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Cottage Food Law

Massachusetts developed its law for “residential kitchens” in 2000, well before cottage food laws became common. Residential kitchens are considered “food establishments” (like their commercial counterparts), so it is harder to start a home food business in MA than it is in other states. However, there are fewer restrictions: there is no sales limit, and owners of residential kitchens can sell at any venue within the state.

Like most cottage food laws, the allowed foods are limited to non-perishable items, but most non-PHFs are allowed. Before getting started, a residential kitchen needs to get inspected and permitted by a local board of health, and some regions may require food safety training as well. Only members of the residential kitchen’s household can help with food preparation.


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Allowed Foods

Prohibited Foods
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


There is no sales limit

Only members of the household may help with preparation of the food.


Residential Kitchen Permit

You must apply for a permit from your local board of health. While the fees vary from one region to another, an annual permit is typically around $50 – $100.

Home Inspection

Before your permit application is approved, your kitchen must get inspected by a health official. The kitchen requirements are specified on page 3587 of the law.

Food Safety Course

Some regions require food safety training, such as the $125 ServSafe Manager Course or something equivalent.

Allergen Training Course

If you have to take a food safety course, you’ll also likely need to complete a $10 allergen training course.

Private Well Testing

If your water comes from a private source, it must get tested, which would incur extra fees.

Private Sewer Inspection

If you use a private sewage system, it must get inspected, which would incur extra fees.


Sample Label

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Forrager Cookie Company

123 Chewy Way, Cookietown, MA 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)


The kitchen must have a separate storage location for products related to the business.

There are actually a lot more rules pertaining to the kitchen environment, which are explained on page 3587 of the bill.


Department of Public Health
305 South Street
Jamaica Plain, MA 02130
Law Dates
October 2000
105 CMR 590

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Starting a cottage food business?


How To Start A Cottage Food Business