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Rhode Island Cottage Food Law

Much to the chagrin of Rhode Island residents who dream of starting their own small cottage food operations out of their homes, Rhode Island cottage food law places more restriction on who can do this rather than how to go about it. Current cottage bakery laws in the state of RI allow only those who already produce and sell $2,500 or more agricultural products annually to have a home-based food business in Rhode Island. Farmers already established to this degree may sell items made in their homes that don’t need temperature-controlled storage, like certain baked goods, canned goods such as jams, and some non-perishable items like chocolate and candy. Location matters too as farmers must stick to farm-related venues for selling.

So, if a farmer or smaller-scale agricultural producer wanted to start by finding out how to sell food from home legally, those fitting that description will find it fairly easy to start a cottage bakery. In asking one of the first questions--do I need a license to sell food from my home?—current laws don’t require a cottage permit or cottage bakery license. Perhaps by limiting the people eligible to start this kind of business to only existing farmers who already sell $2,500 worth of agricultural products the Office of Food Protection RI hoped to streamline the process of food safety and inspection of new cottage baker businesses. Another goal might have been to spur those who went this route to keep growing their cottage food business into a larger-scale operation, selling food made in a commercial kitchen which would require a food business license RI.

If the description of small- or large-scale farmer making a profit of at least $2,500 from their own products fits you, it would still be a good idea to contact any state of RI license and permit authorities to be sure you are legally covered at all ends of your business plan. Non-farmers may be currently ineligible to apply for permits and start cottage food bakeries, but as a farmer, do you need a license to sell baked goods from home? The current answer is no, but watch for laws to change and keep up with the contemporary standards. Even though a food handling course may not be mandatory, completing one anyway will likely teach you a lot and let customers know you prioritize their health and safety. Course completion can be displayed on your labels and any advertisements you may put out. If you love the idea of adding a small cottage bakery business to your yearly agricultural income, you’ll probably be well-served by the training these food safety courses offer, especially if you are accustomed to more traditional, outdoor farm work. Going over basic knowledge of maintaining a sanitary work space as well as helpful hints will probably keep you inspired and in-the-know within the small vendor community.

Another basic query to look into: what is cottage food? Having a talent for creating baked and generally non-perishable food items is key in knowing how to make money selling food from home. Market your homemade bakery items such as fruit pies, rolls, pastries, biscuits, and bread that do not require refrigeration. You can sell room-temperature sweets like candy, fudge, and homemade chocolate, and many people love to buy local when it comes to accoutrements like jams, jellies, herbs and spices, and syrups.

Rhode Island cottage food labeling

Rhode Island cottage food law necessitates labels for the cottage food products you sell. These actually help you as the seller by providing an easy way to track the date they were produced; this is something you should keep track of in case of any problems like spoilage. Labels also offer a great space for self-promotion, giving customers a hint of your personal style. According to state regulations, minimum information on the label must include the baker’s name, address, and telephone number, and a complete list of ingredients used in creating the item. Labels on cottage food typically contain other useful information like the name of the item, its net weight, special attention directed toward ingredients considered potential allergens, and a statement advising buyers that the food was created in a personal kitchen and not in a commercial kitchen inspected and awarded with a department of health food permit.

Where can cottage foods be sold?

And even if you don’t need a permit to bake and sell from home, what permits do you need to sell food at a farmers market? In keeping with the Office of Food Protection RI’s efforts to make this a farmers-only industry, cottage food bakers may only sell their wares at farm-geared locations and events. Besides your home, you can market your products from other venues like farmers markets (naturally), retail stores, and events, provided that all are run by actual farmers who are selling Rhode Island-grown agricultural products to the public. Roadside stands offer another way to get your goods into local customers’ hands, but these only qualify as legal cottage food venues if the stand is located on a farm. If you want to run your business from a food truck or food cart, this does not fall under the cottage food category and requires a food license RI. This applies to food sold from all portable structures to include vehicles that are motorized, pulled, pushed, or pedaled, and even to watercraft; sell food from any of these and you will need a food business license.

