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Wisconsin

Wisconsin is different from every other state in that they allow homemade canned goods, but they don’t allow homemade baked goods.  Also known as the “Pickle Bill”, this law was modeled after their neighboring state’s law, except that Minnesota’s law does allow baked goods as well as canned.

Wisconsin’s pickle bill is the most restrictive cottage food law in the United States.  Aside from the food limitations, producers can only have up to $5,000 of sales per year, and they may only sell at farmers markets and other community events.  All sales must be made in-person and go directly from the producer to the consumer.  Home producers are allowed to make jams, jellies, pickled goods, sauces, and any other canned goods that are acidic enough to be safe (needs a pH under 4.6).

However, there is no registration process or cost necessary to start selling.  The law exempts producers from needing to get a license, though the Department of Agriculture encourages sellers to test their product for safety and take some training to educate themselves on safe production practices.

Wisconsin tried passing an amendment (AB 182) in 2014, which would have increased the sales limit and allowed baked goods, but it did not pass.

Selling

A sign must be displayed at the place of sale that says “These canned goods are homemade and not subject to state inspection.”

Allowed Foods

All products need to have a pH level of 4.6 or below.  The Department of Agriculture recommends the use of a pH meter or lab testing.

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 $5,000 per year

Business

Although no training is required, sellers are encouraged to educate themselves about safe canning practices. More information can be found in the “Training” section of the Ag Department’s home canned foods page.

Labeling

Sample Label

Chocolate Chip Cookies

"This product was made in a private home not subject to state licensing or inspection"


Forrager Cookie Company

123 Chewy Way, Cookietown, WI 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


Produced on 10/31/2014


Workplace

Although there are no official workplace requirements, the Department of Agriculture encourages sellers to maintain safe sanitation practices in their kitchen and keep records of the products they produce.  More information can be found in the “Record-keeping” and “Sanitation” sections of the Ag Department’s home canned foods page.

Resources

Contacts

Wisconsin Department of Agriculture

Department
Trade & Consumer Protection, Division of Food Safety
Email
food@wi.gov
Telephone
608-224-4682
Address
2811 Agriculture Drive
P.O. Box 8911
Madison, WI 53708-8911
Law Dates
February 2010
AB 229
This page was last updated on

Comments

Our town has an online farmer’s market and homemade goods selling page on Facebook. Would that qualify as a public venue for selling canned goods? Of course pick up or delivery of product would be person to person. I haven’t done it yet, but would like to participate if it’s legal.

    I think that if the sale transaction happens online, then it wouldn’t be allowed. Listing your business there and doing sales at the farmers market would be legal.

Hello,
I am wanting to sell handmade wafer paper flowers that are placed on cakes. The wafer paper itself is edible/food safe. Can I sell them from my own kitchen as food safe, but not edible?

    Since you’re not producing something intended for human consumption, you wouldn’t be using a food law (as you already know, those wouldn’t be allowed under this law). I’m really not sure what the requirements for food safe products are, or homemade crafts in general. I think you should talk to the health dept to make sure you’re not crossing some kind of line.

I make homemade vanilla. It is not “canned” and contains alcohol. It is sealed. I’m having trouble finding regulations surrounding this.

I have a small commercial coffee roaster and roast out of my home. Can I sell fresh roasted coffee at a farmer’s market? If yes, do I package whole beans at home? What if I need to grind for customers? Grind at home or bring a grinder to the market? Thanks for your time.
p.s. I live in Wisconsin but live on the Michigan/Wisconsin boarder. Do the same answers to the questions above apply to both Michigan and Wisconsin?

If you build a home addition and create a separate ‘commercial’ residential kitchen that could be inspected, would this be legal?

    In some states that is legal… I’m not sure about WI. It can be really expensive though… most states require a bathroom to be in the same building, plus hundreds of other requirements.

