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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:
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:
Similar baked goods
Vinegar and flavored vinegars
Cakes, including celebration cakes (birthday, anniversary,
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
Fruit jams and jellies (as defined in 21 CFR part 150) in glass
jars that can be stored at room temperature (except vegetable
Dry herbs and dry herb mixtures
Dry baking mixes
Dry dip mixes
Dry soup mixes
Dehydrated vegetables or fruits
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
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
Potential Hazardous Foods PHF/TCS is a food that:
Contains moisture (water activity greater than 0.85)
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
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
Foccaccia style breads with fresh vegetables and/or cheeses
Food products made from fresh cut tomatoes, cut melons or cut
Food products made with cooked vegetable products that are not
Sauces and condiments, including barbeque sauce, hot sauce,
ketchup, or mustard
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.
- “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.
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
The net weight or net volume of the Cottage Food product (must
also include the metric equivalent - conversion charts are
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. 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: 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
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.
- 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.
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.
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,
- Recipe, including procedures and ingredients
- Amount canned and sold
- Canning date
- 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
- 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
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