Skip to main content

Montana

Montana’s new cottage food bill (HB 478) went into effect on October 1, 2015. This law is a major leap forward, allowing all forms of in-person sales within the state. Prior to this cottage food law, Montana only allowed some types of homemade goods to be sold at farmers markets.

Cottage food operators need to register with their local health department for a $40 fee, unless they only want to sell at farmers markets. However, the application is very extensive, requiring detailed plans for all products and processes. Fortunately, many types of food are allowed and there is no sales limit.

Montana’s path to a cottage food law was unlike any other state. In 2013, they passed a bill (HB 630) that required the relevant departments to study the current food situation in the state, compare it to common standards, and make recommendations for improvement. The study was published in May 2014 and heavily focused on the development of a cottage food law, with very specific recommendations about how that law would be implemented. Montana’s cottage food law now follows those recommendations very closely.

Selling

If you only sell at farmers markets, you do not need to register as a cottage food operation.

If you are selling at venues other than a farmers market, you need to have your certificate of registration on-hand, in case a health authority asks for it.

Allowed Foods

Prohibited Foods

More information about allowed foods can be found in ARM 37.110.503. Other non-potentially hazardous items may be allowed on a case-by-case basis. Contact your local health authority to determine if your product is allowed.

Only certain types of jams, jellies, preserves, fruit butters, and dried fruits are allowed. More details about those products can be found in the Recipes section of the permit application.

You can also sell hot coffee and hot tea (without fresh milk or cream) at a farmers market.

Contact the Department of Livestock if you want to sell pet food or animal feed.

Only "non-potentially hazardous" foods are allowed, but certain non-PHFs may not be allowed. Most foods that don't need to be refrigerated (foods without meat, cheese, etc.) are considered non-potentially hazardous. Learn more

Limitations

There is no sales limit

Business

Registration

To register, you need to submit a permit application to your local environmental health department, which costs $40. Registration does not need to be renewed, but you must re-register if you add/change products or move to a different home. Registration is not required if you only sell at farmers markets.

The application is very lengthy, requiring many detailed plans:

  1. Recipes
    • Includes all variations of recipes you’ll use, along with ingredient lists, measurement amounts, and directions
  2. Production Process
    • Includes all processing steps you take, along with equipment you use, that aren’t included in your recipes or packaging
  3. Packaging
    • Includes all packaging you use and how you package your products
  4. Labels
    • Includes a copy of a label for each recipe
  5. Cleaning Process
    • Includes when and how equipment and surfaces are cleaned, along with how you prevent allergen contamination

Other registration requirements can be found in ARM 37.110.511.

If your application is approved, you will receive a certificate of registration, which you must keep with you while selling to the public.

Water Testing

If your home uses a private well or non-public water source, it must be tested by a certified laboratory to prove that the water is safe.

Labeling

Sample Label

Chocolate Chip Cookies

"Made in a home kitchen that is not subject to retail food establishment regulations or inspections"


Forrager Cookie Company

123 Chewy Way, Cookietown, MT 73531


Ingredients: enriched flour (wheat flour, malted barley flour, niacin, iron, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), butter (cream, salt), semi-sweet chocolate (sugar, chocolate, cocoa butter, milkfat, soy lecithin, natural flavors), brown sugar, granulated sugar, eggs, vanilla extract (vanilla bean extract, alcohol, sugar), baking soda, salt (salt, calcium silicate)


Contains: milk, eggs, wheat, soy


NET WT 2 lb 4 oz (1.02 kg)


If a nutritional claim is made (e.g. “low fat”), a nutrition facts panel must be included on the label.

More labeling guidelines can be found in the Labeling section of the permit application, as well as ARM 37.110.504.

Workplace

Food and equipment may only be stored in the registered area of your home.

There are many workplace and hygiene requirements listed in ARM 37.110.506, 37.110.507, 37.110.508, & 37.110.510.

Resources

Contacts
Department
Public Health & Human Services
Law Dates
September 2015
ARM 37.110.5
October 2015
HB 478
This page was last updated on

Comments

Hello: Does one need a permit to sell fresh eggs? I raise chickens, feed them the (expensive!) organic feeds and sell some eggs to friends. While I don’t want to be ‘illegal’ I may wish to expand my operation. Where are locally produced eggs at in all this?

or comment as a guest
* required (your email will not be displayed on the site)
Allowed tags