Can I sell these approved canned goods to my CSA customers since I am not meeting all of them face-to-face. They pick there boxes up at a separate location. It looks like if the new bill passes then it shouldn’t be a problem. Just wondering about the time being.

If the cookie bill is passed in the House will dry mixes still be illegal to prepare and sell from a home kitchen?

    The law above is already in effect, but I assume you’re referring to AB 182, which would allow other types of food (like baked goods). That bill just passed the Senate and now needs to move on to the House. Assuming that it does pass (which is probable, but certainly not definite), my guess is that it could take awhile to go into effect: possibly as late as the beginning of 2015, and possibly as early as July.

I don’t understand the label graphic. Why is a graphic for a baked good (cookies) used when it’s illegal to sell baked goods?

    Good point! I don’t know why I didn’t even think about that. It’s the sample label for every state, modified to show what components are necessary in the state. Wisconsin is the only one that strangely doesn’t allow baked goods (which I hope they change soon). Anyway, thanks for pointing it out and I’ll work on changing it for this page.

I was informed that people can sell any kind of food out of their home in the state of Wisconsin, as long as they don’t advertise their “business”, ie. putting up flyers, printing ads, etc. So, people can make things and sell them to others, but it has to be through word of mouth only. Is this true?

    My friend has asked me to do cupcakes for her daughter’s birthday party. I would be happy to do the cupcakes, as she is a friend, I love to do it, and she doesn’t have time to do it herself (2 kids under 3). She wants to pay me, but because I am not licensed and bake from home, I would only accept a donation (I am not going into business- I already have a job). Am I doing something illegal?

    In addition, she has a sister who is looking for a wedding cake- her baker (a relative) backed out last minute. I’m going to turn the job down- even though I feel sorry that someone backed out of her special day. Is baking a wedding cake for a donation illegal?

    If it is illegal to do these things, is there a law in the works that will change it? I keep thinking of school bake sales, birthday parties, etc.

    If by “donation” you mean they can pay you whatever they want, then this would be technically illegal, because this is for your personal profit. Baked goods sold for donations that support a nonprofit are typically exempt from the rules.

    However, since this is a one-time thing and for a friend, I don’t think you should worry about it too much. There is a bill on the table (AB 182), but it’s not advancing in the legislature right now.

I have thought about making fondant cupcake decorations. I would use store bought fondant instead of home made. Is there a way to do this legally? Maybe if I included some kind of label?

    Wisconsin only allows home canned goods. Other types of food items are not allowed to be prepared at home for a business. Even though you’re using store-bought fondant, you’d probably still need to prepare you decorations in a commercial kitchen.

I live in the state of WI and have been reading through all laws/bills (passed) pertaining to food preparation in the home. When it comes to repackaging existing food items, I cannot find anything that mentions that. An example would be, buying ham all ready prepared, slicing and repackaging into a different product. No cooking is performed and the product was all ready created. Looking to recreate a Lunchable type meal.

    It is possible to resell bulk items with much less overhead (especially prepackaged items)… you may only need a seller’s permit to do so. But if you are actually slicing a ham, then you are “preparing” that item, even though it came from a commercial kitchen. Because you are preparing it and it’s not a cottage food, this type of activity still needs to be done in a commercial kitchen and at that point you would be a regular food business. You won’t be able to find too much specific info online, and I’d recommend calling your local health dept.

    So, if I’m reading this right (and the post below this one). I could not create any type of “food in a jar” type mixes which takes already prepared ingredients (noodles, spices, flour, etc.) and package it into sterile mason jars and sell. AND, even if this type of product WAS allowed I could not sell it on Etsy or any other online venue. Correct?

    Strangely, that’s all correct. You are still considered “preparing” the items even though you’re only assembling them. I think this is because you are handling them in an uninspected environment. And these items “made” in a home wouldn’t be able to be sold online unless an amendment to the law allowed it. It’s likely that even with a good amendment, you wouldn’t be able to ship out-of-state with an Etsy sale.

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