Can Anyone Sell Food To The Public?



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I started my first food business 15 years ago, and over the years I’ve become pretty well versed in food laws, at least for my home state, county, and city.

Anyone can sell food to the public, however, there will be guidelines, regulations, and perhaps even licensing requirements. Those restrictions can be a small as limiting the types of food you can sell or as major as requiring a licensed kitchen. Restrictions will based upon what kind of food you want to sell and where you live.

Let’s dig into the details of figuring out what regulations will apply to you before you start selling food to the public.

What are Cottage Food Laws and how do they affect what food you can sell?

If you are dreaming of starting a home-based food business in the United States, you are probably going to be relying upon the Cottage Food Laws in your state to do so legally.

Cottage Food Laws are in place in many states to allow individuals to sell low-risk foods from their home kitchen directly to consumers without inspection of that kitchen.

In nearly all states, home kitchen businesses can sell low-risk items like baked goods and jams & jellies to the public.

Other higher-risk items require compliance to state and local regulations before such food can be sold to the public.

If your dream is to run your new food business from your home kitchen, you are going to have to gain a really clear understanding of what the rules are in your location.

Start here with this Cottage Food Laws Map By StateOpens in a new tab.. It’s an outstanding resource and will get you started tracking down the details for your US State.

For international readers, I’m afraid I don’t know anything about the food laws in other countries. Sorry.

~Stacey

What If You Need A Licensed Kitchen For Your New Food Business?

If you find out that your dream food business will require additional regulation including a licensed kitchen, don’t give up just yet.

There are at least three options that might allow you to start your food business affordable.

#1 – A State Licensed Kitchen In Your Home

I’ve had a state-licensed kitchen in my country home for about 14 years. It’s inspected just like a restaurant kitchen, and it gives me the option to make and sell nearly any food within the borders of my state, and most foods shipped to other states.

However, not all states, counties, and even cities allow putting a state licensed kitchen in a single family home. To find out if it’s allowed in your location, start with your State Department of Agriculture.

Keep in mind that putting in a commercial kitchen in your home is not inexpensive, costing over $7,000. { Click here to read an article where I detail the costs of commercial kitchen. >>> }

#2 – A State Licensed Food Truck In Your Driveway

All states regulate and license food trucks, and in nearly all states they don’t differentiate between food truck kitchens and restaurant kitchens.

That means that you can run nearly any kind of food business out of a food truck!

However, not all cities and counties allow you to park a food truck in your driveway and regularly use it for business. You’ll have to check with your local zoning officials to find out. At a minimum, it’s likely they will require a business zoning license of some kind. Ours cost us just $10 a year.

#3 – Renting A Licensed Kitchen In Your Community

The most affordable way to get access to a commercial kitchen when you first start your food business will be to rent time in an already licensed kitchen.

You can find kitchens that sit unused in nearly any community. Below is a list of places that you can start looking.

How To Find A Rental Kitchen

  • Weekend Only Restaurants
  • Churches
  • Clubs
  • City Community Centers
  • Home Owner Association Community Centers
  • Event Locations

Conclusion

You can absolutely sell food to the public, but you are going to need some leg work to find out what rules and regulations you are going to need to comply with.

Those rules and regulations will changed based upon what kinds of food you want to sell and what state / county / city you live in.

In general, you should start with your State Department Of Agriculture, and they will have someone on staff who can help you find the information you need before you decide to start a food business.


Want To Start Your Home Based Own Food Business?

I’ve supported my family for over 15 years with food businesses run from the comfort of my own home. I started this website to help others achieve their dreams too.

If you’d like to hear more from me, be sure to signup to connect via email.

~Stacey

Stacey

With over 15 years of experience starting, running, and growing home-based food businesses, Stacey is the #1 home-based food business coach in America. Stacey is the author of the Advantage Meals: By The Numbers Book.

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