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Cottage food regulations now exist in most states that make a
home-based candy business re;latively easy. It all depends on
your state's regulations, the type of candy you want to make and/or
sell, and conditions at your home kitchen. Here are the basics
and how to verify what you need to do in your state and specific
The starting point is to determine how your business would be regulated and by whom. Many states have "cottage food laws" that exempt or reduce requirements for certain types of foods made in smaller quantities in a home kitchen. Typically, these include breads, cookies, fruit pies, honey, sorghum, dry cookie, cake, bread, and soup mixes; and hard candies. See this page to decide if the type of candy you want to make and/or sell qualifies as a "cottage food" and what requirements appy. If your food product does not meet your state's 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.
The choices you make will determine the regulations, licenses and inspections that you may - or may not - be subject to. The biggest decision is whether to make the candy yourself or buy it wholesale. The latter, is of course, simpler. The next decision is the type of candy to sell. also determines what rules are applicable. But itis also a marketing decision. Will this type of candy sell well? And where and how to sell it?
The easiest, in terms of reduced regulations are card candies that do not contain dairy products and do not require refrigeration. Within this, there are many specialty niches, like
Do you want to make the candy yourself, or buy it wholesale? If you just buy it wholesale, that can reduce many requirements. There are suppliers like
Almost all businesses require some form of local city, county or state business license or registration. This usually means a city business license and a state business registration at the secretary of state website online.
There are national, state and even non-profit organizations and magazines that may offer free guideance to help you set up your business. Sme examples of these are
It's a good idea, after you have done your research, to speak with both a business lawyer and an account, to be sure you haven't missed any requirements or practical considerations. There's no way any website can provide all of the considerations - they vary widely by state, county, city and your own circusmstances.
Food manufacturing and food handling permits may be required from your state's health department if you will be making the candies yourself. Again, check with them about cottage food status; you may be exempt if you are below certain volumes and stick to "nonhazardous" types. If you are buying candies wholesale and reselling them, you will usually not need these permits. Along with the food permits, an inspection may be required of your kitchen and home, if you are making the candies at home.
You will need a cool, dry, clean and safe place to store your inventory. You can either rent a food grade warehouse (NOT a U-Store garage type place, even if it is climate-controlled - these are not food grade).
If you plan to sell online you may want to look into website like Etsy, 1000 Markets, Foodzie, Shopify, BuyItSellIt, or Core Commerce. Keep in mind that if you are attempting to use the Cottage Food exemptions, these usually prohibit online sales.
Your state may allow sales at and from these locations with reduced requirements.
If you make the candy yourself, you will need to buy packaging that is FDA-approved for food contact. Here are some choices:
To ship, you will want generally an account with DHL, UPS or FedEx
Getting the word out and drawing positive attention is key! If
you have a website or webstore you will want clear photos of the
candies to show on your website.
Beyond the requirements, common sense, good practices and reducing liability suggests you should do the following.
It's best to use a pH meter, properly calibrated on the day
used. I use this one, which is reliable and inexpensive.
Short-range 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.
Keep a written record of every batch of product made for sale, including:
Although inspections are not required, you should consider doing the following:
Above is the
2020 version of
the Ball Blue Book