Michigan Law Lets Entrepreneurs Prepare Food At Home and Sell it

Has a friend ever come to your house, eaten a few of your gingersnaps and told you that you could make money marketing the cookies?

Believe it or not, Michigan’s cottage foods law allows the sale of baked goods, dry pasta, roasted coffee beans and more if the products are made in your home kitchen and sold to customers at farmers markets, roadside stands or other direct markets.

People interested in selling products under the cottage food law must be food-safety certified. An online training program is available from the Michigan State University Extension Office.

Producers are also required to make the product at their “single family domestic residence,” which can include house, an apartment, condominium or a rental home, but it must be the entrepreneur’s primary residence. Second homes, vacation homes or motor homes do not qualify if they are not the primary residence. Products must also be stored in the primary residence.

Cottage food producers are also limited in the amount of money they can make from their enterprise. The law sets the limit at $25,000 a year. It will also be necessary to maintain sales records and provide them to a Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development (MDARD) food inspector upon request.

The cottage food law also requires products to be labeled, even if the labeling is handwritten. The label must contain:

  • Name and physical address of the cottage food operation (the physical address of the home kitchen where it is produced).
  • Name of the product.
  • The product ingredients, in descending order of predominance by weight. If you use a prepared item such as soy sauce or store-bought horseradish in your recipe, you must list the sub-ingredients as well.
  • The net weight or net volume of the product, including the metric equivalent.
  • Allergen labeling as specified in federal labeling requirements.
  • The following statement: “Made in a home kitchen that has not been inspected by the Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development” in at least the equivalent of 11-point font (about 1/8-inch tall) and in a color that provides a clear contrast to the background.

Selling directly to consumers under the cottage food law provides an opportunity for new, small-scale food processors to “test the waters” and see if operating a food business is the right fit. The law also enables farmers who sell produce at farmers markets and on-farm markets to expand their product lines to include things like baked goods and jams.

MDARD views cottage food sales to possibly be a stepping stone into a full-scale, licensed food processing business.

For more information about the cottage food law, visit michigan.gov/mdard/0,4610,7-125-50772_45851-240577–,00.html.

To find out more about the MSU Extension food safety program, go to

canr.msu.edu/cottage_food_law/online-michigan-cottage-food-lawtification.

 

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