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South Carolina Cottage Food Laws and Regulations: How to sell your homemade foods in South Carolina
South Carolina Cottage Food Laws, Regulations and Facts
Date of the enactment of the South Carolina cottage food law,
Cottage Bill (SC 44-1-143 H): June 7, 2012, called South Carolina's Home-Based
Food Production Law.
This SC law allows home-based food operations that operates out of
an individual's home to prepare, package, store and distribute
non-potentially hazardous foods (baked goods and candy)
directly to consumers for sale. This page is updated twice a year,
or when we become aware of changes to the laws. For the most
current information, go directly to
Also see the references and contact information at the bottom of the
page to contact the experts at Clemson directly.
Which foods are subject to the South Carolina Cottage Food law?
The Home-Based Food Production Law covers non-potentially
hazardous baked goods that are sold directly to the end consumer. Examples of these type products are:
- baked cookies,
- baked cakes,
- baked breads (see moist quick bread prohibition below)
- baked high-acid fruit pies (apple, apricot, grape, peach,
plum, quince, orange, nectarine, blackberry, raspberry,
boysenberry, cherry, cranberry, strawberry, red currants) and
If a product is not listed, the person can determine if it is
non-potentially hazardous by contacting Dr. Kimberly Baker
([email protected] ) or
). A product analysis to determine the interaction of pH and/or
water activity (Aw) is required to exempt any product not listed
above. Analysis will be at the expense of the home-based food
operation, in other words, at your expense..
Canned and jarred foods are not covered by the law and are not
eligible for exemption. Contact SC DHEC at 803-896-0640 for more
information.Examples of potentially hazardous baked goods include, but are
not limited to
- Moist quick breads like zucchini, pumpkin & banana may be
- pumpkin pie,
- sweet potato pie,
- cheese cake,
- custard pies,
- cream pies,
- pastries with potentially hazardous toppings or fillings.
- animal foods that are raw or heat-treated (i.e.,
- a plant food that is heat-treated or consists of
- raw seed sprouts;
- cut melons;
- cut leafy greens;
- cut tomatoes or mixtures of cut tomatoes not modified to
prevent microorganism growth or toxin formation;
- garlic-in-oil mixtures that are not modified to prevent
microorganism growth or toxin formation.
- Fresh, dried, or cured meats or poultry (jerky)
- Canned or jarred fruits, vegetables, salsas. Standard recipe
jams and jellies (ONLY) made from high-acid fruits (fruit,
sugar, and pectin only) are allowed under SC Reg. 61-25 section
8-301.12(A)(12) without a retail food establishment permit.
- Fish or shellfish
- Canned or jarred pickled products (chow-chow, relish,
- Raw seed sprouts
- Refrigerated baked goods
- Vacuum sealed products
- Tempered and/or molded chocolate (fudge may be allowed under
SC Reg. 61-25 section 8-301.12(A)(12) without a retail food
establishment permit. Other forms of fudge, such as fudge sauce,
may require product assessment to determine whether they can be
allowed under 8-301.12(A)(12).
- Milk and dairy foods (yogurt, cheese, milk)
- Cut fruits or vegetables
- Cooked vegetable products
- Dried spices or herbs
- Garlic or herbs in oil mixtures
- Ice/ice products
- Bar-B-Q sauces, ketchups, mustards, or marinades
- Focaccia style breads (moist quick breads like zucchini,
pumpkin, and banana)
If your food product does not meet the definition of a Cottage
Food, you may still be able to make and sell it commercially,
through a startup approach.
See this page for detailed information about selling foods that do
not meet the Cottage Food definition.
- "Home-based food production operation"
means an individual, operating out of the individual's dwelling,
who prepares, processes, packages, stores, and distributes
nonpotentially hazardous foods for sale directly to a person.
- "Nonpotentially hazardous foods" are candy
and baked goods that are not potentially hazardous foods.
- "Person" means an individual
- "Potentially hazardous foods"
(a) an animal food that is raw or heat-treated; a
plant food that is heat-treated or consists of raw seed sprouts;
cut melons; cut leafy greens; cut tomatoes or mixtures of cut
tomatoes not modified to prevent microorganism growth or toxin
formation; garlic-in-oil mixtures not modified to prevent
microorganism growth or toxin formation;
(b) certain foods
that are designated as Product Assessment Required (PA) because
of the interaction of the pH and Aw values in these foods. Below
is a table indicating the interaction of pH and Aw for control
of spores in food heat-treated to destroy vegetative cells and
Foods in Item 2 in the table above with a pH value greater than
5.6 and foods in item (3) with a pH value greater than 4.6 are
considered potentially hazardous unless a
product assessment is conducted pursuant to the 2009 Federal
Drug Administration Food Code.
