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cottage food community

Tennessee

In 2012, Tennessee updated their home-based food laws to exempt home producers from needing to get licensed or inspected.  Under the new ruling, processors can sell directly from almost any location, which excludes indirect sales like restaurants and retail stores.  Operations may still get inspected and permitted under the older domestic kitchen laws, which would then allow them to sell indirectly.

Tennessee’s laws are fairly flexible, and producers can sell baked goods, candies, jams and jellies, or any other non-potentially hazardous food.  Also, there is no limit to how much they can sell, and there are no fees or costs to get started.  While there is no training required under this amended law, the Department of Agriculture still encourages processors to take a food handling course.

Selling

At the place of sale, the processor must place a regular (8.5″ x 11″) sheet of paper that says “These food products were made in a private home not licensed or inspected” (0.75-inch font).

Processors are allowed to give out free samples of their product.

Allowed Foods

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
There is no sales limit

Business

Even though there is no license or training required, processors are still encouraged to take a training course in food handling and have an authority check their recipes.

Labeling

Sample Label

Chocolate Chip Cookies

"This product was made in a private home not license or inspected."


Forrager Cookie Company

123 Chewy Way, Cookietown, TN 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)


Produced on 8/22/2014


NET WT 2 lb 4 oz (1.02 kg)


Resources

Law Dates
May 2012
SB 3547
This page was last updated on

Comments

Im hoping you can clarify something for me. Rgarding candies, the note mentions toffees, etc. but does not include chocolate. Then the next approved item on the candy list is chocolate. What am I missing? Also, some of my items are in quite small packaging. Is it ok to just include a separate listing of ingredients with the item i.e give it to customer or place in bag.

    I need to figure out how to make that less confusing. Chocolate has been separated into it’s own item because some states don’t allow it, but they allow other types of candy. TN allows both, which is why both categories are listed.

    I’m not sure how the dept would want you to deal with small items. If you attached it in some way to the item, I think you’d be fine, but if you want it to be totally separate, you should call the health dept.

    I see that you can have facebook as long as your aren’t taking orders. Does that apply to a website as well? Also, if I actually give my business a name and get a business license with my county, can I still operate under the Food Cottage Law?

I am from India, my wifeis good food maker, espcially our traditinal food(chicken and rice with indian spices), what is the process to get permission to make at home and sell at home.?

I have a couple separate questions. The first is I have been asked the manager of a apartment community to buy my cookies and then hand them out for free to the residents and prospective tenants. Is this allowed? 2nd would I be allowed to sell homemade fresh or dry pasta at farmers markets? And lastly if I make cupcakes with buttercream frosting would the Swiss or Italian meringue buttercream frostings be allowed under the cottage food laws or is swiss or Italian buttercream a potentially hazardous food?

    1) I think, given the direct nature of sales, that that would either not be allowed, or you would have to be the one handing out the cookies. Generally cottage food sales are intended for the final consumer. It’s probably not allowed but you can check with the health dept.
    2) Dry pasta should be allowed, but not fresh pasta.
    3) I don’t know… those buttercreams are always borderline and different health depts have different stances. You need to contact yours.

    Just out of curiosity, in terms of tn cottage food laws and sales, how would someone buying a large batch of cookies to give away be any different from someone ordering a wedding cake and then serving it to their guests?

    That’s a good point and I’m not sure I have a convincing answer. That’s also why I didn’t give a definite answer in the first place. It’s my gut feeling that the dept wouldn’t allow this based on the nature of the business agreement. If the business was holding a party for all of its tenants, I think that would be okay, but to continuously buy from you as part of its business seems like (in the dept’s eyes) crossing the line. But it’s impossible to know exactly where the line is without talking with them.

Hi, I will be moving to Tennessee soon and I wanted to start my business selling pastries and other baked goods. Would Macarons be on the no-go list? Macarons are made with egg whites but are fully cooked so I don’t see why not. I was just wanting to confirm it here.

