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Making Money from the Kitchen: Cottage Foods

Do you have a recipe for a spectacular pie or cake? Want to make some money? The cottage food law in Florida can help make that happen. Cottage foods are essentially foods you can make in your kitchen without a food permit that can be sold direct to customers with minimal regulations.  The kinds of foods that can be produced under the cottage food law must be foods that have a low risk of causing foodborne illness.

The purpose of Florida’s cottage food law is to lower the regulatory burden for people who want to start a small business with minimal resources. No permitting is required from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) nor any other state government entity. While no permitting is required, there are notable restrictions within this law regarding what you can sell, how you sell, and how much you sell.  The limitation on gross sales for a cottage food operation cannot exceed $50,000 annually. Cottage food operators may advertise and sell their goods online, though all products must be delivered by mail order. If the cottage food operator is selling their goods in person, they must be sold directly to the consumer or a consumer’s private event rather than wholesale.

Another key consideration is the labeling requirements for all cottage food products sold. They must contain the following: the name of the product, name and address of the cottage food operation, ingredients, weight or volume, and allergen information. The label must also contain the following statement: “Made in a cottage food operation that is not subject to Florida’s food safety regulations.”

It’s important to understand the kinds of foods that cannot be sold as a cottage food in order to understand what can be sold. The key restriction is any food that is either time or temperature controlled for safety. Essentially this means no meat, no dairy, no eggs, and almost nothing canned or bottled.  The limitations still allow for a lot of options for the would-be kitchen monetizer. All grain-based foods and baked goods, such as breads, cakes, cookies, and pastries, are allowed so long as they do not contain any of the aforementioned restricted ingredients.  Other allowed foods include: confections, candies, honey, high acid jams, jellies, and preserves, dried fruit and herbs, vinegars, and nut butters.