small jars of homeade strawberry jam

The Cottage Food Law allows for individuals to make and sell certain non-potentially hazardous food and canned goods in Minnesota without a license. This law, the Cottage Food Exemption, went into effect in 2015 and includes details on the prior training and registration, types of food allowed, food labeling, types of sales locations, and amount of sales allowed by a cottage food producer. Additional legislative changes were passed in 2021, with an effective date of August 1, 2021. Key changes included:

  • Increasing the sales cap per registered individual to $78,000 (up from $18,000).
  • Adding home-processed pet treats for dogs and cats only as an allowed cottage food.
  • Allowing individuals to organize their cottage food business as a business entity recognized by state law.
  • Requiring the label to include either the individual’s name and registration number OR the individual’s name and address.
  • Requiring the label to include the statement “These products are homemade and not subject to state inspection.” 

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about the Cottage Food Law.

 

Registration – Before you Register

 

All individuals who want to make and sell foods described in the Cottage Food Law need to register with the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) before selling food.

If you’re not regularly engaged in selling food, as defined in Minnesota Statute, then you don’t need to register. However, if you regularly sell cottage food at these types of venues or directly from your home, then you do need to register.

The cost of registration is determined by annual sales within the calendar year, which begins on January 1 and ends on December 31. The registration fee is $50 if you sell more than $5,000 in a year. If you sell less than $5,000 in a year, there is no fee.

Note: 2021 legislative changes included adjusting the annual gross receipts cap of $5,000 by January 1, 2022, based on the consumer price index. This means the gross receipts will change to approximately $7,200 for 2022.

See answer in Question 19 below. Note that the maximum amount of annual sales allowed under the Cottage Food Law is $78,000 for an individual.

Your registration expires on December 31 of the year it was issued. If you want to continue to sell food under the Cottage Food Law, you will need to re-register for each year that you are selling food.

Yes, you must complete training and pass an exam prior to registering and selling cottage food. For more information on training, see the Training section below.

You must comply with the ordinance and cannot produce and sell food from your home. Depending on the ordinance, it may be possible to make and sell food as a registered cottage food producer at an acceptable location such as a commercial kitchen. If you have a question about this, check with your city or county.

When you register as a cottage food producer, you must do so as an individual under your full name. However, you may operate as a business entity recognized by state law, such as an LLC. Your should include your business name on your registration form under “doing business as” (DBA).

Yes. You can only register and sell food under the Cottage Food Law if you are selling a type of food allowed under law, have taken the proper training, are properly labeling the food, are selling and delivering the food directly to consumers in places allowed by the law, are not exceeding the $78,000 annual sales cap, and your local jurisdiction (city or county) does not have an ordinance restricting you to make and sell food from your home. Each of these topics are further explained in the sections below.

You can apply for a food license. Food licenses do not have restrictions on the amount of annual sales, allow for a wide variety of foods to be sold, and allow for several types of sales. To find out more, go to the MDA Food Licensing Wizard.

Registration - How to Register

Visit the MDA Cottage Food Producer Registration page for a step-by-step process on how to register.

You will need to provide your name, address, and contact information. You will also need to provide your social security number or a Minnesota Tax ID number. Finally, you will need to sign and date the registration form attesting that you have taken the training and understand and will follow the Cottage Food Law.

Keep your registration with you when selling food. An inspector or market manager may ask to see it and you need to show your registration when asked. If the registration cannot be verified, you may be asked to stop selling food.

All current cottage food registrations can be found on our MDA license lookup page. Fill in the desired search terms (registration number, name, city, or county) and select COTTAGE FOOD PRODUCER REGISTRATION in the License Type list.

All cottage food producers with a current registration will receive a re-registration reminder in the mail at the end of December. You have two options for re-registration: (1) you can complete a paper registration form or (2) you can re-register online following the instructions and using the PIN provided in the re-registration notice. The online re-registration portal also accepts payment of any registration fees that are owed. Note that there is a $2.50 processing fee for the $50 registration fee paid online for Tier 2 producers.

If your name or your address has changed, you will need to complete a new registration form to re-register and provide the updated information. At this time, you cannot use the online portal to re-register if you have moved or changed your name.

Amount of Sales

Food sales are based on the anticipated amount of cottage food sales during the calendar year for which you are registering. This is the amount of gross annual receipts, not just profits, meaning the total amount for all sales as measured by the sales price.

You are limited to $78,000 dollars in food sales in any calendar year. If you sell more than $78,000, you need a food license and meet applicable laws for making and selling food under that license. For more information about food licenses, see the MDA food licenses page or go to the MDA Food Licensing Wizard.

Training

Yes, you must complete the training appropriate for the amount of sales expected during the calendar year before you register (see Question 6). You will be asked to provide the most recent date that you completed the training when you register.

There are two types of training, one for each sales category:

  • Tier 1 – For annual food sales up to $5,000, you must complete a free online training course and exam. This course can be found here: Cottage Food Producer Tier 1 Training.
  • Tier 2 – For annual food sales between $5,001 and $78,000, you must complete a safe food handling training course that is approved by the Commissioner. Refer to the University of Minnesota Extension Food Safety Program for more information. This Tier 2 training is currently offered as an in-person course or as an online course and there are training fees for both courses.

