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

Ohio Cottage Food Laws, Regulations and Facts

Under the Ohio cottage food law, there are certain types of low risk food products that may be produced and sold out of your home kitchen with no inspection or licensing requirements.

Which foods are subject to the Ohio Cottage Food law?

Only food products that are non-potentially hazardous fall into the cottage food category. Ohio Administrative Code Section 901:3-20-04 lists the food items approved as cottage food products. This list is very specific and includes the following food products: Here is a list:

  • Non-potentially hazardous bakery products (such as cookies, breads, brownies, cakes, and fruit pies)
  • Jams, Jellies and fruit butters (like apple butter)
  • Candy (including no-bake cookies, chocolate covered pretzels or similar chocolate covered non-perishable items)
  • Granola, granola bars, granola bars dipped in candy
  • Popcorn, flavored popcorn, kettle corn, popcorn balls, caramel corn (does not include un-popped popping corn)
  • Certain baked goods like unfilled, baked donuts, Waffle cones, Pizzelles
  • Dry cereal and nut snack mixes with seasonings
  • Roasted coffee, whole beans or ground and Dry tea blends
  • Dry baking mixes in a jar (for making items like breads and cookies)
  • Dry herbs and herb blends
  • Dry seasoning blends (such as dry barbeque rubs and seafood boils)

The following were recent added, effective January 22, 2016

  • Flavored honey produced by a beekeeper, if a minimum of 75% of the honey is from the beekeeper’s own hives;
  • Fruit chutneys;
  • Maple sugar produced by a maple syrup processor, if at least 75% of the sap used to make the maple syrup is collected directly from trees by the processor;
  • Waffle cones dipped in candy;
  • Dry soup mixes containing commercially dried vegetables, beans, grains, and seasonings.

And two revisions clarify foods that do not fall under the cottage food law:

  • Fresh fruit that is dipped, covered, or otherwise incorporated with candy;
  • Popping corn.
  • Fruit in granola products  (If adding fruit to granola, granola bars, or granola bars dipped in candy, which are all cottage food products, the fruit must be commercially dried.)

Definitions:

  •  "Cottage Food Production Operation" according to Chapter 3715 of the Ohio Revised Code means, a person who, in the person's home, produces food items that are not potentially hazardous foods, including bakery products, jams, jellies, candy, fruit butter, and similar products specified in rules. These foods must be labeled properly or they will be considered misbranded or adulterated
  • "Home" means the primary residence occupied by the residence's owner, on the condition that the residence contains only one stove or oven used for cooking, which may be a double oven, designed for common residence usage and not for a commercial usage, and that the stove or oven be operated in an ordinary kitchen within the residence.
  • Prohibited foods include acidified foods, low-acid canned foods, potentially hazardous foods or non-potentially hazardous foods not listed above. Low acid food means any food with a finished equilibrium pH greater than 4.6 and a water activity greater than 0.85. Acidified food means a low acid food to which acids or acid foods are added (Ex. Beans, cucumbers, cabbage, puddings, etc.). Potentially hazardous food means it requires temperature control because it is in a form capable of supporting the rapid and progressive growth of infectious or toxigenic microorganisms (Ex. Raw or cooked animal products, cooked vegetables, garlic in oil, cheese cakes, pumpkin pies, custard pies, cream pies, etc.).
    For example, salsas, BBQ sauces, canned vegetables, frozen foods and homemade hummus must be produced in a licensed facility.  Specifically, salsas, BBQ sauces, and canned vegetables must be produced in a licensed cannery facility.   Licensing information for these types of food products  is available on the Ohio Department of Agriculture’s website.
  • Eggs are a separate case.  See this page for information about selling eggs in Ohio

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.

Labeling 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:

  • A Statement of Identity - the name of the food product
  • Net Quantity of Contents - the net weight, in both U.S. Customary System and International System
  • Ingredient List - ingredients of the food product, listed in descending order of predominance by weight
  • Statement of Responsibility - the name and address of the business
  • The following statement in ten-point type: "This Product is Home Produced".
  • Note: If nutrient content claims (i.e. low fat, salt free, etc.) or health claims (i.e. may reduce heart disease) are made, the product must bear all required nutritional information in the form of the Nutrition Facts panel. All labeling components are to comply with 21 CFR Part 101, food labeling. The FDA Food Labeling Guide is an excellent resource of the proper labeling of food products.

     Click here  for the FDA Food Labeling Guide

    And here for a Sample Label

    Where may Cottage Food Production Operations sell the food products?

    Cottage Food Products may not be sold across state lines.  In other words,  only be sold in Ohio. They may be sold directly to the consumer from the home where the products are produced. They may also be sold through grocery stores, registered farm markets, registered farmers markets, and sold and/or used in preparing food in a restaurant.

    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

    Questions? Contact ODA Division of Food Safety:

    1-800-282-1955 Ext 4366

    Request an Appointment via email

    You will also find more information on this Ohio University Extension Farm Office page.