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Buyers Guide: MN Cottage Food Producers

Updated: May 28

What is a ‘cottage food producer’?

The Cottage Food Law allows for individuals to make and sell certain, non-potentially hazardous food, and canned goods in Minnesota without a license. Cottage food producers are not subject to state inspection.

Cottage food producer as defined by MN dept of Agriculture:

An individual who:

· Prepares non-potentially hazardous food without inspection or a license,

· Manufactures food that does not require time or temperature controls for safety,

· Sells directly to the end consumer; and

· Registers with the Minnesota Department of Agriculture.

What are cottage food producers allowed to sell?

All items must fall under the category of ‘non-potentially hazardous foods’. These are items that are baked, dried, or acidic canned goods (pH of 4.6 or lower).

MDA examples of non-potentially hazardous foods:

· Acidified or acidic, home-canned, and home-processed:

o Fruits–Pickle–Vegetables–Fermented Foods –Vinegar–Condiments

· Baked Goods

· Candy and Confections

· Dried, Dehydrated and Roasted Items (Beans, Herbs, Seeds)

· Icings, Frostings, Sugar Art

· Jams, Jellies, Preserves, Fruit Butters

Depending on the recipe, some of these items could be potentially hazardous.

What is not allowed under the cottage food law?

MDA examples of potentially hazardous food that you cannot make at home and sell:

· Food that originated from an animal or aquatic species, which is raw or cooked, such as meatloaf or baked salmon,

· Food that is a plant that is cooked, such as cooked rice or steamed green beans,

· Food that consists of raw seed sprouts, cut melons, cut fresh tomatoes, cut leafy greens, or garlic-, vegetable-, or herb-based oil mixtures.

What to look for when purchasing from a cottage food vendor.

Approach purchasing from a cottage food vendor like you would any other food establishment. If the vendor is unkempt or their stand is dirty or messy, more than likely so are the conditions where their products are produced.

Check the label. Labelling should be clear with the name and address of the business, a list of ingredients including allergens, and date it was made.

Know your vendor. It is a good practice to get a business card from your local vendors so that if there is an issue with one of their products you are able to get ahold of them.

Vendors must display a sign stating “These products are homemade and not subject to state inspection.”

When should I ask to see a license?

Most businesses that need a license to operate will proudly display it for you. If you have a doubt, you can always ask the vendor to see their license; they are required to have it with them when selling. You can also look it up on your state’s department of agriculture website or contact the health department which inspects vendors farmers markets. In Minnesota:

When in doubt throw it out.

If the jar does not pop when you remove the lid, or the bread you purchased does not smell quite right, just throw it out. It is better to waste a few dollars than to spend a few days or more with a stomachache or worse. Please remember that botulism can survive in a vacuum such as sealed canning jars.

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