Maine Cottage Food Law

Getting started in Maine as a cottage food producer requires a Home Food Processor License and a home kitchen inspection. There are few limitations on what you can make and sell, and where you can sell your homemade food. Ready to take your cottage food business online? We’ll help you build an online store in minutes.
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Where can you sell?

In Maine, you can sell cottage foods at fairs, festivals, farmers markets, home, online, in restaurants, retail stores, and at roadside stands.

What kinds of food can you sell?

Maine permits the sale of bread, candies, condiments, dry goods, pastries, preserves, and snacks.

What should be on my product labels?

Labels must include allergens, business address, business name, ingredients, net amount, and product name.

Is there an income cap?

There is no limit to how much a home-based vendor can sell in Maine.

Are there any special requirements?

In Maine, pets and smoking are not permitted in a cottage kitchen. You must obtain a Home Food Processor License and get your home kitchen inspected.

Where can I find more information?

Contact Beth Calder at or 207-581-2791. Learn more about Maine's cottage food laws here.

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*Cottage food laws change regularly — always double check the requirements for running a home-based food business with a legal expert or your local health department.

Maine Cottage Food Law

Cottage food laws are the controls and regulations put in place to monitor the food people can cook, bake, or prepare from a home kitchen Maine. This intention is to control the sale of this food to the general public. Most states enacted these laws around 2014 to 2017, but the bar was set in 1980 with the Maine cottage food law. This was not technically a cottage food law. It was called a home manufacturing law, but it really was the beginning. Maine food service regulations are some of the best and most flexible you will find throughout the states. For example, the Maine cottage bakery laws allow a licensed home kitchen to sell products that are stable on a shelf. This means they do not require time or temperature control for safety.

In 2015, Maine cottage kitchen laws tried to pass bills for food freedom, but they were not passed. These bills would have allowed more food types to be sold from a certified home kitchen Maine. There was another proposal in 2016, but that was not passed. In 2017, the Maine food sovereignty act was enacted. The food sovereignty definition is the right of everyone to have access to healthy food that is culturally appropriate. It goes further to mean that the food should come from methods that are sustainable, and individuals have the ability to determine their own food and systems. Food sovereignty Maine provides local governments the ability to approve just about any type of food to be sold from a home kitchen directly to customers. At first, there was only one county that took on the food sovereignty law. In 2018, the food sovereignty laws were expanded to over 40 counties to further the food sovereignty map Maine. The Maine food sovereignty act 2021 expanded to more Maine food sovereignty towns.

Before the Maine food sovereignty referendum, there was Maine food sovereignty amendment created. These amendments removed the meat and poultry processing from the food that is allowed to be sold from a home based business. In addition, the amendment excludes selling these products at public venues and farmers’ markets.

There are some requirements for commercial kitchen at home before you can begin to produce and sell your food. As a produce of food from your own home kitchen, you must have a Maine food license. After obtaining a Maine cottage food license, you need a state health inspection to ensure you meet the certified kitchen requirements. The Maine commercial kitchen requirements indicate that if you use a private sewage system, you must have additional inspections for your kitchen.

Once you have a state of Maine kitchen inspection, you can begin producing food. You should be aware that the Maine food labeling requirements do not mandate you to produce labels for the food that is sold directly to customers from your house. However, it is always a good idea to put a label on your food. Not only is it a great way to advertise for your business, but it also lets your customers know what is contained in the item. If the food contains ingredients that are a source of a major allergy, such as peanuts, you should consider listing it on the label. If you plan to sell your items outside of your home, you must provide some type of labeling on the items.

The labels should include:

  • The name of the product (common name)
  • Ingredients in the product
  • The weight of the product (net weight, volume, or count)
  • Your name and address
  • The date of production

A commercial kitchen license Maine allows you to sell food that does not require refrigeration or any other controls for safety. These foods are called shelf stable. This includes food such as baked goods, candy, pies, vegetables, cereal, dried fruit, and much more. Meat and poultry can not be sold. Other foods, like chocolate sauce and pickles, must be tested for safety.

