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. 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.
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.
What types of Cottage Foods can I produce in my home?
Non-potentially hazardous foods that do not require time and/or
temperature control for safety (can be safely kept at room
temperature and do not require refrigeration). Specific products
are listed in the guidance document.
What are Potentially Hazardous Foods A producer of
Potentially Hazardous Food does not qualify as a Cottage Food
Operator. "Potentially Hazardous Food" is defined in the Cottage
Food Regulations in 40-7-19-.02(16) and is used to classify
foods that require time-temperature control (cannot be safely
kept at room temperature; and therefore require refrigeration)
to keep them safe for human consumption. Examples of
Potentially Hazardous Foods are as follows: - Meat (beef,
pork, lamb); - Poultry (chicken, turkey, duck); - Fish;
- Shellfish and crustaceans; - Eggs; - Milk and dairy
products; - Cooked, plant-based foods (e.g., cooked rice,
beans, or vegetables); - Baked potatoes; - Certain
synthetic ingredients; - Mushrooms; - Raw sprouts; -
Tofu and soy-protein foods; and - Untreated garlic and oil
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.
The farmers market where I want to sell my products says I
need a Food Sales Establishment License, even though I have
obtained a Cottage Food License from the Georgia Department of
Agriculture. Can the market require a license? Yes. Even
though an entity may be licensed as a Cottage Food Operation,
some farmers markets or other direct marketing venues may
require vendors to have a Food Sales Establishment License.
Local policies enacted by farmers market boards and other
local governing bodies are outside the scope of the Department’s
Cottage Food Regulations.
Are there any special requirements regarding my home on-site
well? Yes. Only potable water from a properly constructed
on-site well or municipal water system can be used. If a well is
used, the well water should be tested, at least annually, for
coliform bacteria and nitrates. Water from wells with any of the
following features should be avoided:
Very shallow depth (< 25 ft);
Producing cloudy water;
Located in below-ground pit;
Missing cap or seal;
Opening around casing pipe;
Located in close proximity to septic system ; or
Local county health departments can provide consultation on
drinking water quality and well construction.
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 bake bread in a wood fired oven under the Cottage Food
Regulations? Yes, as long as that oven is in your home
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 press and sell apple cider under the Cottage Food
Regulations? No. Apple cider is not a food allowed to be
produced. No beverages are allowed to be produced under the
Cottage Food Regulations.
Are honey and syrup covered under the Cottage Food
Regulations? No. Honey and syrup are not considered cottage
foods, because state regulatory requirements and exemptions
typically have some significant differences. Please contact the
Food Safety Division for more information.
Can I make and sell dehydrated meats under the Cottage Food
Regulations? No. Meats are a Potentially Hazardous Food and
are not allowed under the Cottage Food Regulations.
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
Are there any special requirements for tree nuts labeling
for allergens? Yes, if the Cottage Food has tree nuts as an
ingredient, you must specifically identify which tree nut you
are using. For example, if you made Nut Bread, an acceptable
ingredient list would be: “Ingredients: wheat flour, water,
almonds, salt, yeast.” The following list would not be
acceptable: “Ingredients: flour, water, nuts, salt, yeast.”
I am concerned that some of my product ingredients that are
not allergens are "trade secrets" and listing all my ingredients
would lead to unfair competition. Do I have to list all of my
ingredients or can I protect my trade secrets? According to
federal regulations (Food and Drug Administration (FDA), 21CFR
101.100g(1)(2)), exceptions to labeling can be made. In
particular, if the Commissioner of Food and Drugs finds that
alleged secret ingredients are harmless an exemption may be
granted. You should contact the FDA to discuss and propose an
exemption from labeling.
Do I have to include my home address on my product labeling,
or is a post office box sufficient? You must use the physical
address of your home kitchen on your product label, not a post
office box. The Cottage Food Regulations specify that the name
and address of the business of the Cottage Food Operation must
be included on the label. The purpose of including an address on
product labels is to be able to locate the business in case of a
recall or trace-back associated with a foodborne illness
complaint or outbreak.
Am I required to send my products to a laboratory to obtain
an official ingredient list, or is it something I can put
together on my own? You are not required to have your product
analyzed by a laboratory to obtain an official ingredient list.
You must, however, list all ingredients, in descending order of
predominance by weight. Allergen labeling, as specified in
federal labeling requirements, must also be included.
Can I make and sell products from my motor home kitchen, or
cottage or summer home under the Cottage Food Regulations?
The Cottage Food Regulations allow only non-potentially
hazardous foods to be made in the domestic kitchen of the
domesticresidence. Secondary homes, vacation homes, or motor
homes do not qualify if they are not the primary residence.
Can I make products in a rented kitchen (or Shared Kitchen
facility) and sell them under the Cottage Food Regulations?
No. The Cottage Food Regulations allow only non-potentially
hazardous foods to be made in the domestic kitchen of the
domestic residence. Food manufacturing operations conducted in a
rented kitchen (or Shared Kitchen) would require a Food Sales
Establishment License to sell your products.
Can I make Cottage Food products in an outbuilding on my
property, like a shed or a barn? No. The Cottage Food
Regulations require Cottage Food Products to be made in the
domestic kitchen of a single family domestic residence.
Can nonprofit organizations produce and sell Cottage Foods?
No. Nonprofits do not have a single family domestic residence,
and therefore do not qualify as a Cottage Food Operation.There
is an exemption to licensing for food sold at an event sponsored
by a nonprofit organization in O.C.G.A. § 26-2-21. Nonprofits
can contact the Department for additional information about the
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.
Can I sell my Cottage Foods to a wholesaler, broker or
distributor? No. The Cottage Food Regulations state in
40-7-19-.05(2) “Sale of Cottage Food Products must be to the end
consumer. No distribution or wholesale allowed, including
hotels, restaurants, or institutions.” It is not legal for a
Cottage Food Producer to sell to a wholesaler, broker or
distributor who would then resell the product.
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