The passage of the Cottage Food Law in Minnesota has changed sections of current legislation under MS 28A.15, specifically, subdivisions 9 and 10. This new law affects all persons selling food formally under 28A.15 subdivisions 9 and 10, and persons starting business on or after July 1, 2015.
Q: What Changed?
A: All individuals shall register before selling exempt food regardless of the amount of food sold. This includes individuals who sold food prior to the enactment of the new law and individuals who start selling food after the enactment of the new law.
Q: Is there a cost to registration or a limit on the amount of food I can sell?
A: You must pay a fee of $50 if you sell more than $5,000 but less than $18,000 in a calendar year. If you sell less than $5000 there is no fee. You are limited to $18,000 dollars in food sales in any calendar year. If you sell more than $18,000 you need a license. A calendar year is January 1st. through December 31st.
Q: How do I calculate my food sales?
A: On the day you register your food sales are $0. The next time you register you calculate your sales based on what you sold last year. This is an honor system, however MDA may look at your records and you are required to pay tax on your income. When you register you will need a social security number or Minnesota tax ID.
Q: How long is my registration good for?
A: Your registration expires on December 31st. of the year it was issued.
Q: Are there requirements I need to meet before registration?
A: Yes, you must take the MDA on line training, pass a test and certify you comply with local laws.
Q: I am a certified food manager is this training acceptable?
A: No, while the food safety information received in that course in satisfactory, it does not cover the cottage food law requirements.
Q: How do I register?
A: Go to the Minnesota Department of Agriculture Web site and click on the link for the registration form. Complete the form and attach the required information. Submit the form. MDA will send you the registration certificate by mail or e-mail. As an alternative you may visit MDA at 625 North Robert St. in St. Paul, or contact a local MDA Food inspector to help you complete the registration. (http://gis.mda.state.mn.us/food/)
Q: What information will I need to provide to obtain registration?
A: You must have documentation from your local jurisdiction (city or county) that you are not violating a local ordnance buy selling and producing food from your home. You will need proof you have taken the training course offered on line by MDA and passed the test. You will also need information requested on the registration form including your social security number or MN tax ID number.
Q: What happens if the city or county objects to me making or selling food in my home?
A: MDA will reject or revoke your registration. MDA IS PROHIBITED FROM ISSUING A REGISTRATION UNLESS YOU COMPLY WITH LOCAL LAWS.
Q: what food can I sell after being registered?
A: You can only sell non-potentially hazardous foods, pickles, vegetables, or fruit with a pH of 4.6 or lower at a farmers market, community event or from you home, and you must be the producer of the food and sell it to the consumer of the food. This means any food you make you must personally sell and deliver.
Q: Where can I sell food that I make?
A: From your home, over the internet, at a farmer’s market or community event.
Q: Does the food need a label?
A: Yes, you must label the food with your name, address, city, and zip code, a list of ingredients contained in the product including allergens. The allergen of concern are; milk, eggs, wheat, soy, nuts, fish, shellfish. For more information take the training course.
Q: I’m concerned about someone knowing where I live. Can I use a post office box as an address?
A: No you must use a physical address in case someone needs to contact you concerning the food. Your Physical address is required. You may provide additional contact information.
Q: What other information must I provide the customer?
A: You must post a notice at the point of sale including your web site should you sell on the internet as follows. These foods are homemade and not subject to state inspection.
Q: What do I need to prove I am registered?
A: Like a driver license you must show the registration when asked. Keep it with you when selling food. An inspector or market master may ask to see it. If the registration cannot be verified you will be asked to stop selling food. MDA offices are not open on weekends or holidays so the MDA’s data base may not be available to confirm your registration, however inspections are conduct on weekends in some locations.
Q: Can I use the post office to deliver products?
A: No. Sales must be directly from the producer to the end consumer, not through an intermediary.
Q: Can I register as a cottage food producer as an LLC?
A: No. The cottage food producer registration is limited to individuals only and excludes businesses such as firms, partnerships, cooperatives, societies, associations, companies and corporations.
Q: Can I register as a sole proprietorship?
A: Yes. Individuals can register using their legal name as either an individual or a sole proprietorship. If you are registered as a sole proprietorship with the Minnesota Secretary of State you can also register a ‘doing business as’ (DBA) name. Both the legal name of the sole proprietorship and the DBA name are required on the cottage food producer registration application.
Q: Can I have a Community Supported Agriculture model of distribution for products under the Cottage Food Producer Registration?
A: Yes. Customers must come to your place of residence to pick up products or you, as the producer, must deliver them directly to customers. You may not leave products for customer pick up at a location other than your residence.
Q: Do I need to register if I’m only selling food at a bake sale for an educational, charitable or religious organization?
If the food for the bake sale is prepared onsite at the educational, charitable or religious organizations then you don’t need to register. However, if the food is prepared in your home you would need to register and the bake sale would be considered a community event by MDA.
Q: Will I be regularly inspected by the department if I register to sell cottage foods?
The MDA does not intend to conduct routine regulatory inspections of homes where cottage foods are produced. However, if food sold by someone who is registered is suspected or confirmed to be a source of illness or injury, the department may investigate the location where the food was produced. Under Minnesota Law the department has the authority to enter at reasonable times any establishment where food is manufactured, processed, packed or held. Inspection and investigation activities would be limited to areas of the location where food is manufactured, processed, packed or held.
Inspections may occur at farmers' markets or community events to verify registration and that food is being sold in a manner consistent with Minnesota Food Law and Minnesota Consolidated Food Licensing Law.
Q: If I'm registered as a Sole Proprietorship can I have employees that sell food on my behalf?
You may register as a sole proprietorship and you may have employees that sell food on your behalf. Registration limits of $5,000 and $18,000 apply to the registered sole proprietorship and not to individual employees and the sole proprietorship is responsible for ensuring the sales by employees fall within the allowed limits. If registering as a sole proprietorship, the individual registering is responsible for completing the training and paying the registration fee associated with the registration. Additional information on tax reporting requirements for sole proprietorships is available from the Department of Employment and Economic Development. Sole proprietorships that have employees must register using a Minnesota Tax Identification Number.