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cottage food community

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 8/4/2015


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

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Comments

I would like to start selling chocolate candy at the Farmers Market in Superior Wi. So I need some guidance on what I need to do…like what licenses and etc. I would need to apply for and any other info I may need to do to start selling my product. Thank you!!

    I should add that my farmers market does require a food license to sell any food items, which is unfortunate. But not sure how to apply for whatever I need.
    Thank you so much for your help

    You need to produce your candy in a commercial kitchen. The ag dept licenses commercial food businesses, so you’ll need to call them to learn more.

Hi!
I make a delicious homemade barbque sauce however, I use ingredients such as ketchup and worchester sauce. These sauces are already permafrost by companies such as Heinz. How would I go about listing them on the ingredient list? please let me know. Thank you!

I would like to know what the rules are for selling gum paste flowers from my apartment in WI. As they dry like porcilin, and are not eaten, I am not sure if they fall into an edible item but would rather be safe than sorry. I am intending to lable them with “not intended for consumption” along with all the ingredients used in making them so it is clear that they are safe to be placed on cakes. That is if the law allows for the sale of them to begin with.

    I’m not sure, in this case. If they are intended for consumption, then I know they can’t be homemade, but since you’re just producing inedible decorations, there may be fewer requirements. I’m unfamiliar with the requirements for selling items intended to be placed on food, and I recommend you contact your health dept.

    Fresh, uncut herbs (and other produce) should be fine, but I don’t think you can sell home-dried herbs, since that requires processing. Sometimes ag depts are very lenient for dried herbs, but I don’t know if that’s true for Wisconsin or your area… you should check with your ag dept about this.

When selling canned foods at a farmer’s market, does it have to be your own produce? I go cherry picking for example and create pie fillings. Can I sell these since it is not my produce or does it need to come directly from my farm?

What if I “give away” my baked goods? I’m thinking of doing something like having people buy a can of pop or bottle of water at $4-5 and getting the option to take a dozen homemade cookies for “free”. Or is this work around accounted for?

    I’ve heard of this kind of hack a number of times. It’s a classic technique used by school kids who “sell plates” to fundraise, and then those plates just so happen to have brownies on them. The health dept usually turns a blind eye to something like that.

    However, most states actually specify that food can’t even be given away unless it’s for a charitable cause. It would not be okay for a hotel to promote their business with homemade cookies, and it wouldn’t be okay to promote your drink business that way either.

    I don’t know if the workaround is fully accounted for, but ultimately, in my mind, it comes down to motive: are you trying to sell drinks or cookies? If you’re trying to sell drinks, then you shouldn’t need the cookies. And if you’re trying to sell homemade cookies, please realize that there are laws in-place that prohibit that activity. You might not agree with the law, but that doesn’t change the law, right?

I have baked several Wedding cakes for friends & family. My grandson is getting married & wants me to bake his cake, but the place where he is getting married & holding the reception says it has to be a licensed baker. How to I obtain this?

    There might be an exemption for baked items that are donated, rather than being sold. You should call your ag or health dept to confirm that the venue really does need you to be licensed.

    The problem is that a food establishment cannot offer homemade items, though many food establishments are probably willing to overlook that. To get officially licensed, you will need to produce the item in a commercial kitchen and get a license from your health dept. It’s actually a fairly complicated and expensive process, where you go through training and specify your production processes and plans. This process is intended for food businesses.

    Since you are not setting up a business or selling your cake, you might ask the venue if it would be sufficient to simply make your cake in a commercial kitchen (probably by renting it), without needing to become officially licensed with the health dept. You might even be able to use their commercial kitchen, assuming they have one.

Is it illegal to serve a wedding cake prepared by a bakery without some kind of permit?…How do I obtain a permit if one is necessary?

    Are you serving the cake as a form of catering business? If you’re making money on it, then I think you need to have a permit from the health dept, but I’m not really sure.

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