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Minnesota

Cottage Food Law

Minnesota passed a new law in 2015 (SF 5) which greatly improves their former cottage food law, which used to be one of the most restrictive in the nation. Cottage food operations can now sell most types of non-potentially hazardous foods from home and at some local markets, and they can sell up to $18,000 of products per year. Before starting their business, an operation needs to register with the ag department and take a food safety training course.

In 2013, a couple Minnesota bakers aligned with the Institute of Justice to bring a lawsuit to the State Department of Agriculture, which hoped to prove that the ag department doesn’t have the right to limit homemade food sales. It was the first time a lawsuit had been created to improve a cottage food law. Despite their compelling video to gain support, the case was dismissed by a state court. Although the case was eventually reinstated, it doesn’t appear that the Institute of Justice intends to press the case further, now that the cottage food law is in place.

Selling

“Events” only refers to community events: you cannot sell your products at other types of events.

You can sell online, but you cannot ship products to customers. All deliveries must be delivered by you personally (for instance, a family member could not deliver a product for you).

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

Prohibited Foods

All canned goods must have a pH of 4.6 or below, and all products need to be classified as non-potentially hazardous. If you are not sure if one of your products is potentially hazardous, you should contact the ag department for more information.

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 $18,000 per year
To sell up to $18,000 per year, you must pay $50 for your registration
Sales are limited to $5,000 per year
If you do not make more than $5,000 per year, you can register for free

You cannot set up your cottage food operation as an LLC. In addition, you cannot start a cottage food operation if you run another type of business out of your home.

Business

Food Handlers Training

All cottage food operations need to take a food handlers training course before registering, which is very easy, as it only consists of reading the information in the document. It’s possible that the ag department will eventually develop a more robust training course for operations who sell over $5,000 of products per year. Training must be renewed every three years.

The University of Minnesota Extension has also created a series of Farmers Market Academies around the state, which fulfills the training requirement and also provides additional info and good networking opportunities. The academy costs $35.

Registration

All cottage food operations must register with the ag department, regardless of how much they sell per year. However, operations with $5,000 or less of annual sales can register for free, while operations with more than $5,000 of annual sales need to pay a $50 registration fee. Registrations need to be renewed every year and always expire on December 31st.

Sales amounts are calculated based on the prior year’s sales — therefore, your first registration is free and you only need to pay for renewals if you sold more than $5,000 of products in the past year.

Zoning Approval

Before registering, you need to prove that your local ordinances will allow your business. Cities or counties can prevent cottage food operations from starting in their area. Contact the department that enforces zoning regulations in your area to get approval for your cottage food operation.

Business License

You may need to get a business license before starting your business. Contact the department in your city or county that issues business licenses to find out if you need one.

Only individuals — not businesses — can use the cottage food law, so you cannot establish an LLC. In addition, if you run any other form of business out of your home, you are not eligible to start a cottage food operation.

Sales Tax

You may be required to collect sales tax on the products you sell. You should call the Minnesota Department of Revenue at 651-556-3000 to learn more.

Labeling

Sample Label

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Forrager Cookie Company

123 Chewy Way, Cookietown, MN 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


Produced on 10/27/2020


You must also place a placard at the point of sale with this statement: “”These products are homemade and not subject to state inspection.” If you sell your products online, you must include this statement on the website. For those producing canned goods, the statement must start with “These canned goods…” instead of “These products…”

Resources

Contacts
Department
Department of Agriculture
Email
mda.cottagefood@state.mn.us
Telephone
651-201-6027
Law Dates
May 2002
SF 3256
August 2004
SF 2428
July 2015
SF 5

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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

    Anything that requires refrigeration: cream pies, custards, cheesecakes, cakes with cream cheese frosting, cakes with meringue frostings (possibly), casseroles, quiches, chicken pot pies, etc.

    It says that if you already run a business out of your home you can not run a “cottage food” business or sell food from your home. Would not this include selling Avon? Just want to be sure…

    Wow, look at me totally forgetting that and not even checking what I wrote up there! So sorry about that…

    I’m trying to remember where I got that from. I think it came from this: http://www.mda.state.mn.us/licensing/licensetypes/cottagefood/cflfaqs.aspx

    Those FAQs state that a business cannot start a CFO, and that may be why I concluded that a CFO cannot be run from a home that’s also running another business. If that’s the only source I have for that conclusion (can’t remember), then I’m going to change my mind and say that I do think that an individual can start a CFO and also start another business from home, so long as the other business isn’t starting the CFO (it has to be it’s own thing).

    But I’m still not sure, and I’d suggest you contact the ag dept for the final word. Could you let me know what you find out? Again, very sorry if this info is not correct!

What food items would not be subject to the Cottage Law? I assume fresh fruit and vegetables, such as carrots and peas, would not fall under the Cottage law do to them not being processed in any way. What other categories would also not be subject to this law?

I want to sell my homemade vanilla extract. The Cottage Food Law states you can prepare and sell only NON-potentially hazardous food. My question is, since vanilla extract is made with alcohol can I sell it according to this law or does it fall under the potentially hazardous category?

    Although vanilla extract is a non-PHF, it might not be allowed under this law, or it might require extra licensing since it’s alcoholic. I haven’t heard an official ruling about extracts, so you should contact the ag dept about this.

How about dog treats? Does this fall under the cottage law or do you have to register somewhere else. I’m talking about small quantities and non-corporate. Thanks in advance!

I want to sell dried herbs for tea. It seems that this falls under the cottage law as long as I sell them directly to the end-user–is that true? I am also confused about whether I can repackage and sell herbs grown by someone besides myself.