Maine has had their “home food manufacturing” law in place since 1980, and it is still being used today. Although this law was created long before modern cottage food laws became popular, it is quite flexible and allows producers to sell many types of homemade food.
To sell homemade food, producers need to get a license and get their home kitchen inspected. Most types of shelf-stable products are allowed, but some items (like pickles and chocolate sauces) need to be tested and approved before they can be sold. Once a producer has their license, they have a lot of flexibility: they can sell at any venue and there is no sales limit.
Maine’s state law is one of the better cottage food laws in the country, but at least sixteen towns in in the state (the first being Sedgwick) have taken it a step farther — they have removed regulations from all local foods that are directly sold. Read more about it here and here.
In 2015, a couple “food freedom” bills were considered, but they did not pass. One of them (LD 925) was a more typical food freedom bill, in that it would have allowed the sale of any type of food, as long as it was sold directly at the producer’s home or at a social event. The other (LD 783) proposed to add the “Right To Food” as a constitutional amendment, which would have laid the groundwork for preventing regulation of homemade food. LD 783 was also considered in 2016, and it once again did not pass.
Some types of products, like acidified foods (salsas, pickles, etc.), need to be approved before they can be sold.
You cannot sell low-acid canned goods that are pressure canned at home.
The law specifies that “uncontrolled children” cannot be in your kitchen while you are making products.
Contact the Division of Quality Assurance & Regulations to get an application for a Home Food Processor License.
Before you can get your license, you need to get your home kitchen inspected by the Division of Quality Assurance & Regulations.
Most types of non-PHF products do not require testing, but some types of shelf stable products, like low-sugar jams, acidified foods (salsas, pickles, dressings, etc.) and chocolate sauces, need approval from the University of Maine’s School of Food and Agriculture. Product testing usually costs $26 or $39 per product, depending on the type of product. Learn more and find contact info here.
If you are not using a public sewer system, you need to get your septic tank tested before you can get a license.
If you want to sell at a farmers market, you need to get a Mobile Food Vendor license from the Division of Quality Assurance & Regulations.
Chocolate Chip Cookies
Forrager Cookie Company
123 Chewy Way, Cookietown, ME 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
NET WT 2 lb 4 oz (1.02 kg)
If you sell directly to a consumer from your home, you do not need to put a label on those products.
There are a number of workplace requirements listed in the law.
- Agriculture, Conservation & Forestry
- Contact this division to ask general questions and to get a license or home inspection
Quality Assurance & Regulations Division
- Job Title
- Extension Food Science Specialist
- University of Maine - School of Food and Agriculture
- 5735 Hitchner Hall
Orono, ME 04469-5735
- Contact Beth about product testing or general questions
- December 1980
- Home Food Manufacturing