Where can I find regulatory info for TN relative to selling herbs and spices in a retail store and online? Such herbs for cooking and medicinal use (although not diagnosing/prescribing).

Question about net weight. If I sell a 4 tier fondant covered wedding cake it can weigh over 70lbs. Is there a certain weight that exempts us from listing the net weight?

    I don’t think there is any exemption for that. You might try weighing the parts as you go and then adding them up.

    I’m not sure I understand. An inspection is not needed for your cottage food operation, but it you wanted to pay for one, I’m sure the health dept would do it. If that doesn’t answer your question, can you clarify it?

I’m considering teaching a cake/cupcake decorating class for children. Would you happen to know if I would need anything special to do so?

    If you go through Wilton just ot be certified as a instructor you can do it as freelance. Thats the beauty of Wilton. contact them directly and see if the instructor is close by. the classes are inexpensive and it saves you time to get srated. Normally I wodulnt go through it, but they have everything you need to do just what yu are asking. Then again thats just my 2 cents

    I don’t want to be a wilton instructor, I just want to teach children the basics and send them home with a cake they decorated. I’ve had overwhelming interest in it from the parents.

I’m still a bit confused: Are eggs and milk allowed in products? On several sites that show a sample label, they are showing eggs and milk; however, I thought that eggs and milk were not allowed to be used. How can you bake bread and cakes without eggs and milk?

    As long as they are incorporated into the batter and thoroughly baked, they’re not considered hazardous when left unrefrigerated. You can use them.

I need a bit more clarification about taking internet orders. Does that mean that a person cannot email or send a Facebook message and order a cake from me even if the cake/money exchange always happens in person?

    I believe that what you just said is fine… just be sure that you don’t have a online shopping cart or something for the person to pay online.

Would making homemade dog treats fall under the Cottage Laws for Tennessee? All of the products that will be used are human grade/safe (basically if I can’t eat it, then I’m not giving it to my dogs). I’m just not clear on where this type of business would fall within the State. My son is participating in an “entrepreneur” course for homeschool and this is the business that he wants to try, but I want to make sure that we are doing everything the proper way, so as not to get into trouble. Thanks in advance for your help.

Question! Some friends and I have developed an awesome spice rub and are looking at selling it. My question is, since the entire point of the spice rub is that it’s kind of a secret as to what’s in it, what are the laws on trade secrets for ingredient listing? If it’s not an allergen and a small part of the recipe, can it just be listed as ‘spices?’

    I am not an expert on it, but I believe you can contact the federal health dept and request concealment for certain ingredients. Doing this requires you to submit all of the ingredients to them, which they keep on file. I really don’t know much about it, but I know it can be done. I’m not sure if it would apply to a CFO.

If I start to sell cakes & the base of the batter is a store bought cake mix, do I list all the ingredients from the box or simply state what brand & flavor ect?

Please bare with me please as I’m trying to make sense out of all of this.
Do I need anything special to be able to sell cakes and desserts out of my home? Like a certificate or permit?
We live in a house that has an apartment above the garage. In June, I’m going to be using that as my work space. What do I need to do to be able to sell things like chocolate covered fruits, cream cheese products, etc?…
I’m thinking about looking into catering, will I need commercial equipment for that?

My husband and I are both truck drivers and I would like to sell baked goods at local truckstops, but not inside the truckstop. For example a table set up outside, or out of my car. Is this allowed, and if not, what would I have to do to be able to do this legally?

    It may be allowed. You need to call the planning division of the county you want to sell in, and see if selling at a truckstop would be okay, assuming the truckstop is giving you permission to sell there.

Hello. I started my own business where i specialize in dessert and candy table. I am licensed and insured. I bake like brownies and cupcakes but buy oreos and pretzels and strawberries and cover with chocolate. Do i need to have a domestic kitchen license because I do this out of my own home. I ordered all candy from an outside vendor and set up and display on a 6ft table at different events mainly weddings and showers.

