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Cottage Food Law Wisconsin

When it comes to selling homemade goods in the state of Wisconsin, it’s important for producers to be aware of applicable cottage food laws. Cottage food law is meant to ensure a high level of safety and sanitation throughout the production and sale of homemade edible items. Baked goods, jams, jellies, pickled food and canned products are just a few examples of cottage food that individuals might produce in their own home. Products that qualify as cottage food are necessarily low-risk items that have a small chance of spoiling or carrying foodborne illness and disease. That being said, there are still a number of cottage food laws to abide by when producing homemade products. Before launching a small cottage food business, it is important to review how one’s state handles cottage food law. When it comes to Wisconsin laws on selling food from home, specifically, producers should respect the following rules and regulations.

Cottage food law Wisconsin is designed to protect both small-scale food producers and their consumers from potentially harmful food production practices. Wisconsin cottage food law determines which homemade products individuals can sell throughout the state, as well as the quantity. While the following information is accurate for cottage food law Wisconsin 2020, producers should constantly stay up-to-date with relevant cottage food law. Rules can change from year to year, and it is producers’ responsibility to stay informed. In 2009, the state of Wisconsin implemented what is called the Wisconsin pickle bill, which permits the production and sale of cottage food without a specific license from the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP). Wisconsin DATCP rules say that cottage food producers can sell up to $5,000 of their canned goods without a license. Some of the best venues to make these sales are farmer’s markets and community events. Until 2017, the pickle bill only applied to the production and sale of canned goods, but a lawsuit championing the sale of home goods expanded the bill’s reach.

Cottage Food Business

You might still be wondering, “What is cottage food?” A cottage food business is a small-scale operation, usually based in a home, that is designed to earn profit from homemade food goods. Despite its name, cottage food doesn’t have to be produced in a home. This categorization simply indicates that the goods have not been produced in a commercial-grade kitchen. Over the years, cottage food laws by state have adapted to residents’ demands surrounding the production of cottage food items. Cottage food business regulations differ from state to state. Cottage food laws California differ from cottage food law NY, and so on and so forth. Respecting each state’s particular cottage food laws is very important, even for the most small-scale producers. Before getting started, interested parties should learn more about expenses, such as cottage food law taxes or the Wisconsin food license cost. Expect the following expenses when launching your own cottage food business.

As stated above, the state of Wisconsin allows individuals to sell up to $5,000 worth of canned goods per year without a license. However, any canned good sales beyond that will require a license. If you aren’t sure whether or not your cottage food sales require a license, contact the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade & Consumer Protection (DATCP). On the other hand, there are virtually no regulations and laws restricting the production and sale of homemade baked goods in the state of Wisconsin. However, producers should note that only flour-based baked goods are exempt from licensed sale. The general lack of regulation on baked goods comes after the 2017 lawsuit that overturned the full ban of baked good sales in Wisconsin, a rule that was largely driven by private interest groups. While there is little legal guidance surrounding the sale of baked goods, is a key resource for anyone in Wisconsin who is hoping to start their own cottage food business. A law called the “Cookie Bill” passed through the Senate in 2017 but has yet to be reviewed by the Assembly and signed by Wisconsin’s Governor.

Wisconsin Food License Application

If you are in need of a cottage food license to sell your canned or baked goods, then you will need to complete a cottage food license application. The wisconsin food license application is necessary for producers who would like to sell more than $5,000 worth of cottage food items over the course of a year. Wisconsin food code says that making and selling any items other than canned or baked goods requires a license. For example, someone who makes candles would need to apply for an operating license. However, selling baked goods like bread, crackers, pasta, pies, or any other food product for which flour or meal is the principal ingredient is legal and does not require a cottage food license Wisconsin. The state offers a licensing exemption for bakers who operate out of their homes. Anyone working in a commercial kitchen space needs to obtain the proper retail food establishment license.

Beyond cottage food, Wisconsin food producers should remember to obtain the necessary license depending on their industry. For example, the procedure to receive a Wisconsin cheesemaker license differs from that of a DATCP meat license or even a retail food license. It’s important to remember that cottage food law varies from state to state. To receive a cottage food license MN, interested parties must submit an application to the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA), regardless of the amount of cottage food sold. To apply for cottage food license California, producers will need to obtain either a Class A or Class B permit. The correct permit is based on whether producers would like to sell directly to clients or through a 3rd party distributor. On the other hand, to receive a cottage food license Washington State, producers must apply for a permit that costs $250 (non-fundable cost). Be sure to verify that your food items are approved in Washington State before submitting your application.

How To Get Around Cottage Food Laws

If you’re wondering how to get around cottage food laws, remember that they are in place for a reason. We don't recommend trying to circumvent cottage food laws. While regulations like Wisconsin’s pickle law, the Wisconsin Cookie Bill or DATCP licensing may seem daunting, they serve numerous health, safety and economic purposes. The ATCP actually makes it easy to follow their cottage food laws once producers have all of the necessary information. FDA food code requires that homemade baked and canned goods follow certain requirements in order to guarantee consumers’ health and safety, and these rules are determined by each individual state. 

Like Wisconsin, the Minnesota pickle bill allows cottage food producers to make and sell products out of their home, given that they are registered with the MDA. It is also necessary to take food safety training to legally sell cottage food in Minnesota. Those who do not qualify for a cottage food license should consult the commercial kitchen requirements Wisconsin. If you are looking for a place to legally sell your cottage food items, check out the Wisconsin Farmers Market Association. This organization details farmers market rules, goods that can be sold, locations and much more. Wisconsin farmers market laws say that vendors must hold a license in order to sell their goods at local farmer’s markets. Regardless of where or how you are planning to sell your cottage food, be sure to respect your state’s regulations. By ignoring cottage food law, you are putting both your business and your customers’ health at risk.

Wisconsin Home Bakery License

With all of this information in mind, you are probably trying to determine which permits you need for your cottage food business. So, do you need a license to sell baked goods from home in Wisconsin? The short answer is no. There is no need for cottage food producers to apply for a Wisconsin home bakery license, assuming that their goods fall under the approved list of items. Approved baked goods include flour-based baked goods as defined in this legislative document. Baked goods like bread, crackers, pasta, pies, or any other food product for which flour or meal is the principal ingredient are legal in Wisconsin. Anything other than baked goods, like candles or home decoration items, will require a license to produce and sell.

Some people may be surprised to learn that there is currently no legislation concerning the preparation and sale of homemade baked goods in Wisconsin. Though the Pickle Bill clearly defines the conditions and limitations of canned goods sales in Wisconsin, the Cooke Bill has been in flux since 2017. Although the Cookie Bill is not yet law, it will provide more guidelines for the production and sale of baked goods in Wisconsin. When it has been reviewed by the Assembly and signed by the Governor, Wisconsin residents can expect to hear about more baked goods regulations. If you are still asking yourself, “Do I need a cottage food license?” take a look at this helpful resource for Wisconsin residents.

Happy baking, pickling and canning!

Additional Resources

Cottage Food Law Michigan | Cottage Food Law Wisconsin | Cottage Food Laws Florida | Cottage Food License | Cottage Food Sales Tax | Cottage Industry Laws | Home Food Laws | Laws About Selling Homemade Food | Laws on Selling Food From Home | License to Cook and Sell Food From Home | Microenterprise Home Kitchen Operations | Permit to Sell Food From Home | Permit to Sell Food From Home California | Rules for Selling Food From Home

Starting a cottage food business in Wisconsin? Learn about Wisconsin's cottage food laws, licensing requirements, and cottage food law legislative activity.

Heather Brookshire

The Cake Whisperer


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