South Carolina Cottage Food Law

Getting started in South Carolina as a cottage food producer involves a little more effort. You must obtain a state business license, file taxes each month, and the use of a commercial kitchen is prohibited. There are more limitations on the types of food you can make and sell, and there are some limitations on where you can sell your homemade food. Ready to take your food business online? We’ll help you build an online store in minutes.
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Where can you sell?

In South Carolina, you can sell cottage food online, at fairs, festivals, farmers markets, at grocery stores, and roadside stands. You can also ship cottage food.

What kinds of food can you sell?

South Carolina allows cottage food operators to sell any nonperishable foods.

What should be on my product labels?

Labels must include allergens, business address, business name, ingredients, net amount, product name, and a note that your product was made in an uninspected kitchen.

Is there an income cap?

There is no limit to how much a home-based vendor can sell in South Carolina. You must file taxes each month, even without any sales.

Are there any special requirements?

The use of a commercial kitchen is prohibited and pets must not be present while making your product. You must obtain a state business license.

Where can I find more information?

Contact the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control at 803-896-0640. Learn more about South Carolina'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.

South Carolina Cottage Food Law

If you're wondering how to start a small business in South Carolina, you should first familiarize yourself with the South Carolina cottage food law. This law is made to help home cooks and artisans sell foods that they produced directly at home to consumers. South Carolina doesn't have a cap on the annual amount of sales you can make, meaning this can help make your cottage food business thrive, so long as you follow any DHEC requirements! There was a cap before, however since 2018 it has been abolished.

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environment Control, or DHEC, has various rules in regards to selling food from home. First, if you're wondering do you need a license to sell food from home, the answer is no, home cooks don't need to apply for a cottage food license to be eligible to sell their products from home.

Home cooks must still apply for a regular SC business license application for tax purposes and to run their business. For those asking themselves do I need a business license in SC, it's important to know there is no statewide SC business licensed llc, and instead licenses are issued by local governments, towns, cities, and counties.

The cottage food law only applies to a SC home-based business. Unfortunately, once your business falls under a retail food establishment license, you can no longer sell food based on cottage food laws. This also applies if you have your own food or farmers stand that is considered a retail establishment. Cottage food must be sold separately from here. Other places cottage food can be sold from include:

  • Online
  • Indirectly, like at a grocery store
  • From a DHEC approved kitchen directly from home
  • Events
  • Roadside stands
  • Farmers markets
  • Through delivery, mail order, or home pickup

The cottage law South Carolina has states that food cannot be sold wholesale, or to retail stores or restaurants. Food can also not be sold online!

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The good thing about South Carolina is that since there is no DHEC food permit required for cottage food, there is no associated cottage food license cost. Usually, businesses would have to fill out a DHEC food permit application and pay a fee of no less than $200. For a food permit South Carolina, it would take anywhere between days and months. For those wondering how long does it take to get a cottage food license, there is no timeline since there is no permit required for home kitchens in South Carolina.

Residents of South Carolina must still follow DHEC kitchen requirements for home kitchens, which are different than SC commercial kitchen requirements. In South Carolina, a home kitchen must be kept free of pets and people while food is being prepared, packaged, and handled. In addition, cottage law South Carolina states that a kitchen can be subject to inspection. South Carolina Food Code § 44-1-143 (2013) states kitchens must have:

  • Department-approved water supply
  • Separate storage place for ingredients used in foods intended for sale
  • A functioning refrigerator unit
  • Adequate sanitation facilities, including sinks, hot water, and a places to sterilize and sanitize equipment
  • Adequate facilities for the storage of utensils and equipment
  • Adequate hand washing facilities SEPARATE from the utensil and equipment cleaning facilities
  • Working toilets
  • No rodents or insect activities
  • Department-approved sewage disposal, either onsite treatment or publicly provided

However, you can get an exemption from having to undergo inspections if your business annual sales are under $15,000. All exemption forms have to be provided by the Department of Agriculture in South Carolina.

Once you have a functional kitchen and potent water source, you must also comply with SC DHEC rules and regulations in regards to cottage foods. Cottage foods have very specific acidity requirements, with high-acidic fruits such as strawberries, cranberries, and cherries generally okay for consumption. In addition, non-hazardous foods like breads, rolls, biscuits, bakery goods without fillings can be approved for sale.

However, most other foods will need to be inspected if you don't know whether or not they are non-hazardous. Non-hazardous foods are non-perishable and don't require temperature or time controls to keep the food safe. SC home bakery regulations state that there will need to be product-testing to determine if certain baked goods, such as pies filled with high-acidic foods, are truly non-hazardous. Their non-hazardous status will be determined by their water content and pH levels. Foods that have a pH value greater than 4.6 are considered potentially hazardous.

