Maryland passed a very restrictive cottage food law (SB 550) in 2012, which limited sales to farmers markets and public events. Then from 2018 – 2020, three amendments significantly improved the law. In 2018, HB 1106 allowed other in-person, direct sales in the state, including mail order sales. In 2019, SB 290 allowed sales at retail stores and food co-ops. And in 2020, HB 1017 allowed producers to replace their home address with an ID number on their product labels.
Maryland’s cottage food law is still fairly restrictive, especially since it limits producers to $25,000 of sales per year, and only allows specific types of non-perishable foods. However, the health department does not require a permit, inspection, or training (unless selling at retail stores), so it is very easy to get started and use this law.
Farmers can also get an On-Farm Home Processing License to sell up to $40,000 of other types of food products, like pickles, dried fruit, and hot sauces.
The law does not specifically state that online sales are allowed, but the allowance of mail delivery suggests that the intent of the law is to support online businesses.
If you are a farmer, you can get an On-Farm Home Processing License to sell certain food items to other venues, like restaurants and retail stores.
Dry goods (spice blends, baking mixes, tea blends, etc) must use commercially-processed ingredients.
Chocolate-covered items (pretzels, graham crackers, etc) must use commercially-manufactured chocolate.
Only hard candies are allowed. Soft candy (e.g. chocolate, caramel, fudge, etc) is not allowed.
Honey must be unflavored.
If you are a farmer, you can get an On-Farm Home Processing License to sell up to $40,000 of other types of food products, like pickles, dried fruit, and hot sauces.
If you are a farmer, you can get an On-Farm Home Processing License to sell up to $40,000 of certain types of food products.
If you want to sell your products through retail stores, you must apply through this online form.
In addition to your food safety certificate and product labels (details below), you will need to submit all retail locations you plan to sell to. Optionally, you can request an ID number so that you don’t have to include your home address on your labels.
There is no cost to apply.
If you want to sell your products through retail stores, you must take an ANSI-accredited food safety course, such as Learn2Serve’s food handler training for $7. The 2-hour course can be completed online.
You can submit your completed course certificate through the Cottage Food Business Request form.
If you want to sell your products through retail stores, you must submit all of your labels to the health department.
You must submit your labels through the Cottage Food Business Request form.
Here is some info about state sales tax in Maryland. You may also need to collect local sales taxes.
Chocolate Chip Cookies
"Made by a cottage food business that is not subject to Maryland's food safety regulations." (10-point type)
Forrager Cookie Company
123 Chewy Way, Cookietown, MD 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 don’t want to put your home address on your labels, you can request an ID number from the health department. You can then put your ID number and phone number on your labels, in place of your home address. There is no cost to get an ID number.
If you sell at retail stores, your labels for those products must also include:
- Phone number
- Email address
- The date the product was made
For more information, you can read this cottage food labeling & packaging guidance.