non-hazardous food can be sold. States that restrict what types of food time- and temperature-controlled for safety earn points in the following ways: 

  • States earn 10% for allowing the sale of candy and confectionery.
  • States earn 15% for allowing the sale of jams, jellies, preserves, and other similar types of canned goods.
  • If a state program allows the sale of homemade baked goods, it receives 25%. This drops to 15%, however, if the baked goods must be made with flour. 
  • If a state program allows canned goods, baked goods, candy, and other shelf-stable foods, but otherwise limits homemade food businesses to a set list of approved foods, it receives 75%.
  • If a state program has a set list but also offers an application process to add new products, it receives 85%.
Refrigerated Baked Goods

States receive 100% if they allow refrigerated baked goods like pumpkin pies or cream-filled pastries. This accounts for 20% of the Food Varieties grade. 

Meat

States receive 100% if they allow the sale of meals containing meat. States receive 35% if they allow the sale of fish, seafood, personally-raised poultry, or jerky and 5% for allowing the sale of rabbits. This accounts for 20% of the Food Varieties grade.

Acidified or Pickled Foods

States receive 100% if they allow the sale of pickles and other acidified foods. This accounts for 10% of the Food Varieties grade.

Low-Acid Canned Foods

States receive 100% if they allow the sale of low-acid canned goods, which includes canned beans, corn, mushrooms, and most other vegetables. This accounts for 10% of the Food Varieties grade.

Fermented Foods

States receive 100% if they allow the sale of fermented foods, which includes kombucha, kimchi, and sauerkraut. This accounts for 10% of the Food Varieties grade.

Sales and Venue Restrictions

Accounting for 30% of a state program’s final grade, Sales and Venue Restrictions is centered around where a homemade food business can sell their products and how much they can sell.

Annual Sales Cap

States receive 100% if they do not cap the sales of homemade food businesses. For states with annual sales cap, they receive 1% for every $1,000 in allowable sales, up to a maximum of 95%. So states with a sales cap above $95,000 receive 95%. This accounts for 25% of the Sales and Venue Restrictions grade.

Direct to Consumer

States receive 33% for allowing direct-to-consumer sales at each of the following venues: farmers’ markets, roadside stands, events. This accounts for 20% of the Sales and Venue Restrictions grade.

Retail

States receive 100% if they allow the sale of homemade food products at retail outlets like grocery stores, coffeeshops, and restaurants. States receive 50% if they allow retail sales but not at restaurants. This accounts for 20% of the Sales and Venue Restrictions grade.

Online Sales

States receive 100% if they allow homemade food businesses to sell their products online to others within state lines. This accounts for 15% of the Sales and Venue Restrictions grade.

Mail Delivery

States receive 100% if they allow homemade food businesses to deliver their products through the mail to others within the state. This accounts for 10% of the Sales and Venue Restrictions grade.

Home Restrictions

This accounts for 10% of the Sales and Venue Restrictions grade. States lose 50% if they prohibit selling directly to consumers, and 25% if they prohibit pets from living in the home or if they only allow homemade food to be eaten at home (as opposed to elsewhere in public).  

Regulatory Burdens

Accounting for the remaining 30% of a state program’s final grade, Regulatory Burdens grades the ease of opening a homemade food business.

Inspections

States receive 100% if they do not require inspections before a homemade food business can start selling. States that authorize inspections of a homemade food business based on complaints or suspicion of foodborne illness do not lose points. This accounts for 30% of the Regulatory Burdens grade. 

Preemption

States receive 100% if they explicitly override and preempt local ordinances that may otherwise ban or impose additional regulations on homemade food businesses. This accounts for 25% of the Regulatory Burdens grade. 

License, Permitting, and Registration

States receive 100% if they do not require a license, permit, or registration for homemade food businesses. This accounts for 20% of the Regulatory Burdens grade. 

Recipe Approval or Lab Testing 

States receive 100% if they do not require a homemade food business to submit their recipes for approval or conduct laboratory testing prior to selling. States receive 50% if recipe approval or lab testing is only required for certain categories of food (typically acidified foods). This accounts for 15% of the Regulatory Burdens grade. 

Food Handler Training

States receive 100% if they do not require a homemade food business to complete a food handler training certification prior to selling. States receive 50% if training is only required for certain categories of food. This accounts for 10% of the Regulatory Burdens grade.

Grades

State Final GradeFinal Score
WyomingA92
MontanaA-89
OklahomaA-89
Utah Homemade FoodA-88
North DakotaA-81
Maine Food Sovereignty OrdinancesB+77
ArkansasB+74
Vermont Home CateringB72
West VirginiaB72
South DakotaB70
IndianaB70
AlabamaB67
FloridaB-66
IllinoisB-63
Oregon Domestic KitchensB-62
LouisianaB-62
TexasB-62
KansasB-62
New MexicoB-60
TennesseeC+59
Utah Microenterprise Home KitchensC+59
OhioC+59
IdahoC+59
PennsylvaniaC+58
North CarolinaC+57
New YorkC+56
ColoradoC+56
ArizonaC+56
New Hampshire Homestead LicenseC+56
Virginia Home Food Processing OperationC+54
Maine Home Food ManufacturingC+54
AlaskaC53
Wisconsin Home BakingC53
MarylandC52
Virginia Home Kitchen ExemptionsC51
South CarolinaC51
Utah Cottage FoodC51
MassachusettsC50
NebraskaC50
MissouriC48
HawaiiC48
Ohio Home BakeryC48
Oregon Farm DirectC47
Vermont Home ProcessorC47
Iowa Home Based Food OperationsC47
MinnesotaC47
MississippiC47
New HampshireC-46
California Class AC-46
Rhode Island (Farmers Only)C-45
District of ColumbiaC-45
NevadaC-45
MichiganC-45
Kentucky Home-Based ProcessorC-44
California Class BC-44
Iowa Home BakeryC-44
Wisconsin Home CanningC-41
New JerseyC-41
California Microenterprise Home KitchensD+39
GeorgiaD+38
Oregon Home BakingD+37
Vermont Home BakeryD+36
Connecticut D32
Maryland On-Farm Home ProcessingD31
Kentucky Home-Based MicroprocessorD28
WashingtonD27
Delaware On-Farm Home ProcessingD-23
Delaware Cottage FoodF16
Rhode Island (Non-Farmers)F0

Press Release

Check out this report's press release and contact our media team for additional information.

Press Release

Governor Signs Bill Expanding Connecticut Cottage Food Law 

  • Nick Sibilla
  • May 12, 2022

Gov. Ned Lamont this week signed SB 187, a bill that will expand the ability of cottage food producers across the state to earn an […]

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