Georgia Cottage Food Laws and Regulations: How to sell your homemade foods in Georgia
Georgia Cottage Food Laws, Regulations and Facts
Date of the enactment of the Georgia cottage food law: September 2012. Under the cottage food law, there are certain types of low
risk food products that may be produced and sold out of your home
kitchen with no inspection or licensing requirements. Cottage food
sales are allowed under Georgia's Regulations Chapter 40-7-19. The
Cottage Food License allows cottage food operators to produce
non-potentially hazardous foods in home kitchens to sell to the end
users. The Georgia Department of Agriculture does not have any
limits on gross sales or the number of units that can be produced
Which foods are subject to the Georgia Cottage Food law?
Only food products that are non-potentially hazardous fall into
the cottage food category. This means foods that do not require time
and/or temperature control for safety (can be safely kept at room
temperature and do not require refrigeration).The regulation lists the food items approved as cottage food products.
This list is very specific and includes the following food
products: Here is a list:
"Cottage Food Production Operation"
according to Code means,
a person who, in the person's home, produces food items that are not potentially hazardous foods,
including bakery products, jams, jellies, candy, fruit butter, and similar products specified in rules.
These foods must be labeled properly or they will be considered misbranded or adulterated
"Home" means the primary residence occupied by the residence's owner, on the condition that the
residence contains only one stove or oven used for cooking, which may be a double oven, designed
for common residence usage and not for a commercial usage, and that the stove or oven be operated in
an ordinary kitchen within the residence.
Prohibited foods include acidified foods,
low-acid canned foods, potentially hazardous foods or
non-potentially hazardous foods not listed above. Low acid food
means any food with a finished equilibrium pH greater than 4.6
and a water activity greater than 0.85. Acidified food means a
low acid food to which acids or acid foods are added (Ex. Beans,
cucumbers, cabbage, puddings, etc.). Potentially hazardous food
means it requires temperature control because it is in a form
capable of supporting the rapid and progressive growth of
infectious or toxigenic microorganisms (Ex. Raw or cooked animal
products, cooked vegetables, garlic in oil, cheese cakes,
pumpkin pies, custard pies, cream pies, etc.).
Eggs are a separate case.
Cottage Food Production Operations must label all of their food products properly,
which include the following information on the label of each unit of food product offered or
distributed for sale:
The GDA reviews product labels for formatting only. It is up the
processor to ensure packaged cottage food products are correctly
labeled with the following information:
The BUSINESS NAME and
ADDRESS of the cottage food operation;
The COMMON NAME of the
INGREDIENTS STATEMENT listed in descending order of
predominance by weight (including all ingredients broken down into
The NET WEIGHT or VOLUME of the product;
ALLERGEN declarations following FDA requirements;*
INFORMATION if any nutritional claims are made; and
FOOD STATEMENT in 10-pt Times New Roman or Arial font, in a legible
color, in all capital letters: “MADE IN A COTTAGE FOOD OPERATION THAT IS NOT SUBJECT TO
STATE FOOD SAFETY INSPECTIONS.” *There are eight major food
allergens that must always be clearly identified on a food label in
either the ingredients statement and/or in a “Contains” statement
immediately after the ingredients statement: Milk, Eggs, Fish,
Crustacean Shellfish, Tree Nuts, Wheat, Peanuts, and Soybeans.
Aallergen labeling “as specified in federal labeling
You must identify if any of your ingredients (or that
ingredient’s sub-ingredients) are made from one of the following
fish (including shellfish, crab, lobster or shrimp), and
tree nuts (such as almonds, pecans or walnuts).
For example, if you have an ingredient made with a wheat based
product, you have two options:
Include the allergen in the ingredient list. For
example, a white bread with the following ingredient list: whole
wheat flour, water, salt and yeast: “Ingredients: whole wheat
flour, water, salt and yeast.” In this example, listing
“whole wheat flour” as an ingredient meets the requirements of
Include an allergen statement ("Contains:") after the
ingredient list. For example, a white bread with the following
ingredient list: whole wheat flour, water, sodium caseinate,
salt and yeast. “Ingredients: whole wheat flour, water,
sodium caseinate, salt and yeast. Contains: Wheat and Milk“
The "Contains" statement must reflect all the allergens found in
the product. In this example, the Milk comes from the sodium
Where may Cottage Food Production Operations sell the food products?
