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Nebraska Cottage Food Law

Nebraska cottage food law 2021 is the direct result of Nebraska LB 304. Passed in 2019, LB 304 was a great victory for home-based food businesses. Prior to the update, home chefs could only sell products at farmers markets.

Under the latest guidelines, you can sell any non-perishable food at farmers markets, from home, and online. To sell food beyond farmers markets, producers must pass a food safety course, as well as online registration.

This law does not allow indirect sales (wholesale, retail stores, etc), but there is no sales limit, and it is very easy and inexpensive to start a home-based food business using the law.

LB 304 amended the Nebraska Pure Food Act administered by the Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA). The amendment allows for the sale of food that does not require time or temperature control for safety. You can sell these products directly to consumers for pick up or delivery. However, you also must comply with the following:

  1. Register with the Nebraska Department of Agriculture.
  2. Complete a food safety course from an accredited vendor.
  3. Ensure that food is labeled so that consumers know that it was prepared in an unregulated noncommercial kitchen and may contain allergens.
  4. Include your name and address on the packaging or label.
  5. Deliver food items in person or directly to the consumer. (no wholesale sales)
  6. Cottage food law in Nebraska requires producers to comply with food safety guidelines mandated at the city or county level.
  7. If you use water in your home based kitchen, it must be tested for coliform bacteria and nitrates. See the Nebraska Public Health Environmental Lab website for details.
  8. Adhere to the FDA Acidified Foods Regulations (21 CFR 114) such as salsas or pickles.

After completing the cottage food license application, it's important to understand the requirements for food permit renewal.

If you only sell your cottage food products at a farmers’ market, you don't have to register with the NDA. There are still rules governing how to sell food at a farmers’ market, as follows:

Nebraska Secretary of State business registration is required for any business operating under a fictitious name. The Nebraska Secretary of State (SOS) has helpful information in its New Business Information section. This is a great place to start planning your new home-based.

Nebraska food license requirements

Nebraska food licenses for home-based businesses are easier to get than licenses to sell food in a restaurant, grocery store or other public venue. Nebraska food handlers still have rules till there by such as taking food handlers permit classes. However, the Nebraska food permit is much easier than those in some neighboring states.

The University of Nebraska Lincoln (UNL) food handlers permit class only cost $20. The UNL food handlers permit is one of the most affordable and comprehensive you can take. Workers also have to take a food handlers class such as the ServSafe food handler course.

Nebraska Department of Agriculture Food Division

lb304 refers to nonperishable food items. However, there are regulations in place to enforce quality and sanitation standards in manufacturing plants and dairy farms. Dairy farms require onsite inspections due to the time and temperature control challenges surrounding these products.

The Nebraska Pure Food Act and Nebraska Food Code protect public health and safety concerning certain food products. When selling food from home in Nebraska, it's important to know and understand cottage food operational law. Nebraska food safety depends on it.

Douglas County cottage law

If you live in Douglas County, you might ask yourself ‘Can I sell food from home in Nebraska?’ Each community or county may have unique laws. Douglas County cottage law no longer requires a Farmers Market Retail Permit, for example.

Starting a food business in Nebraska is a little more difficult in Douglas County. However, it’s easier to start a Nebraska home-based food business than to open restaurant.

Nebraska extension classes provide Cottage Food Training for current and future entrepreneurs. Keep reading to find out what food you can sell under the Nebraska cottage food law.

Nebraska Cottage Foods List

It's important to know, understand and follow the type of food that you can sell. Cottage foods in Nebraska can exchange hands at a farmers market without requiring a permit. For cottage food business operators, this includes the following:

My Products Aren’t On the List, Now What?

Just a quick word here about products that don't yet appear on the cottage food approved list. You can still consider selling your products commercially by starting a small business and jumping through all the hoops to make it legal.

The steps to starting a regular food service business include finding a licensed commercial kitchen to rent space in. Alternatively, you can ask a co-packer to make the products and focus on sales. However, you won’t be able to produce the food in a home kitchen if it isn’t on the approved cottage food list.

Prohibited Foods

Nebraska specifies certain foods you cannot sell at a farmers market or elsewhere without a permit. Here are a few examples of banned cottage food products:

In general, many states prohibit selling raw foods or anything requiring specific temperature controls for safety purposes. That typically includes anything with eggs, milk and dairy products.

Cottage Food Laws by State

Let's take a look at how Nebraska’s cottage food laws compared to those of other states. State cottage food laws can vary in many aspects, including how much you can earn, what you can sell, what labeling and packaging considerations you must consider and many other differences.

Additionally, as we have seen, county and local rules may vary from what the state requires. Typically, local accounting rules mean additional restriction since local jurisdictions will have to follow state laws.

South Dakota cottage food law

What can home-based businesses sell under the South Dakota Cottage Food law? South Dakota permits the sale of canned goods, baked goods, fresh produce, dried fruits, dried herbs and certain dried vegetables by home-based businesses. The food listing is comparable to that of Nebraska.

Iowa cottage food law

Iowa cottage food law has a history which predates many state-level college food laws. In Iowa, entrepreneurs can sell nonperishable food products both at farmers markets and from their homes. These small businesses don't need a permit or license from the state’s Department of Inspections & Appeal.

Missouri cottage food law

Before Missouri developed its own cottage food law, specific counties have their own rules about what home based producers could offer for sale. The state level cottage food laws limits cottage food sales to jams, baked goods, dry herbs and jellies. These items can be sold at events outlined in the law and from a home-based business directly to consumers.

Colorado cottage food law

Colorado cottage food law, like that of the other states, discussed has its own set of rules. In Colorado, home based businesses can sell products that don't require refrigeration. Additionally, homemade cannot include hazards related to time. The license requirement, making it easy to start a college field business in the state.

Kansas cottage food law

Kansas still has not produced a comprehensive body of law for cottage food sales. The state allows homemade food sales. The Kansas Department of Agriculture does not require a license for food products sold at farmers markets and similar events. This presents a low entry barrier for those who wish to beginning cottage food business in Kansas.

Wyoming cottage food law

Wyoming has a wide-open policy when it comes to selling food made in your kitchen. According to the state’s Food Freedom Act, passed in 2015, food sold to the consumer directly doesn't require inspection or license. In 2017 and 2020, the state expanded the Food Freedom Act under House Bill 118.

As you can see, many states in the Midwest have generous laws when it comes to home- based foods. This presents an opportunity for entrepreneurs who would like to share their recipes with the world and make a little money while they do it. It's important to research the laws in specific states and equally important to understand what local or county regulations can impact your business. This can save you a lot of headaches and money from trying to catch up after the fact.

Learn how to legally operate a home-based food business in Nebraska, the kinds of foods you can sell in Nebraska, and how to build an online store for your homemade food.

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