    If you are preparing the food in your home, then yes, you would need to follow the rules on this page. The one thing that may not be allowed under this law is the chocolate-covered strawberries. It sounds like your business is more of a catering business, and catering is generally considered separate from a cottage food operation. However, if your items are all prepackaged at your home, then this could still work under the law for a domestic kitchen.

    I’m sorry, I wasn’t thinking there for a second. Everything I said above applies to the current cottage food law, not the domestic kitchen law. You don’t need to become a domestic kitchen because you are not doing indirect sales.

I’m sorry if I have missed someone else posting about this and it is redundant. But, if Tennessee does not allow internet orders, do they allow internet payments through paypal or square cash (different than the square swipe)? I know they are two different pieces of the transaction but still both potentially over the internet.

Okay here is the deal. I buy packaged block cheese from a retail store. Once home I unpackage and cold smoke the cheese. Then I vacuum seal it and mark what type of cheese, what type of wood it was smoked with and what date it was done on. Does the Cottage Food Law allow me to sell this type of product from home?

If I am selling baked goods to a co-worker at my 9-5 job, can I deliver their order to them at work, or does the order have to be picked up at my home?

    Tennessee isn’t particularly clear what is allowed and what isn’t. Dried fruits are probably allowed, and dried vegetables may be allowed. You really need to call the health dept to find out what they will allow.

What about home made extracts, like vanilla bean, sold at a farmer’s market. Do you have to get special licensing since there is alcohol content?

Ok – I have fudge that I am wanting to sell – I understand I can do Festivals, Farmers Markets, and from home. I also understand that I am not able to sell to a retail venue for them to resale at their location. What if I was to set up a kiosk at a retail area and sold directly? Would that be allowable?

I was wanting to sell breakfast wraps out of my home. I have seen tamales, tacos, and other wraps sold out of home around here, but after reading this over, I am unsure as to if this is actually legal since I would be cooking the eggs, meats, etc. I would be making them daily and selling them during a specific time. Is this allowed?

I had a domestic kitchen license & my kitchen was inspected. I took the food handling course thru the Tn. Dept. of Agriculture. I made baked goods, cakes, etc. I closed the business and did not renew my inspection fee to care for my aging Mother. My question is this: My granddaughter is getting married and I want to make her wedding cake, the venue owner for the wedding said I needed a license to make the cake. Would the Cottage law cover this and do I just need to contact the local health department? Am I understanding correctly that I am not required to obtain a license, locally or state wide? Thanks

    It depends on what the venue owner is requiring… perhaps they don’t know about the cottage food law? This is a strange case because the cake is not actually being sold (I assume). If you were to make the cake and sell it to the venue owner for their event, then they are correct that you would need to be licensed. I can’t really speak to this particular non-sale case because it’s so odd.

    But here’s what I can speak to. Let’s say your daughter “bought” the cake for $1. That would be a legal transaction because it would be a direct sale, and you wouldn’t need an inspection or health dept license for that sale, because of the revised cottage food law. If your daughter then brought that legal cake the venue owner for her wedding, I don’t see how they could turn it down. It would be just like her buying a cake from a commercial operation and bringing that to the owner. There is nothing illegal about it, and I would even say that if you talked to the health dept, they would probably allow this without any sale at all.

    Hi Elizabeth! Hopefully this will help..
    The venue is within their rights to not accept a cake (or any food for that matter) from somebody that is not licensed and/or inspected. It kinda fits into that CYOA philosophy, in the event that there is a mishap or (Im not insunaing this would happen) somebody would get ill.
    David is correct that the cake cannot be sold to the venue then to the wedding party. That would be considered an
    indirect sale. You should call the venue and ask them to clarify the policy, and also the Dept of Ag.
    If Icould suggest something…maybe you can speak to your granddaughter about you making thedesign they want but using dummy cakes. The venue and arrange to serve kitchen cakes, but your thoughtful gift would still get to be enjoyed by everyone for pictures and such. Just keep in mind that a dummy cake will cost you close to the same amount an edible one would (i have the impressionit is a gift anyhow).
    I hope that helps, enjoy the wedding!!

