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Maryland

Maryland passed a very restrictive cottage food law (SB 550) in 2012, which limited sales to farmers markets and public events. In 2018, an amendment (HB 1106) passed to allow other in-person, direct sales in the state, including mail order sales. In 2019, an amendment (SB 290) passed to allow sales at retail stores and food co-ops.

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.

Selling

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.

See a directory of farmers markets on this interactive map.

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.

Starting a cottage food business?

DOWNLOAD THIS FREE GUIDE

Top 10 Mistakes To Avoid When Starting A Cottage Food Business

(Some of them just might surprise you!)

Allowed Foods

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.

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

Sales are limited to $25,000 per year

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.

Business

Food Safety Course

If you sell your products through retail stores, you must take an ANSI-accredited food safety course, which usually costs about $15 and can be completed online in a few hours. You can submit your food safety certificate through this online form.

Product labels

If you sell your products through retail stores, you must submit all of your labels to the health department. You can submit your labels through this online form.

Sales Tax

Here is some info about state sales tax in Maryland. You may also need to collect local sales taxes.

Labeling

Sample Label

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)


For sales at retail stores, you must also include:

  • Your business’ phone number
  • Your business’ email address
  • The date the product was made

If you make nutrition claims (e.g. low-fat) on your labels, they must include nutrition information and adhere to the federal labeling requirements.

For more information, you can read this labeling guidance page.

Resources

Contacts
Department
Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene
Email
[email protected]
Telephone
(410) 767-8400
Fax
(410) 333-8931
Address
6 St. Paul Street, Suite 1301
Baltimore, MD 21202
Law Dates
October 2012
SB 550
October 2018
HB 1106
October 2019
SB 290

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Starting a cottage food business?

DOWNLOAD THIS FREE GUIDE

Top 10 Mistakes To Avoid When Starting A Cottage Food Business

(Some of them just might surprise you!)

Comments

My sister and I would like to sell brownies and pies. Would it be best to do an online business and some public events to see how the products sell.

Hi,
I’m from MD and thinking about selling fried snacks. The snacks would consist of potato chips, fried lentil/rice fritters and deep fried items and stored in air-tight packaging. I couldn’t find any regulations regarding them, the list mentioned non-hazardous baked goods, but not regarding fried goods. Please let me know if the items fall under Cottage Food Law to be sold without any license/commercial kitchen requirement.

    Those do not fall under the cottage food law, but I’d recommend that you call the health dept and ask about how to sell those. It may be simpler to get licensed for a mobile food cart, and to prepare your fried snacks in that.

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