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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

I am a coach for Phoenix. We are a Special Olympics Minnesota team. I would like to have a bake sale to help earn money for our team. Can I do this in Minnesota? Thank you.

I am interested in making human food grade dog biscuits to sell at local farmers markets and through a local swap and shop Facebook group. I am very confused if this is allowed? And what steps legally I would need to take. Thank you for any input!

I make wedding cakes and I want to be able to sell them to customers. Most venues require the cakes to be from a licensed bakery. I’m having a hard time finding the type of license I need and what steps I need to take to make it legal. I would fall under the cottage food industry. I have taken the food safety class through the UofM.

    It used to be illegal to sell homemade cakes, and maybe this is why some of the venues have this rule. It’s possible that they would change their stance if they were aware of the cottage food law. I’ve found that many venues don’t actually care where a cake comes from, although they may have this rule in the books. If they really do require a cake from a licensed facility, then you can’t use the cottage food law. Instead, you need to use a commercial kitchen and go through a different process for getting licensed. http://forrager.com/faq/#commercial

I want to make eggrolls and sell them in a national grocery store. I don’t know how I would get started on the business side, just the food side. Do you have any tips or pointers?

    My tip would be to try selling them in a non-national grocery store first, like a local market or something. Your business and business model, including demand for your product, should be thoroughly proven before trying to position your product in a large store.

    You will need to use a commercial kitchen to produce your egg rolls, and you should talk to the health dept (or maybe ag dept) about how to get licensed to sell them.

An individual has contacted several cottage food producers, wanting them to sell on commission through their brick and mortar store front. I told them this was not allowed, I believe I am right, and he is wrong. Can you tell me who is right..Thanks In Advance

My fiancé is looking to sell Cheesecake. He works in fine dining and loves baking. I noticed that it seems to be a food that is prohibited? What can he do to sell his cheesecakes? His family owns the fine dining restaurant he works at, so would it be okay if he used their commercial kitchen? or what can be done as it’d definitely be more convenient for making food at home.

    I don’t think that would be allowed (even if you did take the training course), because it has cream in it, but you should contact the ag dept to confirm. If you can’t use this law, then you’d need to use a commercial kitchen to make your products.