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MO Cottage Food Laws

This topic contains 5 replies, has 1 voice, and was last updated by  David Crabill 7 years, 5 months ago.

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    I am interested in finding out if I open under this law if I would be able to supply goodies to the schools. Under this law am I considered to be a business? Under this law can I hand out flyers, business cards, advertise in the paper, etc.? I understand that I am allowed to create a Face Book page and advertise this way and this is great; however, I would like to know if I have other options?

    If you could clear up my questions then I can move forward with my plans of getting my business open. I already have in place at my house an additional kitchen that I have a three compartment sink, mop and hand sinks and separate entrance to this kitchen. To open as a commercial bakery the Health Dept wants me to swap where my mop and hand sinks are, install another hot water heater (although the one I have for the entire house is an 80 gallon one that is normally installed in apartment housing), get a commercial refrigerator, and have an indirect drain line via a floor drain. In order to do all this I am going to have to have an electrician to add another electrical box as the box I have for the house there is not any room to add another heater and if the commercial refrigerator is 220 need more breakers and a plumber to install the floor drain and move the sinks (although the sinks should be simply turning water off, moving and reconnecting). All in all if I can re do all that they want me to do then I am a legal business and I know then that I can do all of the above. But if I can do what I have asked in the first paragraph then I am good to go with the MO Cottage Food Laws.

    Thank you in advance for any information that you can provide to me on this issue.

    Margie Downs


    David Crabill

    Margie, setting up a commercial kitchen in your home is definitely complicated and not many people do it. However, if you can’t get access to another commercial kitchen, or if working out of your home is a must, then putting a commercial kitchen in your home will be the only way to have an unrestricted food business.

    A cottage food operation sounds like it might almost be too limited for you, given that you’ve already given consideration to do all that to your kitchen. As you may know, the cottage food law is different for each county in MO, and one may not even exist in yours. You need to check with the health department.

    Without knowing the specifics about your cottage food law, I can tell you that most only let you make food from your home kitchen (making food from any other kitchen would not be allowed). You’d also be limited to non-potentially hazardous foods at the most, you won’t be able to make items that need to be refrigerated. A cottage food operation is a registered business and you can advertise however you want, but all your sales would probably need to be direct (in-person). So while would could sell at a school, you couldn’t sell to a school where they would resell the food. If you’re talking about a school fundraiser, then you should know that most states provide an exemption for religious and charitable events where no license is needed.


    Joan Rudloff

    What constitutes a cottage business? When does baking for friends and family become something else? People give food gifts all the time. When does it become a business? What are the parameters? What does the state say a cottage business is? I just want to know how I can tell if I need a license and all that? No one has said any of this anywhere that I can find. There has to be line that one crosses that says, in the state or county’s mind, this is no longer for friends and family, it needs to be regulated.
    I’ll be calling the Jackson County health inspector who handles Raytown on Monday to see what she says too, Just curious on your take. Are there fines if you cross the line and they catch you? Can’t find that anywhere either.
    thanks for your patience.


    David Crabill

    Joan, baking for friends and family becomes a business when you start selling your homemade food items to them, or doing monetary transactions for your goods elsewhere. There is no technical definition of a cottage food business, but basically, it’s a for-profit business that sells homemade food products.

    If the health dept finds that you are running an illegal business, then they may fine you or may just give you a warning. You’re not supposed to be doing it, but they know that a lot of people do (many of whom do not know that it’s illegal to sell homemade foods), so oftentimes they’re lenient at first.



    I live in Florissant Mo. The St. Louis county Health Dept. referred me to your website, I’m guessing, because they don’t really know the answers to my questions about Cottage food laws. In the past, I’ve been told by people at Florissant city hall that I’m not allowed to produce and sell food items out of my home kitchen. Is that true? I want to make cookies and crumb cakes, which are allowed according to your website. What should I do if I get the same answer from the people at the Florissant city hall? Is there a class that I can attend that specifically addresses Cottage food laws in St. Louis county Mo.? Everything about these so called “laws” seems purposefully vague and loaded with potential legal landmines for the majority of us without a legal background. Any help or advice would truly be appreciated.


    David Crabill

    Carole, my understanding is that a health dept cannot regulate a cottage food operation. It is possible, I suppose, that a city hall could prevent your business, even though the health dept cannot.

    If they say no, I’d recommend making sure that they’re aware of the cottage food law — many govt depts are not. Also, it might help to communicate with other cottage food operations, a few of which have listed themselves on Forrager. You can also contact other health depts to learn how they deal with cottage food operations.

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