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South Carolina

South Carolina’s cottage food laws are very basic and are intended to get someone started before opening a full-scale commercial operation. They only allow operators to make baked goods and candy, which is more restrictive than most other states. However, the main limitation is that they only allow $15,000 of sales per year. Sales must be made directly to the consumer, so while selling to retail stores or restaurants is prohibited, most other venues are permitted.

Although there is no license for cottage food operations, all home-based food businesses in South Carolina must get a business license for tax purposes. In addition, they must apply for a simple exemption from registration and inspection, and certain product may require lab analysis. All in all, the process to get setup with these laws is quite minimal.

Selling

Allowed Foods

Only “candy and baked goods that are not potentially hazardous foods” are allowed. Moist breads like zucchini, pumpkin, and banana bread may not be allowed. Candy-coated nuts, dried fruits, and popcorn are all considered “candy”. Here’s some more detailed info about allowed foods.

Lab testing may be required on certain types of food products, like fruit pies (see Business section).

To sell custom-order baked goods, like wedding cakes, you must contact the DHEC at 803-896-0640.

You can sell under 400 gallons of honey directly to the consumer by applying for an exemption.

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

Limitations
Sales are limited to $15,000 per year

Business

Application For Cottage Exemption

Each operation must apply for an exemption from registration and inspection, which does not cost anything.

State business license

While there is no license specific to the cottage food laws, each operation must be licensed as a business by the state for tax purposes, which costs $50. The code for this license is 445291. Operators must file taxes every month (even if they make no sales).

Product Analysis

Lab testing may be required on certain types of food products, like fruit pies and moist quick breads. More information about product analysis can be found at the bottom of the first page of the application.

Labeling

Sample Label

Chocolate Chip Cookies

"NOT FOR RESALE – PROCESSED AND PREPARED BY A HOME-BASED FOOD PRODUCTION OPERATION THAT IS NOT SUBJECT TO SOUTH CAROLINA'S FOOD SAFETY REGULATIONS"


Forrager Cookie Company

123 Chewy Way, Cookietown, SC 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)


More labeling info can be found in the Cottage Foods Labeling Guidance document.

Workplace

Ingredients for the business must be kept separate from those for personal use.

Resources

Contacts

Angie Culler-Matthews

Job Title
Program Coordinator
Organization
SCDA Food & Feed Safety
Email
[email protected]
Telephone
803-734-7321

Alicia Attaway

Job Title
Administrative Assistant
Organization
SCDA Consumer Services
Email
[email protected]
Telephone
803-737-9700
Address
123 Ballard Court
West Columbia, SC 29172

Kimberly Baker

Job Title
Food Safety Associate
Organization
Clemson University Cooperative Extension
Email
[email protected]
Telephone
864-986-6014
About
Handles product approval and testing

Adair Hoover

Job Title
Food Safety Agent
Organization
Clemson University Cooperative Extension
Email
[email protected]
Telephone
864-656-9986
About
Handles product approval and testing
Law Dates
June 2012
H4689
This page was last updated on

Comments

Hello I am interested in starting a business and selling cheesecakes. As I understand it this is a restricted item under the cottage law and would have to be prepared in a commercial kitchen. My question is how much of the baking has to be done in the commercial kitchen. Am I allowed to prep things at home such as the crust, toppings and icing prior to baking or does this all have to be done in a commercial kitchen. They can be on the expensive side for someone just starting so if i can shave down as much time as possible on the baking end that would help. Also once its prepared in the commercial kitchen does it have to be stored there?

    Usually all prep and storage needs to occur in the commercial kitchen, but I’ve heard of health depts being lenient about this sometimes. To alleviate the expense of a commercial kitchen, you can look at kitchens in churches or community buildings, or in restaurants during off hours, and see if they will allow you to use their kitchen for a more reasonable rate. But yes, starting a commercial food business can be very expensive, and that’s why you have to be particularly diligent about pricing your products high enough and focusing on reducing processing time and ingredient costs.

Is there any way I could sell small batch homemade hot sauce to local veggie stand or farmers markets in South Carolina similar to cottage law? This is more of a hobby than wanting a large business or profit.

I am starting my own cupcake business and I would like to know if it is illegal for me to use a name I came up with, even when I did google search I found out someone in Chicago Illinois has the same name?

    Assuming it’s not nationally trademarked or anything, you can use the fictitious business name. When you get a business license, you will file for a DBA (doing business as), and you may need to advertise your business in a local paper for a month or so. It would be more of a potential problem if the business who’s using the same name was in your state or county.

I’m curious as to what defines a mix? Is this just mix that requires refrigeration that. Is not allowed. Or would a mix of spices, “bisquick,” basically dry mixes and rubs be acceptable? Thank you.

    “Mixes” refer to dry mixes, like baking mixes, seasonings, dry soup mixes, etc. Basically, anything that’s not a baked good or candy is not allowed.

I have started a CF business selling cake pops. I would be distributing them to customers for events. Is that considered “catering”? Can I advertise using the word “cater”?

    If you are simply delivering cake pops to events, that would not be considered catering. Catering implies that you are actually serving the food (e.g. cutting a wedding cake and putting it on plates). Since you’re only offering a product, rather than a catering service, I wouldn’t recommend you use the word “cater”, but I don’t know if it would be illegal to do so.

Hi David, what if I plan on baking custom cakes and cookies to order and not sell at markets. Do I still need to fill out this exempt form? I have all licenses and tax stuff done already. Can I just start baking?

David, I just found this site with all of the info that I have been searching for for several weeks! I believe the questions regarding marshmallows were in reference to me. I did make a candied bacon/maple one and realize that because of the bacon it is not allowed, so it will no longer be offered. Marshmallows can be made with or without the use of eggs. I do not use them in mine. There is an issue that I fail to understand, though. If chocolate is allowed… truffles, toffee, bark, etc. (and according to the list of what is allowed, it is), then why have I been told that I can’t dip or drizzle my marshmallows in a chocolate coating? This doesn’t make any sense to me. Who would I contact to find out? I emailed Kimberly Baker last week, but didn’t get a response, and many of my questions have been answered here. But I would like clarification on that one. The primary ingredient in marshmallows is definitely sugar, so I don’t see what the problem is! HELP!

    Oftentimes, chocolate-covered marshmallows are associated with an onsite chocolate fountain, which is a catering business and wouldn’t be allowed. If you are dipping the marshmallows in chocolate in your home and packaging them there, I don’t see any reason why that wouldn’t be allowed. You can try contacting the ag dept for more clarification.

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