Massachusetts Can you legally sell food from home in Massachusetts?
Cottage Food Law
Since this page was last updated, Boston created an ordinance to allow residential kitchens, so now Boston residents can use the 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.
Selling Where can you sell homemade food products?
Allowed Foods What food products can you sell from home?
Limitations How will your home food business be restricted?
Only members of the household may help with preparation of the food.
Business What do you need to do to sell food from home?
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.
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.
Some regions require food safety training, such as the $125 ServSafe Manager Course or something equivalent.
If you have to take a food safety course, you’ll also likely need to complete a $10 allergen training course.
If your water comes from a private source, it must get tested, which would incur extra fees.
If you use a private sewage system, it must get inspected, which would incur extra fees.
Labeling How do you label cottage food products?
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 Are there any home kitchen requirements?
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 Where can you find more information about this law?
- Department of Public Health
- 305 South Street
Jamaica Plain, MA 02130
Food Protection Program
- October 2000
- 105 CMR 590
Okay I have two questions… what if the food is trail mix and is made in an industrial community kitchen? Does it still fall under the Cottage Food Laws?
The cottage food law only pertains to items produced in a home kitchen. Items that are commercially-produced must adhere to different and stricter regulations.
My product that I would like to sell and prepare in my home kitchen and sell at farmer’s markets is handmade pierogi (that contain dairy and would be sold frozen). Would this possible under the cottage food laws?
If they require refrigeration (and it sounds like they would), then you can’t use the cottage food law. http://forrager.com/faq/#commercial
I’m interested in trying to sell my homemade Kale Soup. I’m in Acushnet, and for now, it’d be to potentially only local markets and stores. Where do I begin???
Unless you are will to sell it as a dry soup mix (in which case you’d use the law above), you need to start here: http://forrager.com/faq/#commercial
what would micro greens fall under? Agricultural or cottage food laws?
Agricultural. The cottage food laws apply to food items processed/prepared in a home kitchen.
I have a permit from the health department from my Massachusetts town and am prepared to begin selling my product, made in the home, to local retail outlets for sale. Do I need to get a Food Processing and/or Distribution at Wholesale license from the state or am I set with the permit from the town? It’s a bit confusing.
It would be good to check with your health dept about it, but I don’t think you’d need that state license, which is probably designed for food establishments.
If I am making my baked goods out of a commercial kitchen and have the permit, am I covered to sell at craft fairs and venues like that?
Yes, but in that case, you’d have a commercial license from the health dept. This cottage food law is for food made at home.
Are you certain that mail order is prohibited?
Under Chapter 9 “Distribution and Sales” it says, “Opportunities to sell direct to consumers include fairs, shows, outdoor markets, and mail order catalogs.” Furthermore, section 5 of that chapter is entirely devoted to the mail order topic. Therefore, it is legal to ship goods produced in a residential kitchen within the state of Mass, correct?
Most of that guide is geared to regular food processors, not residential kitchens. If you look in Chapter 4, you’ll see the line about mail order: “Mail order sales from residential kitchens are also prohibited…” Thanks for asking though — the rules do change sometimes and it’s always good to double-check.
Would home made vanilla extract be allowed?
I’m not sure because the law is not specific enough. Try calling your ag dept to see if this falls under the ruling. There may also be special alcohol licensing requirements.
our small church,22members, have been having church suppers with food made in members kitchens for 235 years and a lot of it sold to the public.In all this time NO ONE has ever gotten sick. Why are churches like ours be penalized ?
It’s simply against the law now (it wasn’t decades ago). A lot of churches now have commercial kitchens so they can legally make food.
Mary Katherine Sullivan
Does the cottage food laws only pertain to baked goods? I am interested in starting a business in selling herbal tinctures, herbal salves, and herbal teas in MA. I cannot find a reliable source on the internet which tells me any details about laws in MA which pertain to selling medicinal herbs processed in any way.
It’s not limited to only baked goods, but those medicinal items would not be allowed anyway. You probably won’t find any info online and should call your health dept instead.