There are many places where a cottage food producer in Maine can sell food. These locations include roadside stands, farmer’s markets, restaurants, other retailers, and of course, their own home. They can also sell their food online with delivery or pick up available. Once a cottage food producer in Maine has a Department of Agriculture food license, there are few limits to what they can sell and where. Maine provides a large amount of flexibility with its law. Food producers in Maine are not subject to any type of earnings limit.

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In Maine, any food that is considered a meal, no matter if it is served off the premises or on, is taxable. All food and drink prepared and ready to consume without the need for any more preparation is subject to sales tax. This may include bakery items, deli food, and to go foods.

Another item to consider when you want to start a cottage food business in Maine is to have your water tested as well as your sewer system. It is essential that you keep quality records, including recipes, ingredients, dates food was produced, and receipts. Keeping your kitchen clean and sanitized is crucial for food safety. In addition, you want to be careful to ensure there is no cross contamination of the food you make and the ingredients you are using.

Cottage Foods List Maine

When you are considering becoming making and producing food under the cottage laws, it is essential to know what is considered cottage food in Maine. It is also vital to the success of your business that you have the best understanding of the cottage foods in your state, Maine. If you want to have a productive business, it is helpful to have an understanding of what food is allowed.

The cottage foods list Maine includes:

Bread items include:

  • Bagels
  • Brownies
  • Cookies
  • Rolls
  • Tortillas
  • Biscuits
  • Scones
  • Sweet breads
  • Muffins
  • Scones
  • Donuts
  • Bread
  • Cake
  • Pies
  • Pastries
  • Empanadas

Candy items include:

  • Brittle
  • Chocolate
  • Cotton candy
  • Bakes Candy
  • Fudge

Condiment items include:

  • Honey
  • Salsa
  • Oil
  • Sauces
  • Ketchup
  • Vinegar
  • Nut butter
  • Jams
  • Jellies
  • Marmalade

Dry Goods items include:

  • Cereal
  • Coffee beans
  • Dried fruit
  • Pasta
  • Herbs
  • Spices
  • Dried vegetables
  • Tea leaves

Snack food items include:

  • Granola
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Crackers
  • Popcorn
  • Kettle corn
  • Caramel corn
  • Popcorn balls
  • Vegetable chips
  • Pretzels
  • Marshmallows
  • Fruit leather
  • Chocolate covered foods

When talking about the foods that you can prepare and sell under the cottage food laws, it is essential to know which food you cannot sell in Maine. Some of the common items you cannot sell under the cottage food laws are raw dough, oven ready meals, dried meat, canned meat, or low acid canned food. In general, dairy, milk, and eggs are not allowable for sale; however, they can be used as ingredients in other food. When these items are baked into foods, they are safe for sale under the cottage law.

Cottage Food Laws by State

Every state has its own set of regulations; some may be similar to Maine, while others may be vastly different. For example, Maine has no limitations on the amount of money you can earn under cottage laws. If you live in New Hampshire and want to follow New Hampshire cottage food law, you only need a license in New Hampshire if you have sales over $20,000 gross. You need a license if you plan to have sales under $20,000 but want to sell your food to restaurants or other retailers. In New Hampshire, you can sell any food that is not considered potentially hazardous. This is typically food that requires a specific temperature for it to remain safe.

Michigan commercial kitchen requirements also set a limit on how much a cottage food operator can earn. They have a limit of $25,000 annually. Commercial kitchen requirements Washington state also has an earnings limit in place. $25,000 annually is the maximum you can earn. Their list of allowable items falls in line with both Maine and New Hampshire’s lists. SC commercial kitchen requirements are much harsher, as they only allow you to earn $15,000 annually. While the certified kitchen requirements Hawaii put in place do not limit how much you can earn, they have stricter rules about what you can sell. In Hawaii, you cannot sell salsa, mustard, ketchup, and barbecue sauce. You also cannot sell canned fruits or vegetables, among many other items.

A commercial kitchen license California has an annual earnings limit of $50,000. They have a strict list of which foods are allowable and simply state, if it is not on the list, it is not allowed under the cottage law. Cottage food laws in New Jersey state that you have an earnings limitation of $50,000 in annual sales. New Jersey also requires that you take a food course about food safety. You must have 8 hours of course study. The Illinois cottage food law allows the sale of baked goods, with the exception of some pies, jams, jellies, and syrups. In addition, they allow the sale of canned foods, but there are some exceptions.

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