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

New York Cottage Food Law (NY Home Processor Exemption)s, Regulations and Facts

Under the Cottage Food Law (NY Home Processor Exemption), there are certain types of low risk food products that may be produced and sold with reduced requirements.  Regulatory requirements vary depending on the type of foods you plan to make and how you plan to sell them.  If you plan to prepare and sell foods and are not eligible for a Home Processor exemption, you will need to obtain a Food Service Establishment permit from your local health department. Your home kitchen cannot be used, however a separate kitchen located in your residence may be acceptable. It also depends upon where you live in the state. Date of the enactment of the cottage food law: January 2012

Which foods are subject to the New York Cottage Food Law (NY Home Processor Exemption)?

Only food products that are non-potentially hazardous fall into the home processor exemption. This will allow you to prepare food in your home kitchen for wholesale or retail sale at agricultural farm venues. This exemption is restricted to the following non-potentially hazardous home processed foods.

  • Breads (no fruit/vegetable breads - i.e. banana bread, zucchini bread, etc.)
  • Rolls
  • Cookies
  • Cakes
  • Cupcakes
  • Brownies
  • Fudge
  • Double-crust fruit pies (pies must have both a top and bottom crust)
  • Fruit jams, jellies, and marmalades made with high acid/low pH fruits (i.e. Apple, Apricot, Blackberry, Blueberry, Cherry, Clementine, Cranberry, Currents, Elderberry, Grape, Grapefruit, Lemon, Lime, Mango, Nectarine, Orange, Peach, Pear, Pineapple, Plum, Raspberry and Strawberry)
  • Repacking/blending of commercially dried spices or herbs
  • Popcorn/Caramel corn
  • Peanut brittle
  • Granola (using commercially processed nuts)
  • Candy (excluding chocolate) - tempering/melting chocolate for molding or dipping is not allowed.

Prohibited foods

Any finished food product that requires refrigeration is not allowed to be produced as a Home Processor. Some examples of prohibited items include, but are not limited to:

  • Any Products Containing Raw Nuts
  • Breads containing Fruits or Vegetables
  • Pickled or Fermented Foods
  • Cheesecake, Cream Filled Pastries
  • Chocolate Candy/Products Dipped in Chocolate
  • Wine Jellies, Vegetable Jellies, Chutneys, Butters
  • Cooked or Canned Fruits or Vegetables
  • Cheese, Yogurt, Fluid Dairy Products
  • Meat, Fish, or Poultry Products
  • Vegetable Oils, Blended Oils
  • Sauces, Salsas, Marinades, Relishes, Pickles
  • Custom (Wedding/Birthday/Anniversary/Graduation) Cakes, Cupcakes, Cookies etc.

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 processed food - Section 276.3 of the New York State Agriculture and Markets regulations states in part that "Home processed food… shall mean any food processed in a private home or residence using only the ordinary kitchen facilities of that home… but shall exclude potentially hazardous food…" NOTE: Commercial equipment is not considered ordinary kitchen facilities.

Labeling requirements

Cottage Food Production Operations must label all of their food products properly. Product labels are required to contain the following information:

  • common/usual name of the product,
  • ingredient list in predominance by weight,
  • net quantity of contents, and
  • processor name and full address.

Where may Cottage Food Production Operations sell the food products?

 All items are for wholesale marketing or retail agricultural venues such as farms, farm stands, farmers markets, green markets, craft fairs and flea markets, or by direct delivery, all within New York State and must be properly labeled. 
You may only sell your products within the state of New York.
You may not sell directly from your home or through the Internet.

Other requirements

  • If on a private water system (well) resident must have a water test analysis performed for Coliform, and include a copy of the test results with application, before a home processor can be registered.
  •  Direct internet sales (commercial on-line transactions) are prohibited under this exemption. Use of the internet for communication or promotional purposes is permissible. This exemption does not allow for home processors to make specialty items, such as birthday cakes, wedding cakes, graduation cakes etc. Furthermore, it does not allow for direct sales of product from the home.
  • Separate facilities: Home processors whose residences contain separate segregated facilities for food processing, may apply for licensing under Article 20-C.
  • Zoning:  Homeowners should consult with local zoning officials for approval before commencing any home-based business.
  • Article 20-C licensing and inspection: Food, among others, are not allowed to be made in an unlicensed and uninspected facility. The exemption relates only to Article 20-C licensing. The exempt firm will be subject to registration by the Department of Agriculture and Markets. For more detailed information, please contact the nearest regional office.

