Cottage Food Business Law (MD)

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Maryland’s Cottage Food Business Law

In 2012, Maryland passed a modified Cottage Law, allowing for citizens to operate a home based bakery or home food processing company. A copy of the law can at the Maryland General Assembly website.  This bill establishes requirements with regard to cottage food businesses (i.e., businesses that produce or package cottage food products in a residential kitchen for annual revenues of up to $25,000 from the sale of those products). The bill  specifies that a cottage food business in compliance with these requirements is not required to be licensed by the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH). A “cottage food product” is a nonhazardous food that is sold at a farmer’s market or public event. DHMH must adopt specified regulations to carry out the bill.

Under the law, the owner of a cottage food business may sell only cottage food products that are stored on the premises of the business and prepackaged with a label that contains (1) the name and address of the business; (2) the name, ingredients, and net weight or net volume of the product; (3) allergen information specified by federal labeling requirements; (4) if any nutritional claim is made, nutritional information as specified by federal labeling requirements; and (5) a printed statement that the product is made by a cottage food business that is not subject to Maryland’s food safety regulations. In addition, the owner must comply with all applicable county and municipal laws and ordinances regulating the preparation processing, storage, and sale of cottage food products.

Products that may be produce under the Cottage Food Industry law include:

  • High acid fruit jams and jellies
  • Non-potentially hazardous baked goods
  • Hard candy
  • Honey

Cottage laws can be helpful since they can reduce the amount of start-up cash a business owner may need since the owner might not have to pay business insurance or rent a building. On the other hand, the laws must be enforced to protect citizens from food that might get them sick or products that might be unsafe. Cottage food laws often limit the retail outlets for this type of food.  However, starting small and learning about operating your own business and feedback about your specialty food product is priceless. 

Additional Resources from Maryland Rural Enterprise Development Center:

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