I am wanting to sell cookies and cakes from my home mainly to friends and family. I was wondering if I could post my website with my work on it or if that would be a violation ?

I am a new home bakery business in wilson county – i am registered and am filing for a business license once I get to the point of making $3000 in business. My question is – am I allowed under the cottage food law to use paypal for payments – so my customers can use a credit card and not just cash or check – even though they will pick up from me at my home? Thank you for any information you can offer.

Do the same rules apply for giving samples – where the samples were prepared in a cottage kitchen? Or are there separate rules for that?

    You do not need to label the samples, but you should still be preparing everything in your home kitchen (you shouldn’t be cutting up samples at the market). The buyer should be able to look at a label (on the product) before trying the sample, if they want to.

    If yours requires refrigeration before opening, then the answer is yes. If you’re not sure, then it may be allowed and you may need to get it tested. The ag dept will be able to give you more guidance.

Hello, I’m wondering if apple sauce falls in the category of jams/jellies. My recipe actually does not require heating or cooking it. All ingredients blended in a Vitamix. Is this hazardous? Thanks.

I have a market garden and am interested in selling dried herbs at our farmers market. My understanding is that once herbs are dried, they are considered a processed food. Is selling them allowed under the Tennessee Cottage Law? Thanks for your help!

I am trying to determine whether custom decorated cakes fall under the Cottage Law. There is sooo much conflicting info out there. I’ve heard it’s fine, and I’ve heard it falls under catering. Any ideas?? Thanks!

Maybe this is not the correct place to ask this question, but I’m going to go ahead and try it… If we have access to an inspected kitchen, can we produce jams and preserves there and sell them statewide? Specifically, if we don’t own the kitchen but simply rent it when needed.

    Yeah this site is really only dedicated to home food sales. But even just by making these items at home, you could sell them statewide. With the commercial operation you’re pursuing, you could sell them interstate. Just as a clarification, if you’re running a cottage food operation, then you can only use your home kitchen… if you are renting a commercial kitchen, you need the proper licensing for that.

Happy New Year! I am getting ready to start selling my Carmel popcorn at flea markets, however, it has been a secret family recipe for years. Is there any way to get around listing the ingredients? Also, do I need any kind of permits to sell my popcorn out of a vending trailer at festivals?

    You do need to list your ingredients, but you can group spices and flavors together to keep your recipe a secret (I think the term is “proprietary mixes”). I believe you have to get approval from the FDA to consolidate your ingredients like this, and they will keep a full list of the ingredients on-hand while keeping it a secret. I am not a labeling specialist, but there is probably one who works for the state… tracking them down would probably be your best next step.

    As long as you are preparing the popcorn at home, it shouldn’t matter what kind of trailer or stand you sell from. The festival organizers may require permits for you to get (like a sellers permit), but it wouldn’t be necessary otherwise. If you are trying to make the popcorn at the festival, then you would no longer be under the cottage food law and you would need to get special permits to do this, though I don’t know which ones.

I have just started baking and trying to sale out of my home.I make customs cakes and cupcakes,granola bars,muffins and cookies.I am wanting to make these products with more healthier options(cakes,cupcakes,muffins) like pureed pumpkin or applesauce.Are those allowed? Also I didn’t take a course I was just blessed with knowing how to bake.I want to know info for obtaining my license to sale,and inspections also.I am only making order to people I know and friends of friends.I want to do everything in the correct manner.Let me know if I am missing anything here.