Rhode Island Cottage Food List

Being that Rhode Island cottage food bakers do not have to go through the rigors of earning their food permit or license, regulations for the industry keep the food list to low-maintenance goods that do not require temperature-controlled storage. Cottage food entrepreneurs may sell baked goods at farmers market that do not need refrigeration:

As you can well imagine, these items alone make for a sumptuous farmers market baked goods display. Selling cupcakes at a farmers market invites people to carry a delicious and convenient celebratory treat in their hand as they browse through the bounty of local farms.

Dry goods like homemade spices, seasonings, herbs, and even popcorn and granola are allowed.

You’ll want to check with the Office of Food Protection RI for any updates on how to sell canned goods, but by present-day Rhode Island cottage food laws you will just need to follow proper canning procedure to ensure that no bacteria is introduced into the container during preparation. Once you have a safe recipe, market your own homemade jams, jellies, and preserves. Non-perishable sweets on the list include chocolate, candy, and fudge. In fact, the fruit you use in your products does not necessarily have to be grown by you personally, as long as it came from a local RI farm.

Cottage Food Laws By State

Rhode Island may restrict cottage food business owners to only existing farmers who market their products, but many other states have processes in place to guide non-farming bakers hoping to sell food from home on how to make it happen. Would-be business owners will have to dive in and research the particular laws governing their home state. Do I need a license to sell food from my home in Florida? Selling food from home in Florida is allowed without a permit as long as it is from the non-perishable list, and unlike Rhode Island, no pre-requisite farming status is in place.

Do I need a license to sell homemade food in California? Well, selling food from home California regulations are divided based on where you’d like to market your goods. For selling baked goods at farmers’ markets in California you can obtain a Class A cottage food permit California, which allows you to sell at events and festivals where you do the selling in person. You’ll just need to go through self-certification courses, but you should also check with state food safety officials on how to apply for a cottage license in California depending on your personal business goals. A Class B cottage food permit gives you freedom to market through other retail outlets where others can do the selling for you. Class B permits require that your kitchen pass an inspection. A recent amendment in 2020 stated that home chefs interested in obtaining a cottage food license Riverside County through certified courses could go beyond the non-perishable items of the cottage food industry and essentially open their own in-home restaurants and cafes. This development came about as a community-supported desire to help residents earn income after the pandemic shut down many local businesses.

What about selling cottage food Massachusetts? Massachusetts cottage food laws read somewhat similarly to California’s in that there are two tiers of cottage food license Massachusetts procedures, one which is limited to in-person sales at farmers markets and festivals and operates under Massachusetts farm stand regulations, and the other which allows for more retail freedom like being marketed by other parties. You will need to take a certification course in accordance with Massachusetts food service laws and obtain a permit depending on how you want to go about selling food from home Massachusetts. As usual, stick to the non-temperature-controlled food list and be sure your labels contain the minimal information required by MA residential kitchen regulations. Contact state offices for complete and up-to-date information.

Rhode Island's unique cottage food laws present a challenge for home-based food entrepreneurs in the state. Learn more about Rhode Island cottage food law.

Heather Brookshire

The Cake Whisperer


My business would not be the same without my Castiron website! It is an easy setup with lots of customization and tons of support! I am so glad I set up my shop last year before the holidays — it really helped increase my sales!

Amanda McMonigle

The Whimsical Cookie


Castiron provides me a professional site to my customers increasing my credibility and value while giving me the tools to effectively market and manage my business in an easy, user-friendly manner.

Kim Sims

Wesley's Treats Hallie's Sweets


Castiron has made my cottage bakery shine, and my business easy to manage. As a platform they care about my business as much as I do.

Katie Maschoff

Mill City Cooking Company


Before Castiron, I was taking orders really manually, through emails or texts or Facebook. Now I can send customers straight to my website, and I don’t have to worry about missing any details.

Daniella Smith

Oso Good Clean Eats


I couldn't run my business without the Castiron platform. It made it so easy to get my shop up and running — it truly removed a massive barrier to me getting started!

Ali Serpe

Kultured Kombucha


I realized that the barrier of having to DM or text me to order was holding a lot of potential customers back.

Now that I have a professional website and a simple ecommerce checkout, I'm seeing a huge increase in new customers and they appreciate how easy Castiron makes ordering.

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