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

Michigan Cottage Food Laws, Regulations and Facts

Date of the enactment of the Michigan cottage food law: 2010, Cottage Foods Law

Which foods are subject to the Michigan Cottage Food law?

Certain non-potentially hazardous foods (time and/or temperature controls not required to assure food safety;- meaning foods can safely be kept at room temperature and do not require refrigeration) meet the requirements for cottage foods and can be prepared in a home kitchen and sold directly to consumers without a license. Many of these items are identified by MDARD. Examples include:

  • Breads
  • Similar baked goods
  • Vinegar and flavored vinegars
  • Cakes, including celebration cakes (birthday, anniversary, wedding)
  • Sweet breads and muffins that contain fruits or vegetables (e.g., pumpkin or zucchini bread)
  • Cooked fruit pies, including pie crusts made with butter, lard or shortening
  • Fruit jams and jellies (as defined in 21 CFR part 150) in glass jars that can be stored at room temperature (except vegetable jams/jellies)
  • Cookies
  • Dry herbs and dry herb mixtures
  • Dry baking mixes
  • Dry dip mixes
  • Dry soup mixes
  • Dehydrated vegetables or fruits
  • Popcorn
  • Cotton Candy
  • Non-potentially hazardous dry bulk mixes sold wholesale can be repackaged into a Cottage Food product. Similar items already packaged and labeled for retail sale can not be repackaged and/or relabeled
  • Chocolate covered pretzels, marshmallows, graham crackers, Rice Krispies treats, strawberries, pineapple or bananas
  • Coated or uncoated nuts
  • Dried pasta made with eggs
  • Roasted coffee beans or ground roasted coffee
  • Vanilla extract (Note: these products require licensing by the Michigan Liquor Control Commission)
  • Baked goods that contain alcohol, like rum cake or bourbon balls (Note: these products require licensing by the Michigan Liquor Control Commission)

 

Prohibited foods

Potential Hazardous Foods PHF/TCS is a food that:

  •  Contains moisture (water activity greater than 0.85)
  •  Contains protein
  •  Is neutral to slightly acidic ( pH between 4.6 and 7.5)

Please refer to the 2009 Michigan Modified Food Code for pH and water activity tables.Examples of PHF/TCS foods include:

  • Meat and meat products like fresh and dried meats (jerky)
  • Fish and fish products like smoked fish
  • Raw seed sprouts
  • Vegetable jams/jellies (e.g., hot pepper jelly)
  • Canned fruits or vegetables like salsa or canned peaches
  • Canned fruit or vegetable butters like pumpkin or apple butter
  • Canned pickled products like corn relish, pickles or sauerkraut
  • Pies or cakes that require refrigeration to assure safety like banana cream, pumpkin, lemon meringue or custard pies; cheesecake; and cakes with glaze or frosting that requires refrigeration (e.g., cream cheese frosting)
  • Milk and dairy products like cheese or yogurt
  • Cut melons
  • Caramel apples
  • Hummus
  • Garlic in oil mixtures
  • All beverages, including fruit/vegetable juices, Kombucha tea, and apple cider
  • Ice and ice products
  • Cut tomatoes or chopped/shredded leafy greens
  • Confections that contain alcohol, like truffles or liqueur-filled chocolates
  • Foccaccia style breads with fresh vegetables and/or cheeses
  • Food products made from fresh cut tomatoes, cut melons or cut leafy greens
  • Food products made with cooked vegetable products that are not canned
  • Sauces and condiments, including barbeque sauce, hot sauce, ketchup, or mustard
  • Salad dressings
  • Pet food or treats

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" or "single family domestic residence" This is the place where you live, whether you own the home or are renting. So an apartment, condominium or a rental home all could be a single family domestic residence. It does not include group or communal residential settings, such as group homes, sororities or fraternities.

Licensing

Labeling requirementsSample Michigan Cottage Foods Label

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:

  • Name and physical address of the Cottage Food operation. (You must use the physical address of your home kitchen; Post Office Box addresses are not adequate).
  • Name of the Cottage Food product (All capital letters or upper/lower case are both acceptable).
  • The ingredients of the Cottage Food product, in descending order of predominance by weight. If you use a prepared item in your recipe, you must list the sub ingredients as well. For example: soy sauce is not acceptable, soy sauce (wheat, soybeans, salt) would be acceptable, please see the label below for further examples.
  • The net weight or net volume of the Cottage Food product (must also include the metric equivalent - conversion charts are available online).
  • Allergen labeling as specified in federal labeling requirements.
  • The following statement: "Made in a home kitchen that has not been inspected by the Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development" in at least the equivalent of 11-point font (about 1/8" tall) and in a color that provides a clear contrast to the background (All capital letters or upper/lower case are both acceptable).

Hand-printed labels are acceptable if they are clearly legible, written with durable, permanent ink, and printed large enough to equal the font size requirements listed above.

Allergans: you must identify if any of your ingredients are made from one of the following food groups: milk, eggs, wheat, peanuts, soybeans, fish (including shellfish, crab, lobster or shrimp) and tree nuts (such as almonds, pecans or walnuts). So if you have an ingredient made with a wheat based product, you have two options: 1. Include the allergen in the ingredient list. For example, a white bread with the following ingredient listing: whole wheat flour, water, salt and yeast. In this example the statement Whole Wheat Flour, meets the requirements of federal law. 2. Include an allergen statement (“Contains:”) after the ingredient list. For example a white bread, with the following ingredients: whole wheat flour, water, sodium caseinate, salt and yeast. Contains wheat and milk. ƒ The “Contains” statement must reflect all the allergens found in the product. In this example, the sodium caseinate comes from milk.

You must identify which tree nut you are using. For example, if you made the following product: ƒ Nut Bread, an acceptable ingredient list would be: wheat flour, water, almonds, salt, yeast. The following would not be acceptable: flour, water, nuts, salt, yeast.

Here is an example of a label that should help you develop your own labels. And here is a detailed labeling guide.

 

Where may Cottage Food Production Operations sell the food products?

You may sell your Cottage Foods directly to the consumer at farmers' markets, farm stands, roadside stands and similar venues. The key is you are selling it directly to the consumer.

You cannot sell your Cottage Foods to a retailer for them to resell or to a restaurant for use or sale in the restaurant.

You cannot sell your Cottage Foods over the internet, by mail order, or to wholesalers, brokers or other food distributors who will resell the Cottage Foods.

Other requirements

  • You are limited in the amount of money you can make selling Cottage Foods to $20,000 gross sales annually per household. The limit was increased, effective October 1, 2012, from $15,000 per year in gross sales to $20,000 per year.  The limit will increase again December 31, 2017 to $25,000 per year.  You need to maintain sales records and provide them to a Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development (MDARD) food inspector, upon request (MDARD has regulatory responsibility for the Cottage Food Law.).
  • Llocal zoning or other laws:  the Cottage Food exemption does not exempt you fromm these; it only exempts you from the requirements of licensing and routine inspection by the Michigan Department of Agriculture.

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

  • On site wells - annually testing your well for coliforms and nitrates is recommended. Contact your local health department for sampling containers and directions.
  • 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.

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