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Pennsylvania Cottage Food Law

Pennsylvania has different laws than other states. Instead of a comprehensive Pennsylvania cottage food law statute, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture has rules for “limited food establishments.” Although applicants fill out a lengthy application there's a lot of flexibility in how they can set up products for sale.

Cottage Food Law PA 2021

In Pennsylvania, the home food businesses have similar registration processes as larger food producers. There is a $35 registration fee to get started but some products require lab testing and other constraints that increase startup costs. Home businesses must create a business plan and adhere to certain restrictions. For example, children and pets must be kept out of areas where products are produced.

Registered home businesses have a lot of flexibility in how they run their operations. In fact, Pennsylvania is lenient about the types of cottage foods that can be sold. It’s the only state to allow the sale of meat jerky produced from private residences, for example. Additionally, home food producers can sell their products anywhere they want, including across state lines (subject to local and state laws).

Getting started in Pennsylvania

Those wishing to launch a business selling their homemade food in Pennsylvania have to check with the local authorities to make sure that they understand the code enforcement and zoning laws. After they obtain local approval, cottage food businesses have to submit their business plan to the state Department of Agriculture. 

Next, home food businesses submit samples of their products for lab testing. The facility must also pass a water test if they obtain water from private resources. It takes three to five weeks to process the application and home business owners receive a thick application packet that they must complete as part of the process.

Do You Need a License to Sell Baked Goods From Home?

Some cottage food business owners may wonder, “Do I need a license to sell cakes from home in Pennsylvania?” How about a home-based catering business in PA? It depends on the type of food you offer and local cottage food laws. Typically, in order to sell from the same location where you produce packaged goods, you only need a food registration. However, selling your food in retail locations may require a retail food license.

For example, many vendors wonder how to get a permit to sell food on the street in Philadelphia. Philly has unique rules that differ from many PA cottage food laws. You need a license from the Department of Licenses and Inspections to sell food in Philadelphia’s special vending districts. 

There are three types of special vending district licenses:

Do You Need a Permit to Sell Food From Home?

For those wondering how to get a permit to sell food from home, it’s important to first find out if you need one. Permits are needed for perishable products such as dairy and eggs. However, perishable goods used in baked goods are typically excluded since they are no longer prone to pathogens that can make customers sick.

PA Certified Kitchen Requirements

Anyone selling food from home in Pennsylvania from a home-style kitchen has to fill out the PA Limited Food Establishment Application. The process is designed to create some structure around regulations for selling baked goods from home. Be prepared to provide the number of employees, tax documentation, working hours and food product labels used as well as the ingredients and recipe for any cottage food products you sell.

It's important to understand whether you need a food license in Philadelphia or a home bakery license in Pennsylvania. For example, the requirements for selling food from home in Philadelphia are not as stringent as selling homemade foods on the street.

The home food processors application with the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture is quite detailed. Unfortunately, you may need it if you want to obtain a home bakery license in Pennsylvania or engage in selling food from home in Philadelphia.

Can I sell baked goods from my home in Pennsylvania? The short answer is yes. It's important to understand the relevant state laws that apply, such as the Pennsylvania limited food establishment regulations mentioned above.

The Food Safety Act (3 Pa.C.S.A. §§ 5721 - 5737) governs Limited Food processors under Title 21 of the Code of Federal Regulation, or CFR. PA (Code Title 7, Chapter 46). It applies the following information:

Pennsylvania Cottage Foods List

We've already discussed that nonperishable foods can be sold by cottage food business owners. The following list details some but not all of the foods permitted under Pennsylvania’s cottage food laws.

What Food Products Can You Sell From Home in Pennsylvania?

The approved PA cottage foods list includes the following items and more:

Contact the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture if you have any questions about state cottage food laws. Contact your local authorities to determine municipal laws that can impact your plans to start a cottage food business in the Commonwealth.

Cottage Food Laws by State Contact the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture

Cottage food laws vary from state to state. Therefore, it's interesting and important to understand how Pennsylvania’s food laws differ from those in California, Texas and other states with regulations regarding home food businesses. Here is a look at the cottage food laws by state.

Permit to Sell Food From Home in Massachusetts

Massachusetts requires a permit to sell homemade food. As in other states, each city and municipality can have its own rules that apply to cottage food sales. However, it’s illegal to sell hazardous foods that can spoil or require temperature control to remain safe for consumption. The permit issued to each business specifies the foods it is approved to sell. Therefore, Massachusetts has stricter rules when it comes to selling homemade foods than Pennsylvania does.

Selling Food From Home NYC

Do you need a license to sell baked goods from home in NY? Businesses that wish to prepare and sell foods from their home require a home processor exemption to avoid the stricter regulations that apply to commercial kitchens. Those who did not receive an exemption go through the same permit process as a regular foodservice establishment. This includes oversight by the local health department. The state also requires a separate kitchen for home businesses than the one used to prepare family meals.

Permit to Sell Food From Home California

Do I need a license to sell homemade food in California? Home chefs that wish to operate a home-based food business require a permit from county health officials. There are two types of permits, and the type of permit needed depends on whether you sell products through local restaurants and shops or directly to consumers.

Permit to Sell Food From Home in Florida

Cottage food operations require no permit or license according to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS). Further, they require no state inspection. However, gross sales cannot exceed $250,000. Home chefs can sell products to consumers from their residence. Cottage businesses in Florida can also sell their products at roadside stands, flea markets and farmers' markets.

Selling Food From Home In Texas

The Texas Cottage Food Law defines the type of foods that can be sold from private residences. Cottage food businesses don't need a food manufacturer's license to go through the state or local inspections if they meet the requirements. The sales for home-based food businesses cannot exceed $50,000 per year in Texas.

Understanding the laws in other states can clarify any different questions you have on relocating your home-based business to Pennsylvania or vice versa.

Takeaways for PA Cottage Food Entrepreneurs

The cottage food laws in Pennsylvania are fairly lenient and offer a lot more variety foods you can sell than many other states. From labeling laws to knowing where you can sell your product, there are many factors that can drive your success. Whether you wish to own home-based food business in PA, CA, TX, CA or FL, it's important to understand state and local rules for cottage food sales. It's important to know and follow the cottage food laws in your home state to avoid legal issues. 

Registered home-based food businesses in Pennsylvania have a lot of flexibility in how they operate. Learn about PA cottage food law, permitted foods, and more.

Heather Brookshire

The Cake Whisperer

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The Whimsical Cookie

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Wesley's Treats Hallie's Sweets

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Mill City Cooking Company

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Oso Good Clean Eats

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Kultured Kombucha

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