By: Cristina N. Hyde, JD
In a long overdue step to align New Jersey with the rest of the nation, the Department of Health (DOH) recently adopted new rules allowing the sale of certain homemade foods for profit. Expected to take effect this fall, the new rules will create a cottage law establishing a regulatory scheme for the sale of food prepared in home kitchens and will outline definitions, procedures, prerequisites, conditions, and fees associated with obtaining a cottage food operator permit.
According to the DOH, the permitting requirement will provide assurance to the public that cottage food operators are implementing best practices and measures to ensure food safety. In addition to requiring those engaged in the sale of homemade food to obtain a permit, the new cottage law will:
- Require that individuals seeking a permit are food protection managers in good standing with an accredited program.
- Authorize permit holders to produce cottage food products in the private kitchen of their residence only.
- Place a $50,000 limit on gross annual sales.
- Implement labeling requirements to ensure that the common name, ingredients, major food allergen warnings, and a notice that the food was prepared in a kitchen that has not been inspected by the DOH are all evident to the consumer.
- Allow only direct sales (ex., directly to the home of the consumer, a farmers market or farm stand).
The new cottage law is expected to support and generate income for the state economy through taxes, permitting fees, and the support of local business and suppliers. Supporters of the new cottage law also hope that it will provide an alternative to unemployment; particularly in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
In addition to the new cottage law, prospective cottage food operators should be aware that several bills are pending before the 218th New Jersey Legislature that would also authorize for-profit sales of homemade food, such as A-2315 (introduced on February 3, 2020) and S-73 which was approved by the Senate on July 30, 2020.
Campanella Law Office will be watching closely for publication of New Jersey’s new cottage law and will be following A-2315 and S-73 as they move through the legislative process. Meanwhile if you are considering opening a home-based food production business, or have any questions about the new rules, please Contact Us.