Cottage food operators can sell these products within the State
of Georgia directly to the consumer at non-profit events and
for-profit events (such as farmers markets), and through internet
sales. Licensed cottage food operators are not allowed to distribute
or wholesale their product, nor can they ship cottage food products
across state lines. Cottage food products cannot be distributed or
wholesaled to retail stores, restaurants or other institutions.
distribute, wholesale, and/or to sell products across state lines, a
Food Sales Establishment License is required. Domestic kitchens
cannot be licensed as food sales establishments. Domestic kitchens cannot be
licensed as food sales establishments.
License: You must obtain a cottage food license
filling out the form on the cottage food website for Georgia.
The fee for the cottage food license is $100 (or $50 if you apply
after June 30th of the year in which you apply). Include all thje
products you intend to sell, because if you add newproducts later,
you will need to complete a new application.
Please note, obtaining
a Cottage Food License in Georgia requires the applicant to complete
secure and verifiable information to verify citizenship/immigration
status. As directed by law, the GDA will utilize the Federal
Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) program
operated by the United States Department of Homeland Security.
Keep a written record of every batch of product made for sale,
Recipe, including procedures and ingredients
Amount canned and sold
Sale dates and locations
Gross sales receipts
Results of any pH test
Although iInspections are not required, you should consider doing
Use clean equipment that has been effectively sanitized
prior to use
Clean work surfaces and then sanitize with bleach water
before and after use
Keep ingredients separate from other unprocessed foods
Keep household pets out of the work area
Keep walls and floors clean
Have adequate lighting
Keep window and door screens in good repair to keep insects
Wash hands frequently while working
Consider annual testing of water if using a private well
Allergans: Most state home baking
acts require an “ingredient statement” and/or an “allergen
listing” on the label of the bakery item for sale; but if your
state does not, you should anyway. The eight major food
Cross-allergenicity: There are also
ingredients available, even flours, that can cause a
cross-allergenicity. The American Academy of Allergy Asthma &
Immunology explains cross-allergenicity as an allergic reaction
when proteins in one substance are similar to the proteins found
in another substance. For example, consumption of lupine flour
may trigger an allergic reaction to peanuts, and cricket flour
may trigger an allergic reaction to shellfish. Again, providing
such information might be a beneficial marketing tool and help
keep potential consumers safe.
The 2 Hour/4 Hour Rule - Anyone
wishing to make and sell refrigerated bakery items should
remember to follow the “2 Hour/4 Hour Rule.” This is a system
that can be implemented when potentially hazardous foods are out
of temperature control (temperatures greater than 45 degrees
Fahrenheit) during preparation, serving or display for sale. The
rule guidelines are as follows:
If a potentially hazardous food has been out of
temperature control for 2 hours or less, then it may
continue to be used or be placed back in the refrigerator.
If a potentially hazardous food has been out of
temperature control for more than 2 hours but less than 4
hours, it needs to be used quickly or discarded.
If a potentially hazardous food has been out of
temperature control for more than 4 hours, it must be
additional labeling questions and support, contact the Food Safety
Division headquarters office at 404-656-3627.
WWW.AGR.GEORGIA.GOV/FOODSAFETY Visit the Food
Safety Division’s website for additional information, including
information about getting a notarized affidavit for proof of U.S.
citizenship, Cottage Food Regulations, license application, Food
Labeling brochure, contact information for the District Offices,
FAQs, guidelines for food sold at nonprofit events, and more.
Will I need to meet local zoning or other laws? Yes.
Cottage Food Operators should contact their local city and
county governments to determine if there are local regulations
or ordinances that will prevent operation of a home-based
Can I utilize commercial type equipment such as large rotary
mixers in my cottage food operation? No. Typically a private
home is not equipped with sinks required to effectively wash,
rinse, and sanitize large commercial equipment.
