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

Cottage Food Law

LAW UPDATE

Since this page was last updated, New York’s ag department has changed the rules to improve their cottage food law.

Most importantly, indirect sales through retail stores are now allowed.

Please read the ag department’s website for the current rules.

New York’s law for home food processors comes with some restrictions, but for those who fall within the law’s requirements, it is fairly easy and inexpensive to start a home food business.

Homemade food can be sold directly from home and at events (like farmers markets), but it cannot be sold indirectly through stores and restaurants. Items can be sold online and shipped in-state. Also, there is no sales limit for those selling under this law.

A number of food products are allowed to be sold, but New York has specific restrictions that other states do not have. For instance, custom-ordered baked goods, like wedding cakes or custom decorated cookies, are not allowed under this law. New York is also the only state to allow candy without allowing chocolate or chocolate-dipped items. Also, some dry items must use commercially-processed ingredients, like spices, soup mixes, and nut mixes. All of these restrictions are unique to New York and are not found in other states’ cottage food laws.

Selling Where can you sell homemade food products?

You can sell online and ship within New York, but you cannot ship to other states.

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Allowed Foods What food products can you sell from home?

Custom bakery items are not allowed, like custom-ordered cakes/cupcakes/cookies for weddings/birthdays/graduations/anniversaries. This is because the health department regulates custom bakery items. You need to contact your state, county, or local Department of Health to get licensed for these items.

Even though candy (toffee, caramels, hard candy) is allowed, chocolate is not allowed. Products covered/dipped in chocolate or candy melts are also not allowed.

Baked items containing fruits or vegetables (banana bread, blueberry muffins, etc) are not allowed.

You must use commercially-processed ingredients for the following dry items: herbs, spices, seasonings, baking mixes, soup mixes, dried fruit, dried vegetables, dried pasta, & roasted nuts (raw nuts are not allowed). In other words, you cannot use your home kitchen to dry pasta, dehydrate produce, or roast nuts, but you can buy these items already dried/processed and use them in your products.

For more information about allowed foods, see the ag department’s official list of approved and prohibited foods. Also read their FAQs about why certain items are not allowed.

You can find the law for selling honey and maple syrup here: 1 CRR-NY VI F 276.4(a)

You can use your home kitchen to make pet food or pet treats, but not under this law. You must complete a different registration process, which costs $100/year per product.

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?

Limitations
There is no sales limit

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

Registration

You must submit a registration form to the Department of Agriculture and Markets.

Registration is free and does not expire (unless you move).

On the form, you must list all types of products you intend to sell, but you can add products to your registration at any time for free.

Private well testing

If your home’s water comes from a private well, it must be tested for Coliform.

Labeling How do you label cottage food products?

Sample Label

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Forrager Cookie Company

123 Chewy Way, Cookietown, NY 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)


Resources Where can you find more information about this law?

1 CRR-NY VI F 276 -- go to sections 276.3(b)(3) & 276.4(b)Official Home Processing RulesHome Processor Registration Form

New York used to prohibit sales from home and online sales, but in May 2018 the ag department changed the rules to accommodate more allowed foods and sales venues, including in-state shipping. They did not need to change the law to do this, and they did it without any official published documentation to accompany the change.

Contacts

NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets

Department
Food Safety and Inspection
Email
agr.sm.hpregistrations@agriculture.ny.gov
Telephone
(518) 457-4492
Address
10B Airline Drive
Albany, NY 12235

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New York Forum Got questions? Join the discussion

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This forum contains 22 topics and 22 replies, and was last updated by  David Crabill 4 months ago.

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Comments

Do I need to have an inspection or permit for a cottage food operation in NY? I plan to sell baked goods from home, but I’m confused about the process. Can I just abide by the cottage food laws or do I need to fill out some type of application for a permit and get a kitchen inspection? I rent in a small one bedroom apartment, and not sure if this would effect me from making baked goods in my home. Do I need to send in a water bill although I don’t pay the water bill, it’s added into the rent I pay. However, it’s city water not private well water. So if it’s not from a private well do I need to send a water bill? I also understand that you can’t sell from home, but I read that you can sell if you do direct delivery. “You may sell at local venues such as farmers markets, farm stands, or by direct delivery, but not directly from your home or through the Internet.” So if this is true, then that would be an option for some people.

    You don’t need to contact the health dept but you should call your local planning division and see if there are any local requirements. For instance, you may need a standard business license and you will likely need written approval from your landlord since you are renting.

    Where did you get that line about delivery? I would add it to the venues section if that were the case. It’s mentioned in the outdated link in the Resources section, but it’s nowhere to be found in their main site. However, the delivery option doesn’t make much sense since internet sales (and phone orders, I assume) are not allowed. Also, custom orders are not allowed, like a specialty cake request. That raises the question about how the order would legally happen in the case of direct delivery.

    Your planning division is what enforces zoning requirements in your county. If you do a search for “planning division” or “zoning” plus your county, you should find a relevant result.

    Wow, thanks for sharing that page! What a great resource. I don’t know how I’ve been missing that registration link this whole time… though the last time I fully checked out NY was almost a year and a half ago, and it looks like they’ve modified a few things since then. I apologize for the misinformation and I’ve updated this page.

