Find a local pick your own farm here!

Looking for South Carolina Cottage Food Laws and Regulations: How to sell your homemade foods in South Carolina in 2018?  Scroll down this page and  follow the links. And if you bring home some fruit or vegetables and want to can, freeze, make jam, salsa or pickles, see this page for simple, reliable, illustrated canning, freezing or preserving directions. There are plenty of other related resources, click on the resources dropdown above.

If you have questions or feedback, please let me know!  

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
  • candy.

Prohibited foods

Examples of potentially hazardous baked goods include, but are not limited to

  • Moist quick breads like zucchini, pumpkin & banana may be potentially hazardous.
  • 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., meats);
  • 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, pickles)
  • 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.

Definitions:

  • "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.
  • Candy:
    Candies and confectioneries (confectioneries are candies, delicacies or sweets that have sugar as a principal ingredient, combined with coloring matter and/or flavoring)
    Candy coated nuts
    Candy coated dried fruits
    Candy coated popcorn
    Cotton candy
    Candy apples
    Popcorn balls
  •  Baked Goods
    Loaf breads
    Rolls
    Biscuits
    Baked cookies
    Baked granola
    Baked cakes
    Baked high-acid fruit pies (apple, apricot, grape, peach, plum, quince, orange, nectarine, blackberry, raspberry, boysenberry, cherry, cranberry, strawberry, red currants).

Licensing

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.

Labeling requirements

Cottage Food Production Operations must label all of their food products properly, in compliance with federal laws and regulations. Labels must include:

  •  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 reads
    Not for Resale – Processed and prepared by a home-based food production operation that is not subject to South Carolina’s Food Safety Regulations.

For 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.

OOther requirements

  • 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.

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

  • 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 allergens are
    • milk,
    • eggs,
    • fish,
    • crustacean shellfish,
    • tree nuts,
    • peanuts,
    • wheat and
    • soybean.
  • 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.

MMore resources:

Summary of different types of Bakery Operations

Permits: Bakeries, Bake Sales, and Selling Baked Goods to Store or Restaurants

  • 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 requirements.
  • 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 requirements.
  • 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 neighbors.
  • 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 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)