Posted On: July 13, 2023

Cottage Food Law Florida: Do You Need a Permit to Sell Food From Home?

Although you might not be familiar with the term “cottage food,” chances are, you’ve enjoyed one in your lifetime. Items such as cake, cookies, popcorn, and coffee are all examples of cottage food. While the sale of most food items requires permits or compliance with specific food codes regulations, cottage food laws allow small business owners a way to sell their goods without having to abide by the strict requirements that restaurants or grocery stores must follow.   

So, are you interested in selling food from home in Florida?  Read on to learn more about the cottage food laws in the Sunshine State.

What Are Cottage Food Laws?

Despite its name, cottage food laws don’t allow for the sale of cottage cheese. The term refers to small-scale business owners operating from their homes or “cottage.” These businesses were often characterized by manual labor and the production of handmade goods.

Cottage food laws are a set of regulations that govern the production and sale of certain types of homemade food products. These laws were created to support small-business owners to operate from their homes without having to get food licenses or permits, use commercial-sized kitchens or facilities, or be subject to inspections by any state government entity. These laws may vary from state to state and are typically enacted at the state or local level.

The specific foods allowed under cottage food laws can differ depending on where the owner is located, but some common examples include bread, jam, pickles, and candy. The thing these items have in common that makes them subject to these laws is that they can be shelf-stable at room temperature. These types of foods are typically considered non-potentially hazardous and have a low risk of causing foodborne illness.

Florida Cottage Food Laws

Let’s dig into the specifics of cottage food laws in the state of Florida. They are regulated by Florida Statutes 500.80, but remember, they are also subject to rules implemented by local municipalities.

Foods permitted by Florida cottage food laws include:

  • Bread, rolls, and biscuits
  • Cakes
  • Cookies
  • Pastries
  • Muffins
  • Fruit pies
  • Dried fruit
  • Homemade pasta
  • Candies
  • Jams, jellies, and preserves
  • Honey
  • Dry herbs and seasonings
  • Cereal
  • Trail mix
  • Granola
  • Coated or uncoated nuts
  • Vinegar
  • Popcorn
  • Homemade pasta
  • Coffee beans

A complete list of permitted foods can be found on the Florida Department of Agriculture’s website.

Meanwhile, prohibited foods include:

  • “Wet” condiments, such as ketchup, mustard, and barbecue sauce
  • Salsa
  • Hummus
  • Milk
  • Eggs
  • Yogurt
  • Juice
  • Raw meat
  • Jerky
  • Fish or shellfish
  • Raw sprouts
  • Acidified or pickled foods
  • Low-acid canned foods
  • Canned fruits or vegetables
  • Cut fresh fruit or vegetables
  • Fermented foods
  • Baked goods that require refrigeration, such as meringue pies or pastries with cream cheese filling

There are some other restrictions that must be followed in order to stay compliant with Florida’s cottage food laws. Businesses are only allowed to sell up to $250,000 of their products annually. They are also subject to all state and federal taxes.

All of the food products sold must also be prepackaged and labeled with the following information:

  • Name and address of the cottage food operation
  • Name of the product
  • Ingredients
  • Net weight or net volume of the product
  • Allergen information

The label must also include a clearly printed statement that reads, “Made in a cottage food operation that is not subject to Florida’s food safety regulations.”

How and Where Can You Sell Cottage Food in Florida?

Some of Florida’s cottage food laws don’t just detail restrictions. In 2021, the law was expanded to permit operators to sell their products online, as well as through mail orders, directly from their homes or public events such as farmer’s markets. However, individuals are still not allowed to wholesale their products to businesses like restaurants or grocery stores.

Legal Consequences

Breaking Florida cottage food laws can have serious legal ramifications. The severity of those consequences depends on the violation. Authorities can send cease and desist orders, revoke someone’s permit, or impose a fine of up to $5,000 per violation. If a producer mislabels the country of origin of any food product being sold, they face an even more significant fine of $10,000 per violation.

Besides criminal penalties, producers can also face civil lawsuits from customers if they lie about what is in the food products or if they are mislabeled.

Cottage Food Permit Process

So, do you need a permit to sell food from home in Florida? The answer is no. Florida cottage food laws allow producers to make and sell these types of products without obtaining a food permit from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Not only that, but the state doesn’t require any inspections before you begin. Keep in mind that cities and counties can enact their own ordinances restricting someone from selling food products out of their home. Just remember to double-check the rules and requirements wherever you are located and follow all of the guidelines specified.

As we’ve already mentioned, the state of Florida also doesn’t require any home inspections before you begin making and selling your product. However, you should still consider following basic food safety and hygiene principles to avoid food poisoning. This can include:

  • Washing your hands
  • Keeping your hair away from your face
  • Cleaning all counters, sinks, and equipment
  • Avoiding cross-contamination
  • Keeping cleaning products away from food
  • Rinsing all fruits or vegetables

You can learn more about food safety best practices in our Florida Food First food handler’s course. Even if it is not required by law, it’s important to know how to handle food so you can help protect your business and customers.

Our course covers topics such as biohazards, food spoilage, food and temperature control, food storage, sanitizing, and pest control. Learn2Serve by 360training has over 20 years of experience providing high-quality online courses and ANSI-CFP accreditation and regulatory approval in many states. 

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