Ohio Cottage Food Law
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.
The world loves a good baker. If you’re one of those good bakers and you want to sell your baked goods, do you need a license? Maybe. Our newly revised law bulletin, “The Home Bakery Registration Law in Ohio,” explains when a license or “registration” is necessary for selling home baked goods in Ohio.
Whether you need to register for a Home Bakery license depends on the type of baked good you’ll produce. Certain foods are at lower risk of a food safety concern when produced at home, which we refer to as “non-potentially hazardous” foods. Those foods might fall under the Ohio Cottage Food Law, which does not require a license or registration for those who want to produce and sell foods that are on the cottage foods list. When a home baked good does pose higher food safety risks, however, the home bakery law applies to that food and additional practices are necessary to reduce food safety. The producer who wants to sell that type of home baked good must register as a “Home Bakery" with the Ohio Department of Agriculture to help ensure that food safety practices are in place.
Which home-baked foods fall into which category? This chart illustrates the differences between non-potentially hazardous “cottage" foods and potentially hazardous “home bakery” foods. If a food falls into the “potentially hazardous” category, the producer needs to apply for a Home Bakery license.
What’s required for the Home Bakery registration? Our law bulletin explains the registration and inspection process and labeling requirements. Read more about those parts of the Home Bakery Registration Law in our bulletin, available on the Farm Office Food Law Library at https://farmoffice.osu.edu/our-library/food-law.