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.
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 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.
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.
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)
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.