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Massachusetts

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.

Selling

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

Limitations

There is no sales limit

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

Business

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.

Labeling

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)


Workplace

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.

Resources

Contacts
Department
Department of Public Health
Telephone
617-983-6712
Address
305 South Street
Jamaica Plain, MA 02130
Law Dates
October 2000
105 CMR 590
This page was last updated on

Comments

If i wanted to produce/sell a food product that is prohibited – would I need to outsource to a food manufacturer?

thanks!

i am looking to make Blue Cheese dressing to sell with the hope of eventually getting it into stores. Can i start in my own kitchen? Basic ingredients are Mayonnaise, sour cream and cheese.

My husband works as a cook at a restaurant. He has mentioned to the boss that I like baking and the boss is thinking about having me make desserts for the restaurant (cakes, pies, etc). I assumed I would be able to do this out of my home but I see there are lots of regulations. Do I need a permit or license? Do I have to be inspected? Is it even feasible for me to bake out of my home? Thanks for your time.

I have just completed the zoning process to have a residential kitchen in my home. I was granted zoning and a permit through my town. They however are saying that I am restricted to person to person sales. I have a retail store that wants to sell my pies, can I?

    Unfortunately, you can not sell in retail stores because your home is not routinely inspected. Only person to person sales is allowed.

I have a small farm and an ein. I want to make pet treats out of my home kitchen but can’t find any info regarding laws and requirements.

    The cottage food law only applies to human grade food. You can make pet treats as long as they are not meant for human consumption.

Wondering about delivery to a daycare center. I have a request to make simple sandwiches for a large center. It would include a sandwich, chips, whole fruit and a cookie. Is that considered “catering” which would not be allowed?

    This falls outside the cottage food guidelines and would be considered catering. Contact your LBOH to find out what permits you would need.

Where would I find the special rules about popcorn. Could you offer to sell popcorn at fairs or fundraisers from a cottage kitchen. What about to private parties?

    Pop corn is an approved cottage food, however, to sell them at fairs, parties, etc. you would need permit(s) from your LBOH.

Thanks for this information but just as an FYI, I am having trouble with my local BOH on the inclusion of butter in my buttercream. I see on your “allowed foods” under “candy” that you have it but it cannot be made with cream or eggs. my recipe has powdered egg whites, butter, sugar and flavoring. It is being being permitted without lab testing. I also know of people in neighboring towns with residential kitchens without this restriction. Is there a way to move this in my favor or is this a town mandated rule? TIA.

    Sorry to hear you’re having trouble. It’s listed because some, if not most, towns do allow it. Honestly there are so many hoops to jump through in MA, that I don’t really see why it shouldn’t be allowed. I can understand the restriction of eggs, but most standard buttercreams are very safe. However, I’m not sure if there’s anything you can do if you’re town is opposed. Perhaps you can try to use examples from other towns and get them talking to other inspectors.

Hi-

Our Moms group is going to show a movie, open to the public, on our town common this summer. The movie company can bring a popcorn maker and serve popcorn. Is this allowed?

    You should talk to the health dept about this, but I doubt it will be complicated to do this. If there is a charge for the popcorn, it would probably be more complicated. There are special licenses for things like popcorn… you don’t need to bother with the laws for residential kitchens.

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