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Maryland Cottage Food Laws and Regulations: How to sell your homemade foods in Maryland
Maryland Cottage Food Laws, Regulations and Facts
Date of the enactment of the
cottage food law: 2012. Update: October 2018
Maryland HB 1106
expands where home bakers can legally sell to include selling directly from
home or through mail deliveries. The bill also allows home
bakers to take custom orders.
Under the cottage food law, there are certain types of low
risk food products that may be produced and sold out of your home
kitchen with no inspection or licensing requirements.
Maryland's Cottage Food Business Law of 2012 established
requirements with regard to cottage food businesses (i.e.,
businesses that produce or package cottage food products in a
residential kitchen for annual revenues of up to $25,000 from the
sale of those products). In addition, the owner must comply
with all applicable county and municipal laws and ordinances
regulating the preparation processing, storage, and sale of cottage
food products. A cottage food business in compliance with these
requirements is not required to be licensed by the Department of
Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH). Products that may be produce under
the Cottage Food Industry law include High acid fruit jams and jellies, Non-potentially
hazardous baked goods, Hard candy and Honey.
Which foods are subject to the Maryland Cottage Food law?
Only food products that are non-potentially hazardous fall into
the cottage food category. A "cottage food product" is a nonhazardous food that is sold at a
farmer's market or public event.
Examples of Allowable Foods that may be produced under COMAR
- Non-potentially hazardous baked goods
[bagels, pastries, brownies, breads, cakes, pies, such as
- Pies, turnovers, and fruit tarts from fruits with
a natural pH of 4.6 or less
goods with a water activity of .85 or less, such as
- Baked bread, biscuits, and muffins
- Cakes and cupcakes
- High-acid fruit jams, preserves and jellies
[Made only from Oranges, Nectarines, tangerines,
blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, boysenberries, cherries,
cranberries, strawberries, red currants, or another fruit
mixture that produces an acid-canned product at 4.6 pH or less.] These are hot filled high-acid fruit jams, preserves and jellies fruit mixtures
that produce an acid-canned product at 4.6 pH or less
- Chocolate confections made from commercially manufactured chocolate (e.g., chocolate covered pretzels). Chocolates made
from raw cocoa beans, caramel, fudge, and other soft candies are prohibited.
- Whole roasted coffee beans
- Fruit butters [Made only from apples,
apricots, grapes, peaches, plums, prunes, quince, or another
fruit that produces an acid-canned product at 4.6 pH or less]
- Natural Honey [Unflavored and without any
processing or additives;
- Hard candy [made in a home kitchen that
does not require further refrigeration, such as lollipops, gummy
bears, or fruit leathers with a natural pH of 4.6 or less
- Repackaging of
commercially processed dry ingredients (i.e. spice blends)
- Fish or shellfish products;
- Fresh, dried, or dehydrated meat or meat products, including jerkies;
- Fresh, dried, or dehydrated poultry or poultry products;
- Baked goods that require any type of refrigeration (e.g., meringue pies, pecan pies, pumpkin pies, cheesecakes, cream and custard pies, and
pies and cakes or pastries with cream cheese/butter cream icings or filings);
- Focaccia-style breads with vegetables and/or cheeses;
- Raw-seed sprouts, including but not limited to alfalfa sprouts or bean sprouts;
- Raw cookie dough and pizza dough;
- Acidified foods/pickled products such as corn relish, pickles, or salsa, pepper jelly, sauerkraut;
- Milk and dairy products including hard, soft and cottage cheeses, and yogurt;
- Cut fresh fruits and/or vegetables;
- Food products made from cut fresh fruits or vegetables;
- Food products made with cooked vegetable products;
- Garlic and/or vegetable in oil mixtures;
- Sugar-free products, such as jams, jellies, syrups, marmalades and other preserves;
- Pumpkin and nut butters;
- Ice or ice products;
- Barbeque sauces, ketchups and/or mustards;
- Beverages, including juices, coffee, teas, bottled water, etc.;
- Candy and chocolate covered fresh fruits;
- Fresh pasta; or
- Dehydrating (or drying) herbs and vegetables
If your food product does not meet the definition of a Cottage
Don't give up. You may still be able to make and sell it commercially,
through a startup approach.
