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Ohio Cottage Food Laws and Regulations: How to sell your homemade foods in Ohio
Ohio Cottage Food Laws, Regulations and Facts
Under the Ohio 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.
Which foods are subject to the Ohio Cottage Food law?
Only food products that are non-potentially hazardous (as defined
by the State of Ohio, not your own definition) fall into
the cottage food category. Ohio Administrative Code Section
901:3-20-04 lists the food items approved as cottage food products.
This list of allowed items is very specific and includes the
following food products:
- Non-potentially hazardous bakery products (such as cookies,
breads, brownies, cakes, and fruit pies)
- Jams, Jellies and fruit butters (like apple butter)
- Candy (including no-bake cookies, chocolate covered pretzels
or similar chocolate covered non-perishable items)
- Granola, granola bars, granola bars dipped in candy
- Popcorn, flavored popcorn, kettle corn, popcorn balls,
caramel corn (does not include un-popped popping corn)
- Certain baked goods like unfilled, baked donuts, Waffle
- Dry cereal and nut snack mixes with seasonings
- Roasted coffee, whole beans or ground and Dry tea blends
- Dry baking mixes in a jar (for making items like breads and
- Dry herbs and herb blends
- Dry seasoning blends (such as dry barbeque rubs and seafood
The following were recent added, effective January 22, 2016
- Flavored honey produced by a beekeeper, if a minimum of 75%
of the honey is from the beekeeper's own hives;
- Fruit chutneys;
- Maple sugar produced by a maple syrup processor, if at least
75% of the sap used to make the maple syrup is collected
directly from trees by the processor;
- Waffle cones dipped in candy;
- Dry soup mixes containing commercially dried vegetables,
beans, grains, and seasonings.
This OSU Extension page explains in more detail.
Basically, ANYTHING that is not on the approved list above is by
default prohibited. Here is more explanation: for example, the
following are prohibited from home production for sale:
- acidified foods, Acidified food means a low acid food to
which acids or acid foods are added (Ex. Beans, cucumbers, cabbage,
- low-acid canned foods. Low acid food means any food with a finished
equilibrium pH greater than 4.6 and a water activity greater than 0.85.
- 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, salsas, BBQ sauces, canned vegetables,
And recent revisions clarify that the following foods are also
prohibited; meaning they do not fall under the
cottage food law:
- Fresh fruit that is dipped, covered, or otherwise
incorporated with candy;
- Popping corn.
- Fruit in granola products (If adding fruit to granola,
granola bars, or granola bars dipped in candy, which are all
cottage food products, the fruit must be commercially dried.)
- "Cottage Food Production Operation"
according to Chapter 3715 of the Ohio Revised Code 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
- "Home" means the primary residence occupied by the residence's owner, on the condition that the
residence contains only one stove or oven used for cooking, which may be a double oven, designed
for common residence usage and not for a commercial usage, and that the stove or oven be operated in
an ordinary kitchen within the residence.
- A naturally high acid canned food is a food that has a natural (without the addition of acid) pH of 4.6 or below. Example:
tomato based products.
- An acidified canned food is a low acid food to which an acid or acid food has been added. Example: pickles
- A low acid canned food is a food that has a pH greater than 4.6 and a water activity greater than 0.85. Example: green
- Prohibited foods include acidified foods,
low-acid canned foods, potentially hazardous foods or
non-potentially hazardous foods not listed above. 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.).
example, salsas, BBQ sauces, canned vegetables, frozen
foods and homemade hummus must be produced in a licensed
facility. Specifically, salsas, BBQ sauces, and canned
vegetables must be produced in a licensed cannery facility.
Licensing information for these types of food products is
available on the Ohio Department of Agriculture's website.
- Eggs are a separate case. See this page for information about selling eggs in Ohio
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
Cottage Food Production Operations must label all of their food products properly,
which must include specific information on the label of each
unit of food product offered or distributed for sale.
page for label requirements, sample labels and a template to use.
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 within Ohio. They may be sold
- directly to the consumer from the home where the products are produced.
- through grocery stores,
- registered farm markets,
- registered farmers markets,
- sold and/or used in preparing food in a restaurant.
If you want to produce a home-based food product in Ohio, here is the
decision process to follow:
- Is the food product you want to produce in Ohio's definition of
"cottage foods?" If so, you do not need a license. (but you must follow
the other requirements above, like labeling, where you can sell, etc.)
- If the food product is not a "cottage food," is it a "home
If it meets the home bakery
definition, you will need to obtain a home bakery license and pass a
home kitchen inspection.
- If the food product is not a "cottage food" and is also not "home
bakery" product, You cannot produce the food in your home;. You
may used a licensed kitchen (or co-packer) to produce the food or have
it made for you.
More about canned products:
All canning operations are licensed and inspected by ODA, FS, regardless of where the product is sold. All facilities must meet Good
Manufacturing Practices. The only exception is for a cottage food operation that produces jams, jellies and fruit butter as noted above. If your
canned food product does not meet the exception above the following applies:
- If you are producing a naturally high acid canned food, you will need to have your product tested to determine the actual pH before calling
the Division of Food Safety for an inspection.
- If you are producing an acidified canned food or a low acid canned food you must attend Better Process Control School, have your product
evaluated by a process authority, register with the FDA as a cannery and file your process with the FDA before you call ODA, FS for an
inspection. You can contact the division at 614-728-6250.
- Information on Better Process Control School can be found at: http://www.fpa-food.org/content/BPCS.asp
- A process authority is someone the FDA recognizes as knowledgeable in food processing. You can contact the Division of Food Safety at
614-728-6250 for more information.
- To register with the FDA as a cannery go to: http://www.fda.gov/downloads/AboutFDA/ReportsManualsForms/Forms/UCM076778.pdf
- To file a process with the FDA go to: http://www.fda.gov/downloads/AboutFDA/ReportsManualsForms/Forms/UCM076784.pdf
Beyond the requirements, common sense, good practices and
reducing liability suggests you should do the following.
ServSafe® training classes for Manager and employees, the 7th Edition Book that accompanies this course should be purchased here..
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.
paper 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
- Recipe, including procedures and ingredients
- Amount canned and sold
- Canning date
- Sale dates and locations
- Gross sales receipts
- Results of any pH test
Although inspections are not required, you should consider
doing the following:
- 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
- Wash hands frequently while working
- Consider annual testing of water if using a private well
Questions? Contact ODA Division of Food Safety:
1-800-282-1955 Ext 4366
Request an Appointment via email