No, you must take training that is specific to the Cottage Food Law. The required training covers specific considerations about preparing food safely in a home kitchen and covers the Cottage Food Law requirements.

There are two training requirements, one for each sales category:

  • Tier 1 – For annual food sales up to $5,000, you must complete a free online training course and exam every year.
  • Tier 2 – For annual food sales between $5001 and $78,000, you will need to re-take training every three years or if you switch from Tier 1 to Tier 2, meaning you go from selling less than $5,000 to selling $5,000-$78,000. You will be asked to provide the most recent date that you completed the training when you register.

Types of Food Allowed

You can only sell non-potentially hazardous foods and home-processed and home-canned pickles, vegetables, or fruit with a pH of 4.6 or below. Foods that are non-potentially hazardous do not support the rapid growth of microorganisms that can make people sick. Non-potentially hazardous foods have a pH of 4.6 or below, meaning they are acidic, or have a water activity of 0.85 or less, meaning they are relatively dry or have a high sugar or salt content that binds up the water making it hard for bacteria to grow.

Many university websites provide recipes that have been laboratory tested and shown to be considered non-potentially hazardous. If you are unsure if the food you want to sell meets the definition of a non-potentially hazardous food, there are laboratories that can test your food for pH and water activity and can be found through a web search for “food testing laboratories in Minnesota”.

Treats must be non-potentially hazardous, meaning they do not support the rapid growth of bacteria that would make people or pets sick when held outside of refrigerated temperatures. Only baked or dehydrated treats can be made under the cottage food exemption. Only treats for dogs or cats can be made and sold under this exemption, and they must be safe for the intended species. Some ingredients (for example, onions) may be toxic to cats or dogs and should not be added to pet treats.

You can apply for a food license. To find out more, go to the MDA Food Licensing Wizard.

Labeling, Signage, and Packaging

Yes, you must label the food with: (1) the name and registration number or the address of the individual who made the food, (2) the date that the food was made, (3) the statement “these products are homemade and not subject to state inspection, and (4) a list of ingredients contained in the product, including any allergens. The allergens of concern are milk, eggs, wheat, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, and shellfish. More information on labeling is provided in the cottage food training course (see Training section).

You must display a sign at the point of sale that states: “These foods are homemade and not subject to state inspection.” Examples of signs can be found at the bottom of this page and in the cottage food training (see Training section). If you are conducting internet sales, this same statement must be posted on your website.

 

Cottage food must be produced, pre-packaged, and labeled in the residence. Cottage foods cannot be produced onsite at a community event or farmers’ market. If the business wishes to produce foods onsite, the business may obtain a license from the state or local health department.

Sales Locations

A registered cottage food producer can sell the food they make from: (1) their home, (2) a farmers market (EXT), and (3) a community event. Examples of community events include public gatherings sponsored or hosted by a town, county, city, or municipality (for example, a county fair); or by a religious, charitable, or educational organization where the food is sold (for example, a school, fire, police, or parent/teacher association). A community event must be open to the public and not intended for profit. 

The cottage food producer who prepared the food product must be physically present to conduct sales at the booth or stand.

Food that is home-processed and home-canned, like pickles and salsa, cannot be sold outside of the State of Minnesota. For sales of other homemade food outside of the state (like baked goods), please review those states' laws to ensure the sale of homemade food is allowed.

 

If cottage food is ordered by a customer for delivery, the cottage food producer must personally deliver the food to the customer's home or meet the customer in person at another agreed-upon location within Minnesota to deliver the food directly to the customer. This means food cannot be shipped or delivered through the mail or a third-party shipping service.

Cottage food producers can receive orders over the internet. The customer can then collect the food they ordered by going to the producer's home, by picking up the food at a booth or stand at a farmers’ market or community event, or by the producer delivering the food to the customer.

Yes. Food made by a registered cottage food producer can be provided through donation to a community event with the purpose of fundraising for an individual or for an educational, charitable, or religious organization. The cottage food producer does not need to be present for the fundraising event.

No. All food must be delivered directly from the producer to the end consumer, not through an intermediary.

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 their or your residence.

No. The cottage food producer who prepared the food product must be physically present to conduct sales of their product.

Inspection and Compliance with the Law

Local agencies often conduct inspections at venues like farmers’ markets and community events to verify registration and that food is being sold in a manner consistent with Minnesota laws. In addition, if food sold by a cottage food producer is suspected or confirmed to have caused illness or injury, the MDA will conduct an investigation which may include an inspection of the location where the food was produced. Under Minnesota law, the MDA 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.

The MDA investigates complaints to ensure people selling cottage food are complying with the law, including all the topics covered in this guidance document: registration, training, sales amounts, sales locations, food types, and labeling and placarding. Actions depend on the severity of the violation and may include inspection, written notice, registration revocation, penalties, or prosecution.

Cottage food can be produced in a home kitchen or in a commercial kitchen as long as you follow local ordinances. Commercial kitchens are licensed by the Minnesota Department of Health, the MDA, or one of their delegated agencies.

*NOTE* As is always the case, do not make, sell, or store cottage food in your home if anyone in the household is sick. Follow good food safety practices of proper hand hygiene, preventing bare hand contact with ready-to-eat foods, and regular cleaning and sanitizing of equipment and surfaces.

Examples of Signs to be Displayed

For more information on these signs, see the Labeling and Displaying a Sign section above.