I live in NJ. So, both NY and PA are reachable for me. Will I be allowed to sell in those state at the appropriate venues if I am a resident of a different state?
And one more question: Where can I get information on how to properly package spices.
Thank you.

Hi,

So I’m a little confused. Do you need to fill out a home processing registration form or can you just apply to sell at a farmer’s market without any certification?

Thanks,
Lauren

    If you are only using the seeds in baked goods, then I don’t see why not. If you are using the greens, then you probably can’t use amaranth. What types of products were you planning on making?

I know this is for human food, but are there regulations regarding dog treats/food? If someone could point me in the right direction, I’d be much obliged

    when I got my license a couple of years ago I asked about dog treats and was told there is a separate certificate you need to get to make them. I think our local inspector said you had to go through Albany for that. She had nothing to do with the pet treats

What about a donation basket of baked goods for a fundraiser. I have read where in other states (Michigan, PA) that this is not allowed, as the end user is not known personally to the baker. Navigating for specific info in NY is difficult.

So….let’s say you can ONLY use merchant services via paypal. And the only way to ring people up is via paypal. The only way to use paypal to process a transaction is to either send an invoice, like via email, or have a person click a paypal link on a website. Sending an invoice is extremely troublesome, especially at an event. And would email even count as selling online or would it count as simply collecting payment via a digital process?

Since “online sales” are not allowed, can I use a shopping cart to “pre-order” an item without payment being processed which will then have product be distributed at an event, farmer’s market or elsewhere? Can I bring paypal with me to the event using merchant services swipers though technically the sale is digital?

Is the point of sale when the money exchanges hands between buyer and seller or is it when an order is placed, regardless of payment being made? For people without merchant services options, how can you collect payments without being restricted to cash?

    As far as I know, the ag dept has not published a definition for “transaction”, so my response here will be my best interpretation given what I know about the cottage food industry and the way that New York has set up its rules.

    If you are at an event and the buyer walks up, they should be able to pay with PayPal Here or something similar. It would probably also be okay for them to enter info on a phone and pay that way. But the transaction should happen right there, in-person. I don’t think the method of payment matters so much, but the timing does matter. Buyers should be making their decision at the market, when the product is in front of them.

    You can communicate with buyers over the internet, but you should not be taking any pre-orders. A shopping cart or PayPal link wouldn’t be permissible. Basically, you shouldn’t be making products for specific customers before you go to the market. Obviously this rule is likely to get bent, but I think the intent is that the seller will show up with products and sell them to whoever comes to the market. The original interpretation of the law, which they have since eased up on, was to disallow any kind of advertising of your business.

    Hope that helps, and to get further clarification, you can call the ag dept.

    Thanks, David! Just to let you (and anyone else know) as a follow up: The Dept. Of Ag “has no idea.” The two people I spoke with agree there is not definition for “transaction.” But one person I spoke with thought I was perfectly fine “selling” the product on my website as it is paypal while the other person even asked a supervisor and no one knew.

    That is funny and actually not that surprising. This is a classic case of you needing to go up the ranks until you can find someone that was responsible for interpreting the bill. There may only be a couple people in the govt that are familiar enough with the law to comment on it. I suppose that if the ag dept is this unclear about it, then whatever you interpret given the online info is fine.

I’m guessing that vegetarian food, such as salads cannot be sold under the cottage food law? Also, can you tell me which state has the most favorable law for food businesses operating out of their home?
Finally, do you know anything about the law in the province of Ontario, Canada? This is another option for us.
Thanks,
Kristine

    Processed or cooked vegetables like that are not allowed.

    In terms of most favorable (I assume you’ve seen all of the very green states on the laws page), I’m going to go with Pennsylvania. The process to get started there is a little longer than most, but once you get everything setup, you have a lot of flexibility. But it also depends on what you want to make — if you make refrigerated baked goods, like a cheesecake or custard, then Ohio would be the best.

    I’ve never done research about laws in Canada. It’s possible that it’s not illegal to sell homemade items over there. They may have no need for such a law, but I don’t know.

So, basically my dream of making cakes for weddings, birthdays, etc., and selling from my home is not possible as long as I live in NY? That’s unfortunate seeing as it’s just not possible to open a bakery…

    No, it is not possible to do it from home. The only way it would work is if your customers picked up their cake at one of the venues listed above (I know that sounds ridiculous, but some people have actually done that in other states to stay legal until their law changed). As you probably know, you can still partially fulfill your dream by using a commercial kitchen.

    I am confused by the above comment’s reply. You can bake and decorate cakes at home in NYC as long as they are picked up/paid for by a customer in person at a food fair, farmer’s market etc? Or is it not possible to make and sell cakes as a homebased baker in NYC at all if you are using your home kitchen to bake? But if you rent a commercial kitchen space as needed to bake, you can?

    All the laws on this site are for food made at home. You can only sell at the venues listed above (farmers markets, events, stands), if you make your items from home. If you get a commercial license, then you must use a commercial kitchen and don’t have the restrictions that home bakers have. You can rent a commercial kitchen, so it’s not necessary to open a brick and mortar bakery to run a wedding cake business like this.

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