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Kentucky Cottage Food Law

The Commonwealth of Kentucky had a long history of having no cottage food laws until the passage of House Bill 263. Since then, several changes have been made to the laws about processing, preparing, and selling homemade foods in the Bluegrass State.

This article reviews the most recent and accurate information about home-based food sales in Kentucky. It looks at permitting and registration rules, annual fees, income caps, which types of foods are allowed to be sold, where and how they can be sold, the rules that are specific to microprocessors, labeling requirements, and proper operational standards.

Kentucky Cottage Food Law 2022

For decades, only farmers were allowed to prepare and sell homemade foods in the Commonwealth. As such, Kentucky was one of the last states in the US to establish cottage food laws. 

Kentucky House Bill 263 was introduced by Rep. Richard Heath on January 29, 2018. It unanimously passed both the House and Senate and Governor Matt Bevin signed it into law on April 2, 2018. It took effect on July 14, 2018, allowing others besides farmers the right to prepare and sell certain foods for profit.

Kentucky house bill 263

Before the enactment of Kentucky HB 263, only farmers and gardeners were permitted to become home-based food providers. The rule was that you had to produce the main ingredient of the food you wanted to prepare and sell to the public.

For instance, if you were a tomato farmer or gardener, you could have chosen to produce tomato products like sauce and paste. You could have also elected to produce multi-ingredient tomato-based products like salsa, as long as you grew the primary ingredients.

So, you couldn’t, for instance, buy tomatoes from a farmer, and then process them and sell them as your products. YOU had to be responsible for the production of the main ingredient, tomatoes in this example.

The passage of HB 263 changed that. Now, all Kentuckians, farmers and non-farmers of legal age, are allowed to become home-based cottage food processors.

This means a lot of opportunity for food artisans, independent chefs, and cottage cooks to enter a previously restricted market. Further, working from one’s kitchen eliminates the need for paying rent or a mortgage for a commercial food preparation facility.

To be more specific, HB 263 modified Kentucky cottage food law by reclassifying home-based food processors to include people who process or produce “whole fruits and vegetables, mixed-greens, jams, jellies, sweet sorghum syrup, preserves, fruit butter, bread, fruit pies, cakes and cookies” from their homes.

If you would like to read through the entire Kentucky House Bill 263, check out this webpage from the Kentucky General Assembly.

If you would like to read the newest proposed changes to the HB 263 legislation, you can read the 18 RS HB 263/SCS 1. (It goes into great detail.)

Selling Food from Home Kentucky in 2022

If you’re wondering how to sell baked goods from home, or sell any other type of non-potentially hazardous foods from your Kentucky home, you’re not alone. More people are searching for this important information as the cottage food phenomenon continues to gain momentum across the United States and the rest of the world.

Let’s tackle some common questions about selling food from home in the Bluegrass State:

Do you need a license to sell baked goods from home in Kentucky?

Do you have to have a health department food permit to sell food from home in a Kentucky home-based food business?

The Kentucky Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act mandates “No person shall operate a food processing establishment without having obtained an annual permit to operate from the Cabinet.” 

You have to register with the Kentucky Department for Public Health’s Food Safety Branch located in Frankfort. Kentucky charges an annual $50 fee for an individual home bakery license. There are no training classes required. 

How can I get a Kentucky home-based processor application?

It’s easy and fast! Here is the official PDF application form and instructions from the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services. Remember there’s a $50 application fee.

Hint: It’s always good to have a well-developed home bakery business plan before applying for the permit.

Does my kitchen have to be approved to start producing home-based foods in Kentucky?

According to Kentucky home baker law, the Health Department may elect to do an annual kitchen inspection, but this is not a mandatory requirement.

Some rules to abide by when operating a cottage food kitchen in Kentucky are:

You can learn all the details about KY Health Department regulations and home baking bill kitchen requirements from the Cabinet for Health and Family Services.

