Did you know Buckeyes can make and sell homemade Buckeyes? That’s because those peanut butter and chocolate candies we call Buckeyes are a “cottage food” in Ohio. And our Cottage Food Law allows home-producers to make cottage foods with little agency oversight and without obtaining a food license. There are several laws that do apply to making Buckeyes and other cottage foods, though. We explain them in our newly updated law bulletin on Ohio’s Cottage Food Law.
Why do we have a Cottage Food Law?
Food science teaches us that some foods pose a lower food safety risk than other foods. Likewise, some foods have a higher chance of causing a foodborne illness if not handled properly. Our Cottage Food Law recognizes this difference and allows home-producers to make and sell those food products that have a low food safety risk and don’t require special handling. At the same time, the Cottage Food Law prohibits home-producers from making higher risk “potentially hazardous” foods.
Which foods are cottage foods?
The Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) has the responsibility of determining which foods are cottage foods. If a food is on the cottage food list, the Cottage Food Law applies. The full list is in our Ohio Cottage Food Law Bulletin and in Ohio Administrative Code Section 901:3-20-04. It includes items like baked goods, candies, jams and jellies, granola, and many dry mixes, herbs and mixes. But note that there are exceptions in many of the categories. For example, freezer jam and sugar free jam are exceptions in the jam category, and those types of jams are not cottage foods. For this reason, it’s important to identify whether a specific food product is on the cottage foods list. ODA also maintains a helpful list of foods that are not cottage foods, and we explain those in the bulletin. Many producers will be disappointed to know that salsa is on that list.
What laws apply to cottage foods?
Even though a home-producer need not obtain a food license to make and sell a cottage food, there are four laws that do apply to a cottage food product. These laws address:
- Labeling requirements
- Packaging restrictions
- Sales restrictions
- ODA product sampling authority
Read about these legal provisions and more in our Ohio Cottage Foods Law bulletin, available in the Food Law Library on farmoffice.osu.edu. Also check out our recent webinar that addresses product development and laws for cottage foods and other home-produced foods in the Starting a Food Business webinar series.