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Wisconsin Cottage Food Laws and Regulations: How to sell your homemade foods in Wisconsin

Wisconsin Cottage Food Laws, Regulations and Facts

Wisconsin Cottage Food producers won a legal battle and the right to sell some home-made foods, starting on October 2, 2017,but questions still remain about where or how home producers may sell their products.

 

Where may Cottage Food Production Operations sell the food products?

They may be sold directly to the consumer  at farmers markets and other community events.

 All sales must be made in-person and go directly from the producer to the consumer. Cottage Food Products may not be sold across state lines.  In other words, only be sold within the state.

Bakers and Canned good producers may sell:

  • at Farmers' markets
  • at non-profit Community events
  • in a CSA's boxes
  •  town celebrations,
  • sporadic church or service club bazaars

Sales which are not allowed include:

  • Out of the producer's home   (see baked goods exemption)
  • Wholesale (resale by someone else)
  • in restaurants or roadside stands
  • catering
  • On consignment
  • Via the internet  (see baked goods exemption)
  • out of state
  • for-profit events,
  • flea markets,
  • craft shows,
  • traveling circuses or carnivals,
  • high school sporting or fund-raising events, and
  • regularly occurring licensed food-sales events such as a church's Friday-night fish fry.

Baked goods exemption: Selling online and shipping products by mail

There is a difference here between baker and canned goods.  Guidance from the state of Wisconsin says:

Home canned goods may NOT be sold online nor shipped by mail

The "Home Canned" exemption has a very specific allowance for where those products can be sold. It does not include online sales. Here is the language from statute:

97.29(2)(b)2. 2. A person is not required to obtain a license under this section to sell at retail food products that the person prepares and cans at home in this state if all of the following apply:

a. The food products are pickles or other processed vegetables or fruits with an equilibrium pH value of 4.6 or lower.

b. The person sells the food products at a community or social event or a farmers' market in this state.

c. The person receives less than $5,000 per year from the sale of the food products.

d. The person displays a sign at the place of sale stating: "These canned goods are homemade and not subject to state inspection."

e. Each container of food product that is sold is labeled with the name and address of the person who prepared and canned the food product, the date on which the food product was canned, the statement "This product was made in a private home not subject to state licensing or inspection.", and a list of ingredients in descending order of prominence. If any ingredient originates from milk, eggs, fish, crustacean shellfish, tree nuts, wheat, peanuts, or soybeans, the list of ingredients shall include the common name of the ingredient.

 Baked goods MAY BE sold online and/or shipped by mail

According to the state (by email, February 20, 2020):

"The Judge's ruling for home baked goods, does allow for online sales directly to consumers. Here is a link to additional information regarding that ruling.

https://datcp.wi.gov/Pages/Licenses_Permits/HomeBakers.aspx"

 

 

 

 

None of the state's published guidance directly addresses that specific case. I'm not a lawyer, but my take on that would be, it is not allowed, for two reasons. First, they didn't specifically say you could do it, and the state of Wisconsin has historically been overbearing and a nanny-state in regard to cottage foods, so you're walking on thin ice.
Secondly, it leaves your control and enters a federally control mail delivery system, so the state could argue it is no longer "direct to the consumer".

If you do want to pursue, it, simply contact the state and ask them specifically, and get their reply in writing!

Questions? Contact Information:

 Not sure if your product can be sold without a license? Contact University of Wisconsin Extension: 608-263-7383 or Wisconsin Dept of Agriculture, Trade & Consumer Protection: 608-224-4682

For legal questions:
​Licensing Consultant
(608) 224-4720​
​​​[email protected]​​
For additional information or to submit your application, contact:
Licensing Assistance
608-224-4923
[email protected]
Application/Payment
Wisconsin DATCP
Division of Food and Recreational Safety
PO Box 93586
Milwaukee, WI 53293-0586


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Above is the
2020 version of
the Ball Blue Book