Understand Delaware Cottage Food Laws

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Delaware Cottage Food Law

Do you have a wonderful recipe that you want to share with the world? If so, you might consider starting a business that includes baking treats, canning jams, or otherwise making food to sell at craft fairs, events, or online.

That said, Delaware residents need to be familiar with the process of being a cottage baker. What does this mean?

A cottage food establishment is essentially anyone who isn’t using a commercial kitchen to create edible items to sell to the public. Since most people aren’t familiar with Delaware cottage food law requirements, we’ve put together this guide to help you out.

Within this post, we’ll answer plenty of questions including:

To really give you the information necessary to legally and safely open a home-based food business, let’s start from the very beginning.

In Delaware, the Cottage Food Establishment (CFE) Program regulates independent food procedures with a series of rules designed to protect the health and safety of the public.

Generally, restaurants and those who are considered food establishments are exempt from needing a cottage permit. As are bake sales and private events, which means baking cookies from home for your children’s school fundraiser or baking a wedding cake for your sister doesn’t make you a cottage baker.

But if you decide to start selling cookies from home via a website? Well, that would mean you’re considered a cottage baker under the Delaware food code.

In order to remain compliant, individuals must register for a cottage food permit. The cost of the permit is $30 and is good from April 1st each year to March 31st the following year, no matter when within that time frame the permit was purchased.

Permit holders can only make the items listed on their permit, meaning they’ll need to pay for and apply for a new permit if they expand their menu.

Additionally, the state regulates who permit holders can sell foods to. Online sales and advertising are banned, while the permit only covers items sold to Delaware residents. Wholesale transactions are also not allowed.

The application process includes several steps, such as providing proof of a food handling safety class or training and the overall layout of where the food is prepared. This floor plan must show areas for dry storage, refrigerator, access to restrooms, and other key specifics.

There are also extremely sensitive guidelines on the kitchen area in which you are preparing the food. The list is lengthy, so it is worth checking with the state’s website directly for details. But examples include no pets within the home where the food is prepared, specific lighting, and pest control measures.

Before you can obtain a license, the health department will do an inspection of your home kitchen. This is deemed as a way to help keep individuals from spreading food-borne illnesses and to ensure cleanliness of the preparation area.

Allowing home bakers to create in their own kitchens is actually a relatively new concept for Delaware residents. Previously, only farmers had the option of doing this, which severely limited opportunities for at-home chefs.

In September 2016, laws changed to allow this practice. However, guidelines specifically state that the income limit is capped at $25,000 per year and sales must be in person.

Additionally, individuals can only make foods in their own approved kitchen. This means that baking at a relative or friend’s home that isn’t on your license is prohibited. And other cooking activities cannot happen at the same time as your food preparation, such as making a meal for your family while a batch of approved cookies is baking in the oven. This is done to prevent possible cross-contamination.

Delaware also requires home-based kitchens to write out a contingency plan in the event of a food recall. This is to ensure that, if there is a public health crisis, you have a way to recall and refund customers for those items. For example, the eggs you used in a batch of cupcakes is recalled due to a listeria outbreak, etc.

All cottage food labels must contain a series of information including the name of the company, address, contact information, complete ingredients used, and the date it was produced. In addition, a specific statement outlining that the product was created in a home kitchen should also be included.

While the process of cottage food laws is fairly new in Delaware, it continues to evolve. For the most up-to-date information, local residents should check with their regional division.

Delaware Cottage Foods List

When it comes to cottage food in Delaware, there is a specific list of foods that are permitted to be sold within the state. These include:

Is there an item that you do not see on this list? Contact your local food safety department to find out more. Often, they’ll specifically allow an item to a permit holder based on other considerations.

However, perishable foods are distinctly prohibited. Essentially, this includes any products that have meat, cheese, or certain types of dairy as an ingredient.

The good news is that the list is always consistently evolving, which means checking with your local representatives is always a good way to know if your plans to make a specific item in your home kitchen and sell it are covered by your permit.

And, remember, the State of Delaware requires you to include your products on your application. Adding new ones later on requires a new cottage foods permit.

Cottage Food Laws by State

So, how are Delaware’s cottage food laws compared to other states? Here’s a brief breakdown of what to expect compared to where you previously lived or where you plan on moving to in the future.

Discover what kinds of cottage foods can be sold in Delaware, requirements and permits needed for cottage food in Delaware, and more.

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The Cake Whisperer


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