- DHEC Defines Candy As:
Candies and confectioneries
(confectioneries are candies, delicacies or sweets that have
sugar as a principal ingredient, combined with coloring matter
and/or flavoring). Candies have low water content and do not
require refrigeration for safety.
Candy coated nuts
coated dried fruits
Candy coated popcorn
uncooked fruits such as strawberries, cranberries, or cherries
are considered non-potentially hazardous.
- DHEC Defines a Baked Good As:
Baked high-acid fruit pies (apple, apricot, grape, peach, plum,
quince, orange, nectarine, blackberry, raspberry, boysenberry,
cherry, cranberry, strawberry, red currants). NOTE: These
products are not allowed unless product testing demonstrates
that these products are non-potentially hazardous - therefore
not requiring refrigeration for safety.
In South Carolina the Home Based Food Production Law is overseen by
SCDHEC. No retail food establishment permit is required
so long as all food production is in the home kitchen.
If you move out of your home kitchen to prepare products, a permit
issued by SCDHEC is required. Additionally, you may only sell to the
end consumer (i.e. the person who intends to eat the food). You may
not sell to a retail food establishment or sell your products at a
retail food establishment (this includes permitted mobile food
units). You may sell your product at venues such as farmer's and
You must also get a business license for tax purposes.
Cottage Food Production Operations must label all of their food products properly,
in compliance with federal laws and regulations. Labels must
- Name and address of the home-based food operation
- Name of the product being sold
- Complete list of ingredients (it is suggested that allergens be
listed, but not required)
- Net weight must be provided in both customary (such as pounds and
ounces) and also in metric measurements (grams or kilograms)
- A conspicuous statement printed in all capital letters and in a
color providing a clear contrast to the background that reads
"NOT FOR RESALE-PROCESSED AND PREPARED BY A HOME-BASED FOOD PRODUCT
OPERATION THAT IS NOT SUBJECT TO SOUTH CAROLINA'S FOOD SAFETY
Here is a free
Microsoft Word label template which you can download and edit.
These labels are already formatted to fit on Avery Template 22820
Print-to-the-Edge Oval, Labels 2" x 3-1/3", 8 per Sheet, Glossy White.
You can get the label stock online (see at right).
more help with labeling, please see this page.
Where may Cottage Food Production Operations sell the food products?
- Additionally, you may only sell to the end consumer (i.e. the person
who intends to eat the food).
- You may not sell to a retail food establishment or sell your
products at a retail food establishment (this includes permitted mobile
- You may sell your product at venues such as farmer's and flea
- Cottage Food Products may not be sold across state lines. In
other words, only be sold within the state.
- Direct sales to consumers only: These foods
cannot be sold for re-sale/wholesale.
- No retail food establishment permit is required so
long as all food production is in the home kitchen. Once you
move out of your home kitchen to prepare products, a permit
issued by SCDHEC is required.
- Annual limits: You may sell no more than
$15,000 per year.
- Exemptions: Custom, made-to-order or
special-order products do not fall under the jurisdiction of the
SC DHEC. Some examples of these type
products include, but is not limited to: wedding cakes, birthday
cakes, shower cakes, etc.
- Additional lab testing: Certain products,
those that fall outside the defined allowed foods, may
require lab analysis.
- Hygiene: Each home-based food production
operation shall maintain a clean and sanitary facility to
produce nonpotentially hazardous foods including, but not
(1) department-approved water supply;
(2) a separate
storage place for ingredients used in foods intended for sale;
(3) a properly functioning refrigeration unit;
facilities, including a sink with an adequate hot water supply
to meet the demand for the cleaning and sanitization of all
utensils and equipment;
(5) adequate facilities for the storage
of utensils and equipment;
(6) adequate hand washing facilities
separate from the utensil and equipment cleaning facilities;
a properly functioning toilet facility;
(8) no evidence of
insect or rodent activity;
(9) department-approved sewage
disposal, either onsite treatment or publicly provided.
No pets may be in the kitchen or food preparation area while you
are making the foods.
