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Q and A: Understanding Florida's Cottage Food Law - UF/IFAS Extension Lee County

Q and A: Understanding Florida’s Cottage Food Law

What is a Cottage Food?

A cottage food product is a non-potentially hazardous food product produced in an unlicensed home kitchen. A person who produces a cottage food product is a Cottage Food Operator.

Does a Cottage Food Operator require a license or permit?

Cottage food operations require no license or permit from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) and are not inspected by any state government entity. However, Cottage Food Operators are not exempt from city/county regulations. Local governments can enact ordinances restricting a cottage food operation in a personal residence. Always check with the zoning agency in your City or County regarding their home business requirements.

Does a Cottage Food Operator require an occupational license?

Anyone who wishes to start a business in Lee County or has an established business from another county and wants to operate in Lee County must obtain a Lee County Local Business Tax account. Click here to view the tax application or to find an office location near you click here. If your home business is located within one of the municipalities listed below, a city business tax receipt or zoning approval may be required before applying for a Lee County business tax receipt. Contact your zoning agency to find out their requirements:

Bonita Springs 239.444.6150 www.cityofbonitaspringscd.org

Cape Coral 239.574.0430 http://www.capecoral.net/

Fort Myers 239.321.7990 www.cityftmyers.com

Fort Myers Beach 239.765.0202 www.fortmyersbeachfl.gov

Sanibel 239.472.9615 www.mysanibel.com

If a Homeowners Association (HOA) governs your residential area check to make sure there are not regulations and/or restrictions in place for home based businesses

The farmers market where I want to sell my products requires a Food Protection Manager license. Can the market require additional licensing for Cottage Food Operators?

Yes. Even though an entity may meet the requirements of a Cottage Food Operation, some local markets may require vendors to have additional licensing or to meet other policy requirements.

The UF/IFAS Lee County Extension Office offers both the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association SafeStaff Food Handler and ServSafe Food Protection Manager Certifications. For more information regarding training and exams, please contact Family Consumer Agent, Jennifer Hagen, at 239-533-7510 or click here to email Jennifer.

What foods can be prepared under the Cottage Food Law?

Cottage Food Operators can prepare non-potentially hazardous foods, as defined by FDACS rule in accordance with Section 500.80, Florida Statutes. Allowable cottage food products do not require temperature control for safety. These foods have a low risk of foodborne illness, may be prepared in an unlicensed home kitchen and require specific packaging and labeling. Some examples of food products under Florida’s Cottage Food Law include:

  • Loaf breads, rolls, biscuits
  • Cakes, pastries and cookies
  • Candies and confections
  • Honey
  • Jams, jellies and preserves
  • Fruit pies and dried fruit
  • Dry herbs, seasonings and mixtures
  • Homemade pasta
  • Cereals, trail mixes and granola
  • Coated or uncoated nuts
  • Vinegar and flavored vinegars
  • Popcorn, popcorn balls

Keep in mind, that even though the above products are not considered potentially hazardous, safe food handling and processing practices ensure your food product’s safety. For more information on food safety provided by government agencies click here. For more information on what food products are allowed or not allowed, click here and to reference FDACS 2017 Cottage Food guidance document click here.

My food product is not allowed under the Florida Cottage Food Law, now what?

A cottage food operation cannot produce food items that require temperature control for safety. Food products that are potentially hazardous, meaning they present a food safety risk, are prohibited under Cottage Food Law and require commercial processing in a permitted facility. Individuals may rent/lease, build or retrofit such a facility.

For more information on what foods are frequently associated with food poisoning or foodborne illness click here.

Where can I make cottage food products?

Cottage foods can be prepared in a Florida resident’s primary residence home kitchen. Second homes, vacation homes, motor homes or outbuildings such as sheds or barns are not allowed.

Is a home kitchen inspection required?

No. However, if a complaint is received regarding a cottage food product or its production, FDACS may enter and inspect the premises of the associated cottage food operation.

How do I label my cottage food products?

Cottage food products must be labeled in accordance with the requirements as outlined in Florida Statue Section 500.80 and United States Code of Federal Regulations Title 21, Pt. 101.

All cottage food products offered for sale to the public must be prepackaged with an affixed label that includes:

  • Name and physical address of the Cottage Food Operation
  • Name of the product
  • Ingredients of the product in descending order by weight
  • Net weight or volume of the product
  • Food allergen labeling, if your product contains any of the 8 major allergens
  • Nutritional information*

The required cottage food statement is also mandatory: “Made in a cottage food operation that is not subject to Florida’s food safety regulations” and must be readable in at least 10-point type in an ink color that contrasts the background of the label.

*A sample label can be found on the FDACS Division of Food Safety Cottage Food Guidance factsheet.

How do I package my cottage food products?

All cottage food products must be prepackaged for individual sale with the required cottage food label affixed.

Where can I store my cottage food products?

Cottage food products must be stored in an area free of dampness, pests or unsanitary conditions in your primary residence.

Where can I sell my cottage food products?

Cottage Food Operators must sell directly to the consumer or the consumer’s private specific event venue. In addition, cottage food products can be sold at farmers markets, green markets, flea markets and roadside stands (provided there are no other food items at the stand that require a food permit). Cottage Food Operators are prohibited to sell to local restaurants, grocery or convenience stores, food trucks, mobile vendors, antique or consignment shops, mail order, wholesalers, brokers, distributors or across state lines.

Can I use the internet to sell my cottage food products?

Cottage Food Operators may sell, offer for sale and accept payment over the internet but products cannot be delivered by mail order.

Do I need insurance?

It is highly encouraged to obtain product liability insurance to cover the products you sell. Check with your insurance company to determine the impact of a home-based business on homeowner’s liability.

Is there a limit to how much I can sell a year?

Gross sales of all products from a single cottage food operation must not exceed $50,000 annually.

Can I provide samples of my cottage food products?

Yes, Cottage Food Operators can serve samples but the samples need to prepackaged in the home kitchen (e.g., you cannot cut the samples in the market, but you can cut them in your home kitchen and individually wrap or package the samples into sample containers with lids).

For more information:

Visit the Lee County Extension Office or contact Family and Consumer Sciences Agent, Jennifer Hagen, at 239-533-7510 or email Jennifer here.

Acknowledgements:

www.freshfromflorida.com

https://www.fda.gov/

Section 500.80, Florida Statutes

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Posted: February 2, 2018


Category: Agribusiness, Agriculture, Food Safety, Work & Life
Tags: Business License, Business Tax Account, Cottage Food, Cottage Food Operator, Family And Consumer Sciences, Farmers Market, Food Product, Home Business, Home Kitchen, Jennifer Hagen, Lee County


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