    As long as the final product is classified as non-potentially hazardous (which basically means it doesn’t need to be refrigerated), then it should be okay. I assume your talking about healthy alternatives to other ingredients that will be a minimal part of your baked goods, correct? For instance, a pumpkin pie would not be allowed but pumpkin spice bread would be allowed.

    You don’t need any licensing or inspections from the ag department, but you do need to talk to your planning division to determine if there are other requirements you need to fulfill before selling.

    If I understand correctly, the OP wants to be licensed and inspected rather than a CFO. Contact the Ag dept. A licensed business in your home may then require there to be a separate kitchen, or the home kitchen has to have certain features like a door to close it off from the rest of the house. They will also not allow you to have pets.
    Another question you should address with them would be liability ins. There is always a risk when you bake at home, and when you expand your customer base that risk increases. If you are making granola or trail mix type of products there is a really high risk of cross contamination with peanuts, even if the product does not contain peanuts, just using mixing bowls or other utensils that have been in contact with peanuts and not thoroughly and properly washed can be deadly to somebody

    I thinknit’s great you are dedicated to using healthier ingredients and that gives you a target customer that you will want to serve. You can address that in your market research and business plan ( I’m still going with thinking you are wanting to be licensed). When you are setting prices, make sure you are educated on how to set prices. Ingredients, supplies, overhead such as electricity and liability ins, etc. Don’t become the cheap cake lady by undercutting your competitors which damages the market, and under-values your time and talents. Charge what you are worth!
    HTH!

I make wine jellies. Even though it starts out as an alcoholic product, the alcohol cooks out during the process – like the alcohol in vanilla cooks out. Are there any special prohibitions on this?

    I am not entirely sure, but I think this is probably okay. However, it seems like there would be a big difference between vanilla in cookies and wine in jelly. The wine (perhaps aside from the sugar) is the main ingredient, correct? If I recall correctly, in most items the alcohol doesn’t actually cook out 100% and it depends on the method and cook time. Vanilla in cookies is not only almost cooked out, but it’s also a very small amount to start with. If your final product is indeed alcoholic, there could be some special requirements, but I’m guessing that you’re cooking the wine at a rolling boil for a good amount of time, and that’s why you’ll probably be fine. But if you need official clarification, you need to talk to the ag dept.

I make and sell custom orders of cookies to coworkers. I make them in my own kitchen. What are the laws for this? It is only a hobby to make a few extra dollars.

    It sounds like this cottage food law would work for you. The laws are detailed above on this page and if you have any questions, let me know.

When listing the ingredients, the sample is broken down to include what’s in each ingredient. Is this necessary? When reading the referenced articles, is states you must use the common name. Can you clarify for me? Thanks!

    Most states require the break down and it is a safe way to go, as it is the federal standard. However, Tennessee doesn’t specifically say that you need to in the law. But if I were doing it, I’d still list the sub-ingredients for my customers, regardless of regulations. It’s increasingly common for customers to look at the ingredients to identify diet concerns, and it doesn’t take that much effort to list the extra ingredients. But it appears to be your choice.

    The “common name” is in reference to allergen ingredients. For example, it would not be sufficient to list “nuts” — you need to list “peanuts”.

I am getting a lot of questions from my local county health department on the specifics of “Cottage Law” since they are not well versed in the recent (1.5 yrs ago) amendment. Does someone have to physically come to my house to pick up the goods or can I meet them in a mutual place for pick up? Also, I make custom sugar cookies so each order is different visually depending on the design requested. They seem to think that is catering since each order differs from the last. Is that an issue as long as they are properly labeled? Under Cottage law, is it restricted to selling only set quantities/units of one type of item. Who do I need to contact at TN if I have further questions or I can refer my local authority to?

    Most states would allow delivery, but TN’s law is specific enough to state that the buyer does need to come to your home if they are not buying at an event or farmers market.

    Custom cakes and cookies are very common in the cottage food industry. In fact, I’d say the vast majority of home cake makers primarily do custom orders. That’s probably true for cookie makers too. I have never heard it considered catering, especially since the buyer is picking it up from you.