Kentucky Microprocessor Law

Note that there are differences between Kentucky Home-Based Food Processors and Kentucky Home-Based Food Microprocessors.

As described above, home-based food processors are Kentuckians who prepare and sell certain permitted cottage foods to the public for profit. They can be farmers or non-farmers as long as they are of legal age.

Comparatively, home-based food microprocessors produce certain foods that home-based food processors are restricted from making, like low-acid canned goods, acidified foods, or low-sugar jellies, preserves, and jams.

Other foods that home-based Kentucky microprocessors can produce include:

Licensed microprocessors of cottage foods in Kentucky are required to be farmers or commercial gardeners and must be responsible for producing the main ingredient in a given food product.

Becoming a home-based food microprocessor is a more stringent process than becoming a basic home-based food processor. There are more governmental hurdles to jump, and more red tape to deal with.

For example, you will have to pay $50 to attend a workshop for microprocessors at the University of Kentucky. You will also have to submit your recipes for review and approval, and there is a $5 charge for each recipe submitted.

Microprocessor applicants must also draft labels for each food product they wish to produce, and submit verification of access to an approved water source as determined by the Kentucky Department for Public Health Food Safety Branch.

Income Limitations for Home-Based Food Processors in Kentucky

Both home-based food processors and microprocessors in Kentucky are limited to $60,000 in annual gross sales of their cottage food products. 

Remember that gross sales represent the total amount of sales you make, not the profit you clear after considering production costs, time involved, and other factors that affect your profit percentage. It’s important to consider this before deciding to launch a home-based food operation in Kentucky or any other state.

Kentucky Food Labeling Requirements

The Kentucky Food Code dictates that all cottage food processors and microprocessors must package their products with labels showing:

Finally and importantly, every label for any type of cottage food for sale in the Kentucky market must clearly display the message: “This product is home-produced and processed.”

Approved Cottage Food Sales Venues in Kentucky

Kentucky home food processors and microprocessors are subject to different restrictions as to where they can sell their cottage foods.

Home-based food processors may sell their products at authorized venues including:

Home-based processors may also sell food directly from their home kitchens. They can choose to offer delivery or to have customers pick up their orders.

Comparatively, home-based microprocessors are more limited to the venues they can sell at. They are restricted to sales only at approved roadside stands, registered farmer’s markets, and at their farms.

No home-based food processor or microprocessor is permitted to sell their products wholesale, or to groceries or restaurants.

Kentucky Cottage Foods List

What is considered cottage food in Kentucky?

As in most states, “cottage food” is food that does not require refrigeration. This is to enhance public food safety by disallowing the sales of foods that are prone to spoiling via harmful bacteria.

Some examples of foods that home chefs can make and sell in Kentucky include:

Cottage food processors in Kentucky may also sell bread, cakes, cookies, granola, popcorn, dried grains, and nuts.

Kentucky home-based food processors can also sell up to 150 gallons of bee honey per year, and as many as sixty dozen eggs weekly.

You can also make and sell homemade pet food in Kentucky as long as you register, pay an annual fee, and adhere to specific labeling requirements.

Cottage Food Laws by State

Selling cottage food in Kentucky is not the same as selling homemade food in Tennessee, where you would have to obtain a Tennessee food permit and follow Tennessee commercial kitchen regulations. Like all states, Tennessee cottage food laws are different from those of Kentucky.

Likewise, getting a home bakery license in NC or a home bakery license Illinois requires undergoing a different process than registering as a home-based food processor in Kentucky.

If you have further questions about becoming a home-based food processor or microprocessor in Kentucky, please refer them to the Food Safety Branch of the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services. The telephone there is (502) 564-7181 and the address is 275 E. Main St. HS1CF, Frankfort, KY 40621.

Learn how to legally operate a cottage food business in Kentucky, what is required of home-based food businesses in KY, and how to launch a store for your homemade food business.

Heather Brookshire

The Cake Whisperer


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