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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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New Jersey Forum Got questions? Join the discussion

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Comments

David, regarding existing NJ laws, I believe your statements pertain only to wholesalers. A person is permitted to make and sell homemade products direct to end consumers (retail) provided a sign is posted stating the products were produced in a home kitchen.

    Bill, where is this info coming from? Is there any documentation, either within existing law or produced by the ag or health dept to verify this? I haven’t been successful at finding any info online that would suggest that homemade food can be legally sold in NJ.

I really dont understand the concept of no law. If there is no law, what law would I be breaking?
Are there any updates as to when this might be passed?

    There are fairly complicated laws in every state that strictly regulate the way that food may be processed and sold. New Jersey has “no law” to override that and allow someone to use their home kitchen for a food business.

    There are some people in NJ that have been trying to get a cottage food law passed for years, so who knows when they’ll succeed. Technically it could happen by the end of this year.

    You typically need to have some kind of permit to sell any kind of food or beverage, but I really don’t know how vending machines are handled. You should contact your health dept for more info.

Does this include lemonade (from a mix)? Are we allowed to buy prewrapped Rice Krispy treats or cookies to sell at a garage sale?

    NJ doesn’t have a law, so nothing homemade is allowed to be sold. If you want to resell commercially-produced and individually-packaged items at a garage sale as a one-time thing, I don’t think you need to worry too much about the laws.

Hi, I was wondering if you are allowed to bake cakes to donate. I was searching the internet but couldn’t find any information on it. Thank you.

What are the actual penalties for selling baked goods from your home? I’m assuming a person’s website will be shut down, but are there additional penalities?

    In some cases, health depts have leveraged over $1,000 in fines. In others, they just ask someone to stop. It’s probably the latter and more about what you feel is morally right rather than whether or not you could get in trouble.

Can I make cookies in my home kitchen in New Jersey to sell on-line, at flea markets, and to retail stores? I heard that this wasn’t allowed and I need to bake in a commercial kitchen to sell to the public….is this true?

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