Can I produce and sell cooked vegetable products, like
salsas, tomato sauces, spaghetti sauces, or foccacia bread with
roasted vegetables? No. Food products made with cooked
vegetable products do not qualify under the Cottage Food
Regulations. Manufacturers of cooked vegetable products like
salsas and tomato sauces must meet significant federal and state
training and licensing requirements. Cooked vegetables,
whether fresh or canned, usually are made from a combination of
low acid and acidified foods, and are considered a Potentially
Hazardous Food. Cooked vegetables must be held either hot (above
135°F) or cold (below 41°F). They can't be stored at room
temperature, which makes them ineligible for production in a
cottage food operation.
Can I make and sell apple butter, pumpkin butter or other
fruit butters? No. Fruit butters have significantly less
sugar than a traditional jam or jelly. It is the combination of
acid, sugar, pectin and heat that assures the safety of jams and
jellies. In fruit butters, the combination of sugar and pectin
is not large enough to assure that the butter is safe.
Additionally, with lower sugar and pectin levels, spoilage
organisms are more likely to survive the cooking process, which
would allow for a micro-environment to develop and allow for the
growth of Clostridium botulinum.
Can I make and sell hard candies or lollipops under the
Cottage Food Regulations? Yes. Hard candies, lollipops and
peppermint candies are allowed under the Cottage Food
Regulations, as long as they are packaged and sold in a way that
the required labeling information is conspicuously displayed for
Can I make and sell sweet breads, muffins or other baked
goods made with fresh fruits and vegetables like zucchini,
pumpkin, and strawberries? Yes, as long as the fruits or
vegetables are incorporated into the batter and properly baked,
labeled and packaged. The baked goods may not be decorated or
garnished with fresh fruits or vegetables.
Can I use homegrown fruits and vegetables in baked goods?
Yes. You should take care to thoroughly wash the homegrown
produce and the fruits or vegetables must be incorporated into
the batter and properly baked, labeled and packaged. The baked
goods may not be decorated or garnished with fresh fruits or
Can homegrown produce be canned and used for making baked
goods, like sweet breads, at a later date? No, but you can
use commercially canned products for baked goods, like canned
pumpkin, cherry pie filling, etc. Most homecanned products are
not approved for production under the Cottage Food Regulations,
with the exception of jams and jellies.
Can I freeze homegrown produce and use it for making baked
goods, like sweet breads, at a later date? Yes, as long as
the frozen fruits or vegetables are incorporated into the batter
and properly baked, labeled and packaged. The baked goods may
not be decorated or garnished with fresh or frozen fruits or
Can I make and sell dry bread or ‘instant' bread mixes under
the Cottage Food Regulations? Yes. Dry bread mixes are an
acceptable product to produce and sell, as long as you meet all
the requirements of the Cottage Food Regulations.
Does my chocolate fountain business qualify as a Cottage
Food Operation? I deliver and set up the fountain, and provide
chocolate dipping sauce and items to dip (cut up fruit,
pretzels, etc.) that I have prepared in my home kitchen. No.
This type of business is a catering service, or food service
business, subject to local county health department regulations
Can I sell my Cottage Foods over the Internet? Yes. Sales
and product delivery must be directly from the producer to the
end consumer located in Georgia. It is the responsibility of the
Cottage Food Operator to ensure that the Cottage Food Products
produced do not cross state lines. If their products did cross
state lines, at that time they would be subject to FDA
regulations, and would be required to obtain a Manufactured Food
Establishment License from the Department - which cannot be
issued for foods produced in a domestic kitchen.
Is it possible to place my Cottage Food Products in a store
or restaurant on consignment? No. Cottage Food products
cannot be sold on consignment. Sales must be person-to-person,
from the Cottage Food Producer to the end consumer. Cottage
Food Products would not be considered an approved source for
sale at retail establishments regulated by the Department, or
at restaurants/institutions regulated by county health