Beyond the requirements, common sense, good practices and
reducing liability suggests you should do the following.
Testing of pH
It's best to use a pH meter, properly calibrated on the day
used. I use this one, which is reliable and inexpensive.
And this pH meter is really good, but isn't always available.
pH test strips, commonly known as litmus paper, may be used
instead, if the product normally has a pH of 4.0 or lower and the
paper's range includes a pH of 4.6.
Record-keeping is suggested
Keep a written record of every batch of product made for sale,
- Recipe, including procedures and ingredients
- Amount canned and sold
- Canning date
- Sale dates and locations
- Gross sales receipts
- Results of any pH test
Although iInspections are not required, you should consider doing
- Use clean equipment that has been effectively sanitized
prior to use
- Clean work surfaces and then sanitize with bleach water
before and after use
- Keep ingredients separate from other unprocessed foods
- Keep household pets out of the work area
- Keep walls and floors clean
- Have adequate lighting
- Keep window and door screens in good repair to keep insects
- Wash hands frequently while working
- Consider annual testing of water if using a private well
- Allergans: Most state home baking
acts require an "ingredient statement" and/or an "allergen
listing" on the label of the bakery item for sale; but if your
state does not, you should anyway. The eight major food
- crustacean shellfish,
- tree nuts,
- wheat and
- Cross-allergenicity: There are also
ingredients available, even flours, that can cause a
cross-allergenicity. The American Academy of Allergy Asthma &
Immunology explains cross-allergenicity as an allergic reaction
when proteins in one substance are similar to the proteins found
in another substance. For example, consumption of lupine flour
may trigger an allergic reaction to peanuts, and cricket flour
may trigger an allergic reaction to shellfish. Again, providing
such information might be a beneficial marketing tool and help
keep potential consumers safe.
- The 2 Hour/4 Hour Rule - Anyone
wishing to make and sell refrigerated bakery items should
remember to follow the "2 Hour/4 Hour Rule." This is a system
that can be implemented when potentially hazardous foods are out
of temperature control (temperatures greater than 45 degrees
Fahrenheit) during preparation, serving or display for sale. The
rule guidelines are as follows:
- If a potentially hazardous food has been out of
temperature control for 2 hours or less, then it may
continue to be used or be placed back in the refrigerator.
- If a potentially hazardous food has been out of
temperature control for more than 2 hours but less than 4
hours, it needs to be used quickly or discarded.
- If a potentially hazardous food has been out of
temperature control for more than 4 hours, it must be
Summary of different types of Bakery Operations
Permits: Bakeries, Bake Sales, and Selling Baked Goods to Store or
- Retail Bakery If you want to operate a retail bakery, you must get a food service
permit before opening, and your bakery must meet the same standards
as any other retail food service. See Regulation 61-25 Retail Food Establishments for all general
- Selling Baked Goods to Stores or Restaurants
If you plan to sell baked goods to permitted facilities like
convenience stores or restaurants, you will be regulated by and need
to contact the S.C. Department of Agriculture for instructions and
- Bake Sales and Weekend Home Bakers - No permit is needed if you do not possess a business license or
advertise, and in the case of home bakers, only prepare nonpotentially hazardous breads and pastries for friends and
- Home-Based Business (NOT an exempt Cottage Food
business): If you hope to operate a bakery out of your home, you must:
- Check with local zoning
officials to see if you are allowed to operate a home business
in your area.
- Meet the same requirements as
any other retail food service (including having a separate
kitchen for baking)
- Contact the S.C. Department of Agriculture for
forms, instructions and
requirements if you plan to sell baked goods to permitted
facilities like convenience stores and restaurants.
Licensed food kitchens
These are great if your food business is growing beyond the
limitations of your home kitchen and the cottage food laws.
commercial kitchen available for rent in York, SC!
Church of the Good Shepherd at 108 East Liberty Street is offering for
rent its commercial grade, DHEC certified kitchen. The kitchen has two
tub prep sinks, 3 tub washing sinks, several tables for preparation, a
gas range/oven, two sliding door refrigerators, and an automatic dish
washing machine. We also a large capacity ice machine. Also available
for rent is dry storage space. Please contact Libby Bradford at 803 242
8407 with questions or an appointment to see the kitchen.
Questions? Contact Information:
For more information, contact
Question regarding the Home Baked Food Production Law (i.e. The
"Cottage Law") should be directed to
- DHEC Division of Food Protection (803-896-0640)