Explore Hawaii Cottage Food Law

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Hawaii Cottage Food Law

If you’re looking to start a home food business, then you’ll want to pay close attention to this guide. In contrast to other states, Hawaii cottage food law is actually somewhat of a new thing. In fact, the state was one of the very last to pass cottage food laws governing how individuals can make and sell edible products without having to use a commercial kitchen.

In this post, we’ll cover everything from what Hawaii homemade food laws dictate and which department of health rules and regulations are most important to pay attention to.

So, are you allowed to sell food from home? Starting a food business in Hawaii is possible, but there are numerous rules for home cooks.

Selling homemade food in Hawaii requires anyone interested in making edibles to sell to first take a food safety workshop. The class is free and available on each island. Then, you must pay for and pass an ANSI accredited food handler class online. The cost to do so is around $15 and takes only a couple hours. The course generally covers basic food safety guidelines, which is actually quite helpful for anyone looking to start a food business or work in the culinary field in general.

Unlike other states, The State of Hawaii Department of Health Food Safety Program does not require a permit to sell low-risk, non-perishable foods. There is also no cap on how much income you can make from selling homemade foods.

The good news is that the list of available foods for sale in Hawaii is actually fairly extensive. Most basic baked goods that do not require refrigeration are included, as are items like fruit leathers, herbs, vegetables, mixes, preserves, and even dried noodles. Pre-packaged snacks are also allowed, as long as they do not contain meat or cheese and require refrigeration. The rules for selling produce in Hawaii are a little more restrictive and not covered under basic cottage food laws, but part of the state’s bigger agricultural laws.

Additionally, Hawaii Department of Health regulations require that your kitchen include a sink with access to hand washing and soap during food preparation. An inspection of your kitchen is not required, but the department could do an inspection at-will during any time they choose. Generally, this is just limited to those cottage food kitchens that have received a complaint and is less common than many people think.

Hawaii Cottage Food Law 2021 allows for in-person sales only. This means you can offer your baked goods or food products at farmer’s markets, from your own home, at events, and from roadside stands. The state also allows for delivery and home pickup. However, it is important to note that online sales are prohibited. Catering, wholesale, and mail-order purchases are also not allowed. Finally, you cannot sell your products in other states.

Hawaii food safety regulations require that commercial kitchen use is prohibited. This means that, if you’re planning on running your business based on basic cottage law guidelines, then you’ll need to use your home kitchen only. While this does sound a bit counterintuitive, there are other commercial kitchen guidelines you can follow if you’re planning on scaling up to a bigger food preparation location.

Interesting to note, the Hawaii cottage food laws also dictate that your home kitchen must be your primary residence. This means that you cannot make foods from a second home or vacation home and still be classified under their homemade products laws.

Labeling of your homemade baked goods and other items is fairly straightforward in Hawaii. Each tag must include the name of the product, the physical location of where it was made (no post office boxes), and your business name. A product statement that includes information about the product being made in a home kitchen is also required.

The current Hawaii cottage food laws have only been around since 2017. Prior to that time, several bills were presented within the state legislature and failed. At the time, home cooks would have to apply for a short-term permit for specific items and sales at approved events. The new laws replaced these requirements, leaving the process much more open to those who want to start any type of food business from home.

Is this a good thing? According to those who live in Hawaii and operate an at-home food business, yes. Having to get a permit each time for an event was expensive and cumbersome, but the new laws offer far more expansion and flexibility. But most do not like the fact that only in-person sales are allowed.

So, does this mean that you cannot start a home bakery website in Hawaii? The answer is no. Those who wish to do online sales should look into the requirements for food businesses with commercial kitchens and other similar requirements. While these permits are far more restrictive and take a lot of initial investment, they’re a good idea to follow if you’re looking to build a company that ships non-perishable food products to the continental United States or anywhere abroad.

While opening a home-based food business in Hawaii definitely isn’t easy, new laws and guidelines are making the process much easier than before. Without the need to get a permit on a temporary basis, food entrepreneurs are much more free to get started without delay. For questions about specific requirements, it is a good idea to contact the Department of Health on your island for further details.

Hawaii Cottage Foods List

Are you looking for an extensive Hawaii cottage foods list? While the guidelines for the state seem fairly specific on the types of foods permitted for sale by home-based cooks, it is important to know that guidelines are updated rather frequently.

Wondering if your famous family recipe is part of the list of included foods for home-based cooks? The items specifically outlined in all cottage food list include:

The list of prohibited items in Hawaii include salsas, pickles, fermented foods, meat jerkies, juices, and perishable baked goods. Items containing meats and cheese or those that need constant refrigeration are not allowed.

This collection of items is fairly standard for most regions when it comes to what you can and cannot sell under cottage food laws. What’s unique about Hawaii, however, is that home pickup and delivery of these items is allowed—but online sales are not.

If there is a question about a specific item that you’re wanting to make in your home kitchen and sell, it is a good idea to go ahead and contact your local health department for further guidance. Additionally, we previously mentioned that these lists change frequently, so it makes sense to check at least annually to ensure that you’re still in compliance.

Cottage Food Laws by State

In contrast to Hawaii’s cottage food laws, there are different requirements in other states. Here’s what you need to know about several different jurisdictions.

Cottage Food Law California: California has a two-class cottage food system that allows for applicants to graduate to a wider range of products and more selling locations. It is considered one of the better states in the country for home cooks.

Cottage Food Law Oregon: The only training required is a basic food handler’s certification, but there is no license or kitchen inspection required. Sellers can only produce up to $20,000 in product each year.

Cottage Food Law Washington State: This area is considered one of the most restrictive for home cooks. The guidelines require almost as many steps as a commercial kitchen to obtain a permit, yet cottage cooks are only allowed $20,000 in sales a year.

Home Bakery Laws in Iowa: As one of the first states to allow cottage kitchens, the guidelines have remained mostly untouched since the 1980s. Home cooks and bakers are allowed to sell at events, farmer’s markets, and other places without a permit and very few restrictions.

Cottage Food Guidelines in Delaware: Cottage food laws dictate a limit of $25,000 per year on sales. In addition, a special yearly permit and a home inspection are required.

Cottage Food Sales in Colorado: The maximum limit for cottage food sales in Colorado is based on a $10,000 per item or flavor basis, giving home cooks the ability to earn more money over time.

Texas Cottage Food Laws: The cottage bakery laws in Texas are fairly lenient. Home cooks are allowed a more generous list of acceptable foods, including some frozen and perishable items. Selling across the state and shipping are also permitted.

Learn how Hawaii's cottage food law works, what types of foods can be sold from home, where you can sell cottage food in Hawaii, and more about opening a cottage food business.

Heather Brookshire

The Cake Whisperer


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