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Indiana Cottage Food Laws and Regulations: How to sell your homemade foods in Indiana

Indiana Cottage Food Laws, Regulations and Facts

Date of the enactment of the Indiana cottage food law: HEA 1309 passed in 2009 by Indiana Indiana has a broad definition of allowable food products.  It is any food below a certain pH value or water activity level, which basically allows nearly any kind of non-potentially hazardous food. There is no registration, fees, or process to get setup, and there is no limitation to how much a vendor can sell.BUT the foods may only be sold at farmers markets and roadside stands within the state.

Which foods are subject to the Indiana Cottage Food law?

Any food with a pH value of less than 4.6 and a water activity value of less than 0.85 is allowed by Indiana. This includes:

  • Baked goods – cakes, fruit pies, cookies, brownies, dry noodles
  •  Candy and confections – caramels, chocolates,fudge, hard candy
  •  Produce – whole and unprocessed
  •  Tree nuts and legumes
  • Honey, molasses, sorghum, maple syrup
  •  Jams, jellies, preserves – only high acid fruit; they may be temperature controlled only for quality

Excluded Foods:

These include

  • low sugar jams and jellies,
  •  pumpkin and pear fruit butters,
  • Meat (domestic or wild)
  •  Poultry
  •  Aquatic animal products
  •  Dairy (including raw milk), Excluding some baked items and dried
  •  Egg products, Excluding some baked items and dried
  • noodles
  • Using of “reduced oxygen packaging” (ROP) methods
  •  Canned or hermetically sealed containers of acidified or low-acid foods (such as pickles, salsa)
  •  Cut melons
  •  Raw seed sprouts
  •  Non-modified garlic-in-oil mixtures
  •  Cut tomatoes and cut leafy greens (salads)

If your food product does not meet the definition of a Cottage Food, you may still be able to make and sell it commercially, through a startup approach.  See this page for detailed information about selling foods that do not meet the Cottage Food definition.

Definitions:

  • Home-Based Vendor” (HBV)  is an individual selling a food product at at a farmer’s market or roadside stand ,if
    • the vendor’s food product is MADE in the individual’s primary residence (or in an adjacent area on the same property)
    • and the kitchen is not a commercial kitchen (regulated food establishment) and
    • the food is NOT a potentially hazardous food product
  • Farmers’ market: a common facility where two or more farmers or growers gather on a regular recurring basis to sell a variety of fruits,vegetables and other farm products directly to consumers. It can be combined with other events, but must be with
    the farmer’s market and it must not be an individual produce market operated by a person or company.
  • Roadside stand: a place, building, or structure along, or near, a road, street, lane, avenue, boulevard, or highway where a HBV sells food product(s) to the public. This does NOT include the HBV’s residence or a regulated food establishment. 

Sample Maryland  labelLabeling requirements

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:

 HBV food products must be labeled and the label must include the following:

  •  Producer’s name and address
  •  Common name of food product
  •  Ingredients of food product
  •  Net weight and volume
  •  Date food product was processed
  •  The following statement in 10 point type:
    “This product is home produced and processed and the production area has not been inspected by the State Department of Health.”

In place of labeling on the product a placard may be used in some situations:

  •  When the product sold is not packaged
  •  Must contain all the same required labeling information
  •  Labeling is encouraged in most situations

Where may Cottage Food Production Operations sell the food products?

Cottage Food Products may only be sold within the state. They may be sold directly to the consumer at registered farm markets and roadside stands. That's it; nowhere else.

Other requirements

The basics of HBV’s:

  •  may only sell non-potentially hazardous food products (as defined above) made in their primary residence with limited regulatory oversight
  •  may only sell their food products at a farmers’ market and a roadside stand
  •  may not sell their products with the intent to be resold
  •  must meet the requirements listed in statute

Recommendations:

Beyond the requirements, common sense, good practices and reducing liability suggests you should do the following.

Testing of pH

​It’s best to use a pH meter, properly calibrated on the day used. I use this one, which is reliable and inexpensive.
Short-range paper pH test strips, commonly known as litmus paper, may be used instead, if the product normally has a pH of 4.0 or lower and the paper’s range includes a pH of 4.6.

Record-keeping is suggested

Keep a written record of every batch of product made for sale, including:

  • ​Recipe, including procedures and ingredients
  • Amount canned and sold
  • Canning date
  • Sale dates and locations
  • Gross sales receipts
  • Results of any pH test

Sanitation

Although iInspections are not required, you should consider doing the following:

  • ​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 out
  • Wash hands frequently while working
  • Consider annual testing of water if using a private well

Best Practices

  • 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 allergens are
    • milk,
    • eggs,
    • fish,
    • crustacean shellfish,
    • tree nuts,
    • peanuts,
    • wheat and
    • soybean.
  • 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 discarded.

More resources:

Questions? Contact Information:

Indiana State: Phone: 317-233-1325