Wisconsin is different from every other state in that they allow homemade canned goods, but they don’t allow homemade baked goods. Also known as the “Pickle Bill”, this law was modeled after their neighboring state’s law, except that Minnesota’s law does allow baked goods as well as canned.
Wisconsin’s pickle bill is the most restrictive cottage food law in the United States. Aside from the food limitations, producers can only have up to $5,000 of sales per year, and they may only sell at farmers markets and other community events. All sales must be made in-person and go directly from the producer to the consumer. Home producers are allowed to make jams, jellies, pickled goods, sauces, and any other canned goods that are acidic enough to be safe (needs a pH under 4.6).
However, there is no registration process or cost necessary to start selling. The law exempts producers from needing to get a license, though the Department of Agriculture encourages sellers to test their product for safety and take some training to educate themselves on safe production practices.
It’s strange that Wisconsin allows something relatively risky (canned goods) without allowing the least risky foods (baked goods). This is likely due to the presence of some special interest groups, like the Wisconsin Bakers Association. Since the opposition to homemade baked goods is merely political, three women partnered with the Institute of Justice in January 2016 to form a lawsuit challenging the ban on home-baked goods. One of the women, Lisa Kivirist, is the author of Homemade for Sale.
A sign must be displayed at the place of sale that says “These canned goods are homemade and not subject to state inspection.”
“Events” refers to “community or social events”. You cannot deliver to a private event, like a wedding.
Although no training is required, sellers are encouraged to educate themselves about safe canning practices. More information can be found in the “Training” section of the Ag Department’s home canned foods page.
Chocolate Chip Cookies
"This product was made in a private home not subject to state licensing or inspection"
Forrager Cookie Company
123 Chewy Way, Cookietown, WI 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 8/24/2019
Although there are no official workplace requirements, the Department of Agriculture encourages sellers to maintain safe sanitation practices in their kitchen and keep records of the products they produce. More information can be found in the “Record-keeping” and “Sanitation” sections of the Ag Department’s home canned foods page.
- Agriculture, Trade & Consumer Protection
- For legal information
Wisconsin Department of Agriculture
- University of Wisconsin
- (608) 263-7383
- For information about safe home-canning practices
UW Food Safety & Health Extension
- February 2010
- AB 229