Cottage Food Industry: What is it?

May 4, 2019

Loosely defined, a Cottage Food production operation is a person who, in the person’s home, produces food items, including bakery products, jams, jellies, candy, fruit butter and similar products. The Cottage Food producers often use farmer’s markets, roadside stands and the Internet to sell their items. By reviewing a summary of the guidelines, consumers can become more aware of food safe handling for the products being sold.

Sales Facts

The individual who makes the cottage foods must be the same individual who sells the foods.

The food must be sold and delivered directly to the ultimate consumer by the individual who made it.

Cottage foods sales may be done from the home, at farmer’s markets, at community events, or on the Internet. While cottage foods can be sold on the Internet, they still must be delivered by the individual who prepared them directly to the ultimate consumer. What about those who own a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)? Customers must come to the business owners’ home to pick up products, or the producer must deliver them directly to customers.

Pressure canning is required to process acidic fruits or acidified foods, as long as there is an approved pressure canner process for the product you want to can. Contact your local Extension office for specific recipes, or for classes, and visit freshpreserving.com for research-based recipes. For example, there are some naturally acidic fruits and acidified tomato products that do have tested procedures for pressure canning and those products are allowed.

Cottage foods must be labeled with the following information.

• The name and complete home address of the registered individual preparing the food;

• The date the food was prepared; the list of ingredients contained in the product, including allergens. The allergens of concern are: milk, eggs, wheat, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, and shellfish.

• If you sell individual baked goods, you must display the label near the foods at the point of sale.

Producers must also post a notice at the point of sale (including on their website if they sell on the internet) as follows: “These products are homemade and not subject to state inspection.” And “These canned goods are homemade and not subject to state inspection.”

To learn more about advancing your home-based food business into a Cottage Food Industry, contact the Department of Health and Welfare, then your specific district for guidelines which apply to the state of Idaho. A Cottage Food Risk Assessment Form from www.foodsafety.idaho.gov will guide you through questions to determine the food’s qualifications.

Julie Buck, EdD, RDN, is a registered dietitian, who is employed as a Family and Consumer Sciences Educator at the University of Idaho Extension, Bingham County. She can be reached at (208)785-8060 or jhbuck@uidaho.edu.