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South Carolina Cottage Food Laws and Regulations: How to sell your homemade foods in South Carolina
South Carolina Cottage Food Laws, Regulations and Facts
Date of the enactment of the South Carolina cottage food law,
Cottage Bill (SC 44-1-143 H): June 7, 2012
This SC law allows home-based food operations that operates out of
an individual's home to prepare, package, store and distribute
non-potentially hazardous foods (baked goods and candy)
directly to consumers for sale.
Which foods are subject to the South Carolina Cottage Food law?
Examples of these type products are:
- baked cookies,
- baked cakes,
- baked breads*,
- baked high-acid fruit pies (apple, apricot, grape, peach,
plum, quince, orange, nectarine, blackberry, raspberry,
boysenberry, cherry, cranberry, strawberry, red currants) and
Examples of potentially hazardous baked goods include, but are
not limited to
- Moist quick breads like zucchini, pumpkin & banana may be
- pumpkin pie,
- sweet potato pie,
- cheese cake,
- custard pies,
- cream pies,
- pastries with potentially hazardous toppings or fillings.
- animal foods that are raw or heat-treated (i.e.,
- a plant food that is heat-treated or consists of
- raw seed sprouts;
- cut melons;
- cut leafy greens;
- cut tomatoes or mixtures of cut tomatoes not modified to
prevent microorganism growth or toxin formation;
- garlic-in-oil mixtures that are not modified to prevent
microorganism growth or toxin formation.
- Fresh or dried meats or poultry (jerky)
- Canned or jarred fruits, vegetables, salsas
- Fish or shellfish
- Canned or jarred pickled products (chow-chow, relish,
- Raw seed sprouts
- Refrigerated baked goods
- Vacuum sealed products
- Tempered and/or molded chocolate (fudge)
- Milk and dairy foods (yogurt, cheese, milk)
- Cut fruits or vegetables
- Cooked vegetable products
- Dried spices or herbs
- Garlic or herbs in oil mixturesJuices
- Ice/ice products
- Bar-B-Q sauces, ketchups, mustards, or marinades
- Focaccia style breads (moist quick breads like zucchini,
pumpkin, and banana)
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-based food production operation"
means an individual, operating out of the individual's dwelling,
who prepares, processes, packages, stores, and distributes
nonpotentially hazardous foods for sale directly to a person.
- "Nonpotentially hazardous foods" are candy
and baked goods that are not potentially hazardous foods.
- "Person" means an individual
- "Potentially hazardous foods"
(a) an animal food that is raw or heat-treated; a
plant food that is heat-treated or consists of raw seed sprouts;
cut melons; cut leafy greens; cut tomatoes or mixtures of cut
tomatoes not modified to prevent microorganism growth or toxin
formation; garlic-in-oil mixtures not modified to prevent
microorganism growth or toxin formation;
(b) certain foods
that are designated as Product Assessment Required (PA) because
of the interaction of the pH and Aw values in these foods. Below
is a table indicating the interaction of pH and Aw for control
of spores in food heat-treated to destroy vegetative cells and
Foods in Item 2 in the table above with a pH value greater than
5.6 and foods in item (3) with a pH value greater than 4.6 are
considered potentially hazardous unless a
product assessment is conducted pursuant to the 2009 Federal
Drug Administration Food Code.
Candies and confectioneries
(confectioneries are candies, delicacies or sweets that have
sugar as a principal ingredient, combined with coloring matter
Candy coated nuts
Candy coated dried
Candy coated popcorn
- Baked Goods
Baked high-acid fruit pies (apple, apricot, grape, peach, plum,
quince, orange, nectarine, blackberry, raspberry, boysenberry,
cherry, cranberry, strawberry, red currants).
You will need to apply for an exemption from inspection and label
review if you intend to manufacture your products at home and sell
to the end consumer at locations other than where the products were
made (i.e., from your home).
This includes selling at farmers markets, flea markets and other
similar direct-to-consumer venues. An application for exemption can
be found here on the SC
Department of Agriculture website.
You must also get a business license for tax purposes.
Cottage Food Production Operations must label all of their food products properly,
in compliance with federal laws and regulations. Labels must
- Name and address of the home-based food operation
- Name of the product being sold
- Complete ingredient list (including all allergens)
- A net wt. in customary and metric measurements
- A conspicuous statement printed in all capital letters and
in a color that provides a clear contrast to the background that
“Not for Resale - Processed and prepared by a
home-based food production operation that is not subject to
South Carolina's Food Safety Regulations.”
more help with labeling, please see this page.
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 within the state. 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,
church bake sales, schools, registered farmers markets,
and sold and/or used in preparing food in a restaurant.
- Direct sales to consumers only: These foods
cannot be sold for re-sale/wholesale.
- Annual limits: You may sell no more than
$15,000 per year.
- Exemptions: Custom, made-to-order or
special-order products do not fall under the jurisdiction of the
SC Department of Agriculture. Some examples of these type
products include, but is not limited to: wedding cakes, birthday
cakes, shower cakes, etc.
- Additional lab testing: Certain products,
those that fall outside the defined allowed foods, may
require lab analysis.
- Hygiene: Each home-based food production
operation shall maintain a clean and sanitary facility to
produce nonpotentially hazardous foods including, but not
limited to: (1) department-approved water supply; (2) a separate
storage place for ingredients used in foods intended for sale;
(3) a properly functioning refrigeration unit; (4) adequate
facilities, including a sink with an adequate hot water supply
to meet the demand for the cleaning and sanitization of all
utensils and equipment; (5) adequate facilities for the storage
of utensils and equipment; (6) adequate hand washing facilities
separate from the utensil and equipment cleaning facilities; (7)
a properly functioning toilet facility; (8) no evidence of
insect or rodent activity; and (9) department-approved sewage
disposal, either onsite treatment or publicly provided.
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
- Allergans: Most state home baking
acts require an “ingredient statement” and/or an “allergen
listing” on the label of the bakery item for sale; but if your
state does not, you should anyway. The eight major food
- crustacean shellfish,
- tree nuts,
- wheat and
- 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
Summary of different types of Bakery Operations
Permits: Bakeries, Bake Sales, and Selling Baked Goods to Store or
- Retail Bakery If you want to operate a retail bakery, you must get a food service
permit before opening, and your bakery must meet the same standards
as any other retail food service. See Regulation 61-25 Retail Food Establishments for all general
- Selling Baked Goods to Stores or Restaurants
If you plan to sell baked goods to permitted facilities like
convenience stores or restaurants, you will be regulated by and need
to contact the S.C. Department of Agriculture for instructions and
- Bake Sales and Weekend Home Bakers - No permit is needed if you do not possess a business license or
advertise, and in the case of home bakers, only prepare nonpotentially hazardous breads and pastries for friends and
- Home-Based Business (NOT an exempt Cottage Food
business): If you hope to operate a bakery out of your home, you must:
- Check with local zoning
officials to see if you are allowed to operate a home business
in your area.
- Meet the same requirements as
any other retail food service (including having a separate
kitchen for baking)
- Contact the S.C. Department of Agriculture for
forms, instructions and
requirements if you plan to sell baked goods to permitted
facilities like convenience stores and restaurants.
Questions? Contact Information:
For more information, contact
Question regarding the Home Baked Food Production Law (i.e. The
“Cottage Law”) should be directed to
- DHEC Division of Food Protection (803-896-0640)