First, you may be able to rent space in a local licensed commercial kitchen.
Second, if that doesn't work, you may be able to get a co-packer to make the food for you.
See this page for detailed information about selling foods that do
not meet the Cottage Food definition
- A "cottage food" product is a non-hazardous
food sold at a farmer's market or public events.
A cottage food business (or a home-based business) is defined in the Code
of Maryland Regulations (COMAR) 10.15.03 as
a business that a) produces or packages cottage food products in a residential kitchen; and b) has annual revenues from the sale of cottage food
products in an amount not exceeding $25,000.
- Cottage Food Production Operation means,
a person who, in the person's home, produces food items that are not potentially hazardous foods,
including bakery products, jams, jellies, candy, fruit butter, and similar products specified in rules.
These foods must be labeled properly or they will be considered misbranded or adulterated
- Prohibited foods means anything NOT in the
list above, include acidified foods, low-acid canned foods,
potentially hazardous foods or non-potentially hazardous foods
not listed above and the following:
- No cream cheese, custards, or other
potentially-hazardous fillings, glazes, fruits or cream
cheeses that require refrigeration]
- flavored honey requires a processing permit from
- Chocolates, caramel, fudge, and other soft candies
require a permit
- Low acid food
means any food with a finished equilibrium pH greater than 4.6
and a water activity greater than 0.85.
- Acidified food means a
low acid food to which acids or acid foods are added (Ex. Beans,
cucumbers, cabbage, puddings, etc.).
- Potentially hazardous food
means it requires temperature control because it is in a form
capable of supporting the rapid and progressive growth of
infectious or toxigenic microorganisms (Ex. Raw or cooked animal
products, cooked vegetables, garlic in oil, cheese cakes,
pumpkin pies, custard pies, cream pies, etc.).
- A food of animal origin that is raw or
- A food of plant origin that is heat-treated
- Raw seed sprouts
- Cut melons
- Cut raw tomatoes
- Garlic and oil mixtures that support the rapid and
progressive growth of infectious or toxigenic microorganisms
or the growth and toxin production of Clostridium botulinum
- Cut leafy greens
Cottage Food Production Operations must label all of their food
products properly, which include the following information on the
label of each unit of food product offered or distributed for sale:
Under the law, the owner of a cottage food business may sell only
cottage food products that are stored on the premises of the
business and prepackaged, and meet the following requiremnents:
If the above foods are produced under the cottage foods
regulation these products may only be sold at a farmers market or
public event (Internet sales as well as interstate sales are
prohibited) and the operator must:
- Pre-package all products at the cottage food business
(typically, your home, the church kitchen, etc)
- annual revenues no higher than $25,000 from the sale of
- the owner must comply with all applicable county and
municipal laws and ordinances regulating the preparation
processing, storage, and sale of cottage food product
Provide a label as follows:
- The name and address of the
cottage food business;
- The name of the food product , for example "Chocolate Chip Cookies"
- The ingredients of the cottage food product in
descending order of the amount of each ingredient by weight . Your heaviest ingredient
be listed first and the least heavy ingredient listed last.
The, ingredients must be broken down completely if the
ingredient itself contains two or more ingredients. For example,
if unsalted butter is one of your ingredients, then you would
list it as follows: Butter (Sweet Cream, Natural Flavor).