    You’ve made the right first step by contacting your county. If you feel they are being unreasonable, you can try to move up to the state level for support, since the law was developed at the state level. But your local county might still have precedence over whatever the state recommends.

I have another label question. Can I just put an ingredient label on the outer package? I often give cookies loose on a platter sealed in a bag or if they are individually wrapped they are still presented in a box. Is it ok to have one ingredient label on it if it is for sale to one recipient? I understand if you’re selling them individually ie a farmers market.

    Yes, it sounds like you understand it correctly. Basically the buyer needs to be carrying away an ingredient label. So if you sell a bag of individually wrapped cookies, then you could just put one label on the bag. Buyers are not allowed to resell your product, so most cottage food operations would not be individually wrapping bagged cookies.

I am wanting to make and sell chocolate covered cherry cordials. I know this falls under the candy part of the law, but I am confused, your article states that interstate sales are not allowed, however, internet sales and mail order sales are allowed. Can you clarify?

    Thanks for bringing that to my attention. I intended it to mean that you can use those methods for in-state sales, but now that I look at the law again (with a bit more know-how about bill author’s intentions), I can see that they never intended to allow internet sales. The law is written to allow direct sales only, even if they don’t make that explicitly clear. Therefore, I will remove those venue options from the list. You should still be able to advertise online, but I’m almost certain that they want you to meet all of your customers in-person.

    By the way, if you are using alcohol in your cordials, there may be special requirements. If you’re not using any, then you should be good!

    Thank you for the clarification. I tried reading the law myself but could not make heads nor tails of it.

I am currently getting my home designer cake business off the ground… I am getting so much business in fact that I want to get licensed. I can get a license under this law but not have to have an inspection? I currently do not have any type of business or food service license thru tn. I just want to be able to pay taxes so that I do not ru. I to trouble in the future for selling too much.

    You really don’t have to do much more to be compliant with the law. You could call your planning division and see if they require you to get anything. You’ll probably only need a business license to start paying taxes, but I think even if you didn’t apply for one, you’d still be fine and be considered a sole proprietorship by default.

I am thinking of selling some cheesecakes just to people I know and maybe eventually farmers markets or bake sales. Do cheesecakes fall under the cake category

I want to sell fondant cake toppers. Can I make and ship them to other states without a license? Also, can I make copyrighted designs such as Disney characters?

    Interstate sales are not allowed, and you are also not allowed to sell copyrighted designs, unless you have the permission of the copyright holder.

    These items may or may not be allowed, depending on the recipe and the health department’s ruling. If the items need to be refrigerated after you make them, then they are definitely not allowed. Otherwise, you should check with your health department about this. You may eventually be required to get them lab tested to ensure that they are shelf-stable. It is quite possible that even if your items were shelf-stable, the department would still not allow them because the law technically disallows “home-canned foods other than jams and jellies” — but the health department has the final say on this one.

    Beth, your BBQ sauce recipe should be allowed if it is a non-potentially hazardous food. Sauces like this are borderline products, so you might need to get your sauce lab-tested to ensure that it’s safe without refrigeration. If you already know that the sauce needs to be refrigerated, then it would not be allowed. You should call your health department to learn more.

    You need to become a regular food business, and you would not be able to make these items from home (you need access to a commercial kitchen). You can call your health department to learn how to get licensed as this type of business.

I’ve recently started a home bakery business adhering to these guidelines. My question…if all goods are baked in my TN kitchen, can I sell and ship them to other states or only within TN? Thanks for the guidance! :)

    Most states don’t allow interstate sales, but TN’s law doesn’t specify one way or another. It’s quite possible that you could ship interstate… you could find out for sure if you called up the Health Department (if you do, please let us know what you find out). You should be aware, though, that some states won’t allow you to sell to them, regardless of TN’s stance on the matter.

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