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New Jersey Can you legally sell food from home in New Jersey?

Cottage Food Law

New Jersey was the last state to adopt a cottage food law. After many unsuccessful attempts to pass a cottage food law, including many bills and a lawsuit, the health department finally created rules to allow cottage food businesses, which went into effect in October 2021.

New Jersey has a good cottage food law. It explicitly allows many types of nonperishable foods, and producers can request approval to sell even more types of nonperishable foods.

Producers can only sell their products directly to the end consumer, so they can’t sell through stores or wholesale. Shipping is not allowed, and producers can only sell up to $50,000 of products per year.

Producers needs to apply for a permit and take a food safety manager’s training course, which costs about $200 total. The permit must be renewed every two years.

New Jersey’s journey to a cottage food law was long and complicated. See the resources section of this page to learn the whole story.

Selling Where can you sell homemade food products?

When you are selling outside of your home (at farmers markets, events, farm stands, etc.), you must display your cottage food permit along with a sign which states “This food is prepared pursuant to N.J.A.C. 8:24-11 in a home kitchen that has not been inspected by the Department of Health”.

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Allowed Foods What food products can you sell from home?

Prohibited Foods

In the “syrups” category above, only sweet sorghum syrup is explicitly allowed.

In addition to the above allowed foods, you may be able to sell other nonperishable foods, but you need to first get approval from the health department.

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 How will your home food business be restricted?

Sales are limited to $50,000 per year

Business What do you need to do to sell food from home?

Food Safety Manager Training

Before you can apply for a permit, you must take a food safety manager training course, such as Learn2Serve’s Food Safety Manager Training, which can be completed online for $99.

Cottage Food Operator Permit

You must apply for a cottage food operator permit, which costs $100 and must be renewed every two years.

The application requires you to list each product that you will produce, along with the major allergens that they contain.

Private Water Source Testing

If your home uses a private water source, like a private well, you must get it tested before you can apply for your license.

Labeling How do you label cottage food products?

Sample Label

Chocolate Chip Cookies

"This food is prepared pursuant to N.J.A.C. 8:24-11 in a home kitchen that has not been inspected by the Department of Health"


John Baker

Forrager Cookie Company

Permit #: 12345

Issued in Cotton County


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


When you are selling outside of your home (at farmers markets, events, farm stands, etc.), you must display your cottage food permit along with a sign which states “This food is prepared pursuant to N.J.A.C. 8:24-11 in a home kitchen that has not been inspected by the Department of Health”.

Workplace Are there any home kitchen requirements?

You can find workplace requirements in the cottage food permit application.

Resources Where can you find more information about this law?

Department
Department of Health
Contacts

Public Health and Food Protection Program

Organization
Consumer, Environmental and Occupational Health Service
Department
NJ Department of Health
Email
phfpp@doh.nj.gov
Telephone
(609) 826-4935
Address
PO Box 369
Trenton, NJ 08625-0369
Law Dates
October 2021
53 N.J.R. 1711(a)

Many cottage food bills were introduced in New Jersey over the course of about 10 years, which were all shut down by Sen. Vitale. A few of them were A 2354, S 671, & A 4580.

New Jersey first started trying to pass a cottage food bill in 2009. The same bill (A1244 / S136) moved from one session to the next from 2009 to 2015, and it passed the assembly in later years.

There are many factors that could prevent a bill from passing, but in NJ there was only one: Senator Vitale, the Chairman for the Senate Health Committee. He single-handedly prevented bills (that otherwise had unanimous support) from being put up for a vote in the senate. Why? Because he did not personally agree with the bills, and he did not want bakeries to face increased competition.

Despite this, 2016 was a breakout year for cottage foods in New Jersey. Vitale’s solo mission to stop cottage foods in his state stirred up considerable controversy and media attention. A new cottage food bill (A3618 / S3292) was written, which was more specific and restrictive than the former ones. It would have allowed the sale of home-baked goods from home or at events, with a $50,000 annual sales limit. Because of the extreme circumstances, the group behind this bill got the former Red Tape Review Commission involved to help resolve the issue with Vitale. However, like the bill before it, this one passed the assembly unanimously, only to be stopped again by Vitale. The bill appeared again in 2018 as A2354 / S671.

After so many failed attempts, supporters (in particular, the New Jersey Home Bakers Association & the Institute for Justice) shifted gears and tried following in the footsteps of Minnesota and Wisconsin, by starting a petition and filing a lawsuit to allow the sale of homemade baked goods. Ultimately, the lawsuit didn’t come to a resolution, but likely influenced the eventual passage of their law.

In 2020, in addition to the lawsuit and yet another bill (A 4580), the health department published proposed rules to allow cottage food businesses. Because Sen. Vitale was concerned that the proposed rules would pass, he added some restrictions to A 4580 and for the first time, he let a cottage food bill come up for a vote in the Senate Health Committee. It easily passed through his committee, but it was not to be, because this time, the cottage food supporters strategically prevented the bill from moving forward, in hopes that the better health department rules would eventually get passed.

Over the course of a long process that lasted over a year, which included dozens of submitted comments and hundreds of official supporters, the health department’s rules were finally passed on July 12th, 2021, and they were published into law on October 4th, 2021.

Sen. Vitale did succeed in preventing legal cottage food businesses in his state for many years, but in the process, he unintentionally created massive awareness about the cottage food industry, which resulted in a ton of interest from home bakers in New Jersey to start their own cottage food businesses.

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Comments

I am looking to sell home grown oyster and shiitake mushrooms in Northern NJ. Are there any laws that would prevent me from doing this as a farmers market or flea market. Are mushrooms considered fresh uncut produce? Is it legal in NJ to sell home grown produce directly to the public. I have been growing them for myself for some time, but would like to sell them for some extra income, but I can’t seem to find any info on the legality of this in NJ. Thank for any help and nice website.

    This wouldn’t fall under the cottage food law, but it should be possible. You need to contact your ag dept to learn what you need to get — I don’t think you even need a permit from them. Alternatively, you could just ask the farmers market you want to sell at and they should know what you need… they probably have more requirements than the ag dept.

Under current law, would a New Jersey resident be able to sell their goods at a market in New York, where cottage food laws permit their products?

Hi
I am interested in finding out if cookies, cakes are going to be covered under the proposed bill. If these items are sold at small private stores that carry gourmet/specialty foods (non-chain) stores do the same type laws apply?
Thanks!

    There is currently no timeline… they are trying to get one of the bills into the next legislative session, and if they can get one or both in, then there should be a multi-month process of getting it passed. It could be awhile.

    ANY food product can be hazardous. Handling, ingredients, processing, manufacturing equipment and environment, storage, transportation, temperature, humidity, can all pose potential risks to introduce pathogens (e. coli, salmonella, listeria, etc) and spoilage (molds & yeasts etc) to a product…..whether you make a product at home or whether it’s made in a licensed and inspected facility.

    “Potentially hazardous” is just a term that has been adopted over time. Non-potentially hazardous items are significantly less hazardous than PHFs. Potentially hazardous items usually have proteins in them that will cause bacteria to grow within a few hours without temperature control, and these can be harmful. Non-PHF items may spoil over the course of days or weeks, but the mold they grow are generally not really harmful to people if consumed.

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