Cottage Food Operation

Certain foods in Ohio can be made in the home and sold at the retail level. These are called cottage foods. Information provided gives an overview of the rules and regulations for a cottage food operation.



A “Cottage Food Production Operation” means that a person who, in the person’s home, produces non-TCS (temperature controlled safety) foods, including bakery products, jams, jellies, candy, fruit butter, and similar products specified in the rule.


What kinds of food?

  • Bakery Products
    • Cookies
    • Breads
    • Brownies
    • Cakes/Cupcakes
    • Pies
    • Muffins
  • Candies
    • No-bake cookies
    • Chocolate covered pretzels
  • Dry baking mixes in a jar
  • Dry cereal
  • Dry herbs and herb blends
  • Dry seasoning blends
  • Dry tea blends
  • Jams
  • Jellies
  • Fruit Butter
  • Granola/Bars
  • Nut snack mixes with seasonings
  • Pizzelles
  • Popcorn
  • Roasted coffee, whole/ground beans
  • Unfilled, baked donuts
  • Waffle cones

Environmental Health Specialists inspect various food service operations to ensure that food is being handled, stored and cooked properly. At home, you can use many of the same safety tips to ensure the food you prepare is safe for your family and customers to eat.


Selling Cottage Foods

Cottage foods may only be sold in the state of Ohio. Cottage foods may not be sold on the Internet. Cottage foods may be sold:

  • Directly to the end customer from the site of preparation (home);
  • Through licensed grocery stores;
  • At farm markets (foods sold at point of production);
  • At farmers’ markets (foods sold at different location);
  • To a licensed restaurant to be used in the preparation of food.


Home Production

Cottage foods must be produced in a residential kitchen. The owner of the cottage food operation may only prepare foods in their own kitchen. The home may only contain one stove or oven that is used for cooking (a double oven is acceptable). Commercial grade cooking equipment is not allowed. The home must be located in the state of Ohio.


Cottage foods must be labeled properly, otherwise the food will be considered misbranded or adulterated. Labeling requirements can be found in ORC 3715.023 and 21CFR Part 101. Labels must include the following:

  • Name and address of the cottage food production operation;
  • The name of the food product;
  • All ingredients of the food product, in descending order by predominance of weight;
  • The net weight or net volume of the food product;
  • The statement: “This Product is Home Produced” in ten-point type;
  • Nutritional claims (low fat, low sodium, etc.) that must meet federal labeling requirements;
  • Allergen labeling that must be followed as specified in federal labeling requirements.




Normally, a cottage food operation is exempt from licensure from a local health department. However, there are a few instances where a license is needed:

  • If your retail food for sale display exceeds 200 cubic feet (100 cubic feet at a farmers’ market), a retail food establishment (RFE) license will be needed from your local health department.
  • If you wish to also bake TCS baked goods (such as cheesecakes, custard pies, cream pies, meringue pies, pumpkin pies, etc), a Home Bakery license will need to be obtained from the Ohio Department of Agriculture.
  • If there is any preparation or handling of non-prepackaged foods, a temporary food service operation license will be needed from your local health department.



Cottage foods must be packaged prior to selling. Cottage foods cannot be packaged using vacuum sealing.


Food Safety Training

Hamilton County Public Health offers a bi-monthly food safety training class. Classes occur on the first Tuesday of the month at 9 a.m. and the third Thursday of the month at 1:30 p.m. The cost of the course is $20 per person. Call (513) 946-7800 for more information or to register for classes.



Questions about cottage foods or licensure? Contact Hamilton County Public Health at (513) 946-7800.


Download a printable version of this fact sheet here.


250 William Howard Taft Road
2nd Floor, Cincinnati, OH 45219
Phone 513.946.7800 Fax 513.946.7890