Unlike most states, Iowa allows home cooks to sell most types of foods, including perishable products. After an update in 2022 (HF 2431), Iowa is the only state to allow products that contain some types of meat and poultry that are purchased.
Home food processing establishments can sell their items at any venue, but they are limited to $50,000 of sales per year. An annual license and inspection are required.
In addition to this law, Iowa has a cottage food law that allows home cooks to sell almost any kind of non-perishable food without special licensing. However, but products can only be sold directly to consumers (no indirect sales at retails stores). The cottage food law also allows producers to sell acidified foods (pickles, salsas, sauces, etc), whereas this law does not.
You can sell most types of food products, including perishable ones.
Here are ALL of the items that you cannot sell:
- Food items that contain meat or poultry, unless:
- Acidified foods (pickles, salsas, sauces, etc)**
- Low-acid canned foods (e.g. canned green beans)
- Food items that have been cured or smoked to preserve the food (curing/smoking only for flavor is allowed)
- Unpasteurized fruit or vegetable juice
- Raw sprout seeds
- Food items containing any kind of fish, shellfish, or game animals
- Alcoholic beverages
- Bottled water
- Packaged ice
- Consumable hemp products
- Food that will be further processed by a food processing plant
- Perishable foods packaged using reduced oxygen packaging
- Grade “A” milk or milk products
* To clarify the exemption for meat: you can sell products that are made with purchased meat or poultry, IF the meat or poultry was not processed in a USDA facility. This would include meat that is processed by your local butcher or the meat section of a grocery store. Generally, you are NOT able to use meat that arrives pre-packaged (and ready for sale) at a store.
** Although you can’t sell acidified foods under this law, you can use Iowa’s cottage food law to sell them directly to consumers.
Pets are never allowed in your kitchen or in any room where food for your business is stored.
Sales must be recorded, and the record must be made available if the Department of Inspections and Appeals requests it.
You need to get a Home Food Processing Establishment License from the Department of Inspections and Appeals, which costs $50 each year.
You must get your home kitchen inspected before starting you business.
If you do not use a public water system, your private well must be tested annually. You must maintain a record of your water tests.
Chocolate Chip Cookies
"This product was produced at a home food processing establishment"
Forrager Cookie Company
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)
If you sell perishable food products (items that require refrigeration), you must include an expiration date on those labels.
There are many workplace requirements in the law.
- Department of Inspections and Appeals
- Lucas State Office Building, Third Floor
321 East 12th Street
Des Moines, Iowa 50319-0083
Food & Consumer Safety Bureau
In 2016, the term for these businesses changed from “home food establishments” to “home bakeries”. Then in 2022, the term changed again to “home food processing establishments.