- The net quantity of contents in both the U.S. Customary
System (inch/pound) and International System of Units (metric
system). This must be placed within the bottom 30% of the label
in a line parallel to the bottom of the package. An example of
what this would look like in both the U.S. Customary System and
International System is: Net Wt 8 oz (227 g)
- If this product was made under the Maryland Cottage Food
law, the label must contain the following statement in ten-point
type: "Made by a cottage food business that is not subject to
Maryland's food safety regulations." (10-point type) This
statement is required because it gives notice to the purchaser
of the food product that the product was produced in a private
home that is not required to be inspected by a food regulatory
- Allergen Statement. There are 8 foods considered a major
food allergen under the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer
Protection Act that must be declared on your label if they are
contained in your food product. They include:
- Fish - For fish, the specific species must be declared -
- Crustacean Shellfish - For shellfish, the specific
species must be declared - Ex: crab
- Tree Nuts - For tree nuts, the specific type of nut must
be declared - Ex: Almond
If any of these major allergens are contained in your food product,
then you may declare them in either of two different ways.
First, you can list the allergens in a "Contains" statement. The
"Contains" statement would follow the ingredients list and look like
this: "Contains: Wheat, Egg."
The second way to declare an allergen is in your ingredients list.
An example would be: "Enriched flour (wheat flour, malted barley,
niacin, reduced iron, thiamin monotrate, riboflavin, folic acid),
Egg." In this example, wheat and egg are specifically stated within
the ingredients so you would not need to put an additional
You can see another sample label here.
Where may Cottage Food Production Operations sell the food products?
Cottage Food Products may not be sold across state lines.
In other words, only be sold in Maryland. They may be sold directly to the consumer from the home where the products are produced;
or through mail deliveries.
They may also be sold through, registered farm markets,
registered farmers markets, bake sales (in
conjunction with a non-profit fundraiser), or
public events. Baked goods produced
under an on-farm home processing license may be sold at any venue in
Additional Cottage Food Business Requirements:
- Cottage food is not exempt from Federal or State taxes
(including, but not limited to, sales tax)
- Must produce or
package cottage food products in a residential kitchen
- The owner must comply
with all applicable county and municipal laws and ordinances
regulating the preparation, processing, storage, and sale of
cottage food (home‐use/occupation permits through the county)
- Must allow the Department access to facility to investigate
complaints of violations of the cottage food laws and
regulations; the owner may not refuse to grant access or
interfere with any inspection; investigation of a cottage
food business may include sampling of products to determine
misbranding or adulteration; the Department may enforce any
regulations adopted under the cottage food statutes; any foods
produced in violation may be deemed an unapproved source
- It is recommended that a cottage food business submit a
list of the items to be prepared and sample labels to the
Health Department for review to ensure compliance with these
*New** Effective October 1, 2020 a cottage food business may request (it is optional)
from the Maryland Department of Health a unique identification number that the cottage food business may use on the label of a cottage food product.
If a business chooses to request and use an identification number on the cottage food product label as an alternative to a
business address, the label must include the identification number and the name and phone number of the cottage food business.
a unique identification number or to sell your cottage food products to a retail food store, complete the Cottage Food Business Request form.
recommend reviewing the Cottage Food Business Checklist prior to submitting a request to sell your cottage food products to a retail food store.
This will ensure you have all the information needed to complete the process and will minimize delays in your review.
Please allow up to 3
weeks for the Department to review your request and issue your identification number.
If your cottage food business has received a compliance
letter for retail sales, please contact our office at [email protected] to
request a unique identification number.
Maryland state and local health department contact information.
Information from Maryland Rural Enterprise Development
- Maryland Department of Health and Mental
Hygiene, Office of Food Protection; Baltimore, MD 21202.
767-8400. Fax: 410-333-8931. Email:
- Ginger S. Myers, Ag Marketing Specialist and Director,
Maryland Rural Enterprise Development Center at the University
of Maryland Extension
Phone: 301-432-2767. Email:
- For more information or for items that do not meet the criteria above for Cottage Foods or need refrigeration, contact either your local
health department or the Maryland Department of Health at 410-767-8400 or email us at
[email protected]. .