How to get started

Apply for a “home processing exemption” or “20-C exemption to the licensing laws that usually apply to food manufacturers. Download the application here.

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

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

FAQs and more resources:

External resources and links

FAQs

Q. How long does it take to receive my approval for home processing from your Department?
A. Approval generally takes two weeks.

Q. Do I need to have my kitchen inspected?
A. Kitchens are reviewed on a complaint basis only.

Q. Can I have a website?
A. Although internet sales are prohibited under this exemption, Home Processors are allowed to have websites to indicate where their products will be available, (i.e. farmers market locations, etc.). This exemption does not allow for home processors to make specialty items, such as birthday cakes, wedding cakes, etc. per order. Furthermore, this does not allow for direct sales of any products from the home.

Q. Are interstate sales allowed?
A. No, all home processed foods must be sold within New York State.

Q. What information needs to be on my label?
A. Product labels are required to contain the following information: common/usual name of the product, ingredient list in predominance by weight, net quantity of contents, and processor name and full address.

Q. Do I have to put my home address on the label?
A. The place of business shall include the street address or PO Box, city, State and ZIP code. However, the street address may be omitted if the address can be found via telephone directory or internet.

Q. Why are fruit/vegetable breads prohibited under this exemption?
A. Fruit/vegetable breads generally demonstrate a higher moisture content which requires refrigeration. Refrigerated products are not allowed as a registered Home Processor.

Q. Why is tempering/melting chocolate for candy and/or dipping not allowed?
A. Chocolate and chocolate-like products have been implicated in food borne illnesses. Melting chocolate is not a thermal process (no control step). Chocolate melts at very low temperatures.

Q. Why are raw nuts prohibited under this exemption?
A. The use of raw nuts is not allowed because there is no control step with raw products. Raw nuts have been linked to Foodborne Illness i.e. salmonell
A. Processors who wish to use nuts in their products may use commercially processed (roasted, blanched, baked) nuts.

Q. Am I required to obtain liability insurance?
A. The Department does not mandate you to obtain insurance. Consult an attorney or an insurance professional to discuss your product liability concerns and risks.

Q. Can I get a home processor license exemption to make products for me to sell at my store or my restaurant?
A. No. The home processor license exemption is not available to anyone who holds a DOH permit or Ag & Markets license. When a license or permit is held, all foods offered for commercial sale must be made at the licensed or permitted facility.

Q. Can I make items other than those listed? Why am I limited to these items?
A. The home processor license exemption is limited to foods where there is not a history of food borne illness and the nature of the product makes the possibility of illness less likely.

Q. Why can't I make certain items, such as peanut butter or items requiring refrigeration, from my home?
A. Items where there are legitimate food safety concerns, including products where there is no pathogen kill step, products which have been implicated in outbreaks, products considered Temperature Controlled for Safety (TCS) or Potentially Hazardous

 

Questions? Contact Information:

Completed form FSI-898c and water test results when required, can be e-mailed to: [email protected] or mailed to: NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets Food Safety and Inspection 10B Airline Drive Albany, NY 12235 NOTE: Pet foods and pet treats can be made from the home, but require a separate registration. For more information related to manufacturing and distributing of PET FOODS, please contact [email protected]

REGIONAL OFFICES

NEW YORK     (718) 722-2876

NEWBURGH    (845) 220-2047

HAUPPAUGE    (631) 952-3079 

ALBANY         (518) 457-5459

SYRACUSE    (315) 487-0852 

ROCHESTER      (585) 427-2273

BUFFALO  (716) 847-3185

pet food or pet treats, contact Cory Skier at [email protected]