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Date of the enactment of the home food processor rules: 1980
In Maine, cottage food processors are called "Home food processors"
A home food processor license allows you to make non-perishable food products (foods that do not require refrigeration or freezing) and are considered shelf-stable foods in your home kitchen
Some foods require lab testing (see testing requirements, below): Acidified foods need to be tested by UMaine. You must buy an accurate pH meter to test batches of your food product. Acidified foods need to be tested 24 hours after production and the equilibrium pH of each batch documented in your records.
Ppressure canned low-acid canned foods made in a home kitchen are not allows for sale in Maine.
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.
A Maine food license is required to sell any food product in Maine. There are two types of food license:
Food license applications can be obtained online from the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry, Quality Assurance and Regulations: Licenses and Permit Forms.
If your water source is from a well, the license application will
also require a water test for bacteria coliforms, nitrates and nitrites.
See Maine Health and Environmental Testing Laboratory certified laboratories list.
Home inspection: a home kitchen inspection by the Division of Quality Assurance & Regulations is required. For more information see Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry: Maine Food Inspections.
Some home-produced food products require testing be performed by the state. These include:
After you have sent in your food product sample (with the application) a letter is sent back with your test results and an individualized, comprehensive review that will include suggestions on how you can improve your food product and/or process if it does not meet certain guidelines.
A typical food test includes:
How to send in a product for testing; see: Resource: UMaine Extension's food testing website
If you have questions on submitting a sample, see:
Cottage Food Production Operations must label all of their food products properly, which includes specified information on the label of each unit of food product offered or distributed for sale.
All processed packaged foods bear a label stating the
It is recommended that honey manufacturers/processors include this additional statement to their product label: "Honey is not recommended for infants less than twelve (12) months of age".
Here is a free Microsoft Word label template which you can download and edit. These labels are already formatted to fit on Avery Template 22820 Print-to-the-Edge Oval, Labels 2" x 3-1/3", 8 per Sheet, Glossy White. You can get the label stock online (see at right).
Depending on the size of your business, your label must comply with Federal label regulations and with the new nutritional labeling law. You can download a copy of the FDA Food Labeling Guide here it s an illustrated booklet that should answer all your questions. You may see that the sample label does not include a "nutrional panel" (calories, fat, protein, vitamins, etc.) . This is because if you sell (in the U.S. only) fewer than 10,000 units and hire fewer than 10 full-time employees yearly; you do not have to have a nutrition panel on your label, nor file a small business nutritional labeling exemption notice with the FDA.
Cottage Food Products may not be sold across state lines. In other words, only be sold within the state - unless you follow applicable federal rules. They may be sold directly to the consumer from the home where the products are produced, delivered or picked up. They may also be sold through grocery stores, online, farm markets, church bake sales and other events, school sales, and sold and/or used in preparing food in a restaurant.
Beyond the requirements, common sense, good practices and reducing liability suggests you should do the following.
It's best to use a pH meter, properly calibrated on the day
used. I use this one, which is reliable and inexpensive.
And this pH meter is really good, but isn't always available.
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.
Keep a written record of every batch of product made for sale, including:
Although iInspections are not required, you should consider doing the following: