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Ohio Cottage Food Law

If you’re interested in selling food from home Ohio is a state that doesn't make it hard. Ohio food laws don’t require an Ohio cottage food license to sell foods that are not potentially hazardous.

It’s important to understand the distinction between generic Ohio cottage laws and the more restrictive Ohio home bakery laws. Ohio cottage food law 2021 includes the Pure Food and Drug Law, which was updated in 2009 and again in 2016. While it doesn’t authorize home inspection for most cottage food or require a license to sell food from home Ohio does permit inspection of cottage food. Inspectors from the Ohio Department of Agriculture may sample products to ensure that they’re properly labeled.

Thus there are Ohio food license exemptions for home-based cottage food business owners. Also, there’s no cap on annual gross income. This exemption in Ohio regulations for selling food is only for people who produce food items at home that are not potentially hazardous. That means that the products don’t require refrigeration or any other special storage to be safe for consumption.

Examples of items permitted under Ohio laws for selling food at home include some bakery products, jams, jellies, candies and fruit butter. Under its cottage laws Ohio insists that all such products be properly labeled. Foods that aren’t will be considered misbranded or adulterated.

Ohio cottage food laws 2021 are specific about requiring that these foods are produced at home, and the law is precise about defining what home is. The home has to be a bona fide residence. There can be only one stove or oven used for cooking, and that appliance must be designed for residential and not for commercial use.

Ohio cottage food law specifies that foods from unlicensed producers may be sold only in the state of Ohio. Within Ohio, however, there is not much restriction on how foods are sold. They may be sold directly to consumers either in-person or online. Under Ohio cottage food law shipping is permitted only within the state. No interstate sales are allowed. As a general rule, there aren’t any sales taxes or Ohio cottage food taxes for food meant to be consumed other than where they’re purchased.

Sales may be made at farmers’ markets and community events. Foodstuffs may be sold wholesale to grocery stores and restaurants. In Ohio restaurants are allowed to use homemade ingredients. Products may be vended at festivals and similar celebrations, but only if the event is organized by a political subdivision of the state of Ohio and doesn’t last longer than seven consecutive days.

The Ohio cottage food label template specifies how products must be described. Cottage foods Oho must be labeled with the name of the product and the name and address of the producer’s business. The ingredients need to be listed in order by weight with the most prevalent ranked first. The overall net weight must be included. In addition, the words, “This product is home produced,” must appear in a font that’s 10-point or larger. If the producer is making any nutritional claims about the food, the label must include a nutritional facts panel.

Ohioans who want to sell a wider variety of baked goods have another option.  The Ohio Home Bakery Law allows the sale of more products including perishable baked goods and certain non-baked products. This allows items such as cream pies and filled baked foodstuffs. However, there is additional regulation imposed for this expanded assortment of food a producer may sell.

For example, there’s a home bakery license Ohio requires for all bakery producers. The requirements are less stringent than for the commercial bakery license Ohio requires for true commercial operations. As part of the home bakery food license application Ohio requires a kitchen inspection. Home bakers under the Home Bakery Law are prohibited from using commercial equipment. Under Ohio cottage food law pets may not be kept indoors in a home where there’s a home bakery.

As with cottage food, Ohio allows home bakery products to be sold in a variety of venues, including directly out of the home where they’re produced. They may also be sold through convenience stores, grocery stores and other retail outlets. They can be vended at farm markets, farmers’ markets and similar community events. They can be on the menu at restaurants and cafes.

When you become a home baker, there’s another market open to you that’s closed to non-licensed Ohio cottage food vendors. The products may be sold outside of the state of Ohio.

In some Ohio communities, there may be additional licensing requirements. Vendors must obtain any licenses required by localities to sell their products at open markets. Anyone who sells or resells these products must conform to all the regulations and rules of local health departments, local zoning authorities and other local agencies.

The cottage food template Ohio enforces also applies to home bakeries. You still need the product name, the business name and address and all the accurate information about the contents of the product. In addition, any food that requires refrigeration must be labeled, “Keep Refrigerated.”

In summary, Ohio recognizes two types of home food producers and has different privileges and different requirements for the two. You don’t need to worry about how to get a cottage food license in Ohio, because the state doesn't enforce licensing for home producers of non-hazardous food. However, if it’s your ambition to be a home baker, you’ll need both a license and an inspection, but there’s greater leeway in the types of foods you can market and where you can sell them.

Cottage Foods List Ohio

What is considered cottage food? The following products are on the list of cottage foods that may be produced and sold within Ohio without a license:

However, unlicensed cottage vendors may not sell acidified foods such as beans, cucumbers, sauerkraut and pudding. They are not permitted to sell any food that requires temperature control for storage. This includes animal products, cooked vegetables, cheesecakes and custard or cream pies. They may not sell freeze-dried foods.

A vendor with a home bakery license also may sell non-hazardous bakery products including cookies, breads, cakes, fruit pies and brownies. In addition, they may sell potentially hazardous bakery products, that is, products that require refrigeration. This expands their list of permitted foods to include cheesecake, cream pies, pumpkin pies and custard pies.

Do I Need a License to Sell Produce in Ohio?

As long as the produce is limited to whole, intact fruits and vegetables, there’s no regulations regarding their sale. They may be sold at farmer’s markets and roadside stands as well as to restaurants and grocery stores. One item that’s forbidden, though, is harvested wild mushrooms. They may not be sold in the state.

Cottage Food Laws by State

Most of Ohio’s neighboring states have cottage food laws that are similar. There’s been widespread recognition since the turn of the century that cottage food producers are small business people worth supporting and that they need clarity on what they can and can’t do.

Michigan cottage food law, adopted in 2010, allows unlicensed sale of a list of foods similar to Ohio’s list. A license is required to sell foods that require refrigeration or preserved foods other than jams and jellies. No home inspection is required for non-hazardous cottage foods.

Indiana cottage food law applies to a list similar to Ohio’s but also includes whole, unprocessed fruits and vegetables and tree nuts. Indiana is more restrictive on where cottage foods may be sold. Sales are allowed only at roadside stands and farmers’ markets. Sales from home, online sales and sales to grocery stores and restaurants are all prohibited.

Kentucky cottage food law recognizes two classes of food producers. Home-based processors are similar to Ohio cottage food vendors; they produce non-hazardous foods in their own home kitchens. Home-based microprocessors are farmers who grow food and have more leeway in how they can process and sell it. Home-based processors must register with the state and pay a $50 annual fee. They may sell at home or from markets but are not permitted to ship food or sell it to grocery stores and restaurants.

West Virginia cottage food law permits a more extensive list of food than Ohio. In addition to the non-hazardous list, West Virginians may also sell pickles, vinegars, condiments, nut butters, some sauces, juices and carbonated beverages. The state also issues a farmer’s market vendor permit which allows the sale of meats, fish and other more hazardous foods.

There is no explicit Pennsylvania cottage food law. Instead, the Department of Agriculture authorizes limited food establishments. They have to register, pay a $35 fee, submit a business plan and undergo a home inspection. In addition to the foods on Ohio’s cottage list, they may sell canned acidic foods, pickled foods and fermented foods. There’s an even broader list if the home has a separate, dedicated kitchen with its own entrance.

Ohio cottage food laws don’t require an Ohio cottage food license to sell foods that are not potentially hazardous. Learn how to set up your home-based food business in Ohio.

Heather Brookshire

The Cake Whisperer


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