In addition, foods must not contain meats, dairy, egg products, cut vegetables, leafy greens and certain oils. There is a long list of non-approved foods, so it's best to know for certain that your food is covered under cottage food license South Carolina laws.

Once it's been determined the food you're producing is able to be sold to consumers, it must be properly labeled with the name and address of the home-based food operation, the name of the product (baked cookies, granola, and so on), the net weight and a list of ingredients. It's recommended, but not required, to list allergens such as soy, wheat, and nuts on your labels as well.

What is Cottage Food in South Carolina?

In 2022, South Carolina made their cottage food laws easier to work with. In South Carolina, the sale of all nonperishable foods, instead of just candy and baked goods, is now permitted. This means you can sell things like:

Baked goods:

  • Loaf breads (although not quick loaf breads like zucchini, pumpkin and banana bread, and not focaccia)
  • Rolls
  • Biscuits
  • Baked cookies, such as oatmeal, chocolate chip, raisin, so long as its baked
  • Baked granola
  • Baked cakes

Candies and confectioneries with sugar as the main ingredient and with low water content, which means they don't have to be put in the fridge to remain safe. These include:

  • Chocolate-covered highly-acidic uncooked fruits like strawberries, cranberries, and cherries
  • Candy-coated dried fruits and popcorn
  • Candied apples
  • Candied popcorn
  • Popcorn balls

And other food products, like: 

  • Condiments
  • Dry goods, like cereals, coffee, pasta, and herbs
  • Carbonated drinks and fermented drinks like kombucha
  • Pastries like empanadas and churros
  • Preserves, jams, jellies
  • Snacks like candied apples, nuts, caramel corn, crackers, marshmallows, uncut (whole) chocolate-dipped fruit

Pies baked with high-acidic fruits, such as apples, apricots, grape, peach, blackberry, raspberry, and boysenberry, will be considered potentially hazardous and can only be sold once they pass a safety inspection that determines their pH level and water content.

Foods absolutely not covered and considered cottage foods in South Carolina include those with meat, dairy, jerky, low-acid canned fruits and salsa, fish and shellfish, and cut fruits and vegetables just to name a few.

It's best to check with your local health department to see if the food you want to sell is considered non-hazardous, or to set up a time to get your food tested for acidity and water levels.

Cottage Food Laws By State

Cottage food laws by state vary greatly, and some states will be more liberal or even more strict than cottage food laws in South Carolina. Below are just a few cottage food laws by state.

Cottage Food Law Michigan

Michigan has some standard cottage food laws, only allowing non-hazardous foods that don't need temperature or time control to remain safe. Cottage food sales in Michigan also can't exceed $25,000, which means this business is better suited on a smaller scale.

Cottage Food Laws Illinois

New changes were made in 2021 and will not go into effect until January 2022. Illinois Cottage Food Laws are currently somewhat restrictive. Only bakers can sell non-hazardous baked goods from their homes. All other artisans must sell their goods from farmers markets. In addition, there is a monthly sales cap of $1,000 and licenses can only be given according to local counties.

Georgia Cottage Food Laws

Those interested in obtaining a Georgia cottage food license must first pass a food safety course from the American National Standards Institute before they can begin to sell cottage food. Other Georgia laws on selling food from home include not being able to sell wholesale, to restaurants or other retailers. In addition, Georgia cottage food must be non-hazardous like many other states. The Georgia cottage food list includes loaf breads, rolls, biscuits, fruit pies (that don't have to undergo inspections unlike in South Carolina), dried fruits, herbs, and cereals just to name a few. A Georgia cottage food law application will ask for verifiable information, including citizenship status on the application.

Cottage Food Law NY

In New York, people can sell non-potentially hazardous food provided it is properly labeled and doesn't have a chance of growing harmful bacteria. Unlike other states, they exclude raw nuts and freeze-dried foods. Also, unlike South Carolina, they allow repackaged herbs and spices to be sold.

Florida Cottage Food Law 2021

Florida cottage food laws are standard to good. In addition to selling only non-hazardous foods, sellers must also not sell wholesale. They can, however, sell through mail order and online, unlike South Carolina. The product must still be hand-delivered.

Cottage Food Law California

Before you apply for a cottage food license California, you must know that there are two classes of food license in this state. The class B cottage food permit allows businesses to sell directly to the consumer, while a class A allows them to sell indirectly through other businesses.

Cottage Food Laws MN

In order to obtain a cottage food license MN, you must first register with the Minnesota Department of Agriculture and take an approved food-safety course every three years for sales between $5,000 and $78,000. The MN cottage food list now contained pet treats, non-hazardous foods like breads, jams, jellies, and fruits with a pH less than 4.6.

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