Have you ever wondered who regulates the pickles your next-door neighbor makes and sells out of their home? The regulation of homemade food products, also known as cottage food products, has been a popular topic of conservation among both the public and private sectors over the past decade. Most states in the United States have laws that govern the production of certain food products in the home with little to no regulatory oversight. This means that a lot of states will exempt certain food products and the kitchens they are made in from the routine inspections and licensing requirements that many large food processing facilities undergo. While most states have had laws governing cottage food for years, many states updated their provisions after the rise of popularity in tasks like pickling and preserving following the COVID pandemic in 2020. This article will discuss cottage food-related bills that have been introduced in the current 2024 legislative session.

Background of Cottage Food Laws

The United States of America is known and celebrated for having the safest food supply in the world. This means that we have an effective system of regularly inspecting food and its processing and packaging facilities to both ensure high quality and prevent contamination and the presence of food-born illness. However, because of the rigorous inspection processes, it can be difficult for a smaller food producer or beginning entrepreneur to break into the industry. Cottage food laws seek to exempt certain cottage food operations that meet specific conditions from state-level inspection and licensing requirements. The definitions relating to cottage food, the labeling and registration requirements, and the delivery and market conditions of selling cottage food products vary from state-to-state. To view the NALC compilation of “Cottage Food” laws, click here.

2024 Proposed State Legislation


Two bills relating to cottage foods have been introduced in Arizona this legislative session.

HB2042 is the most extensive of the proposed bills. This provision creates a section for cottage food products within Art. 2, Ch. 8, Tit. 36 of the Arizona Code. Currently, Arizona law exempts cottage food from being subject to the Director of Health Services’ prescribed measures ensuring “all food or drink . . . provided for human consumption is free from unwholesome, poisonous or other foreign substances and filth, insects or disease-causing organisms.” ARS § 36-136. Within the exemption provision, Arizona defines a cottage food product, sets out labeling requirements, and requires the registration of the food preparer and the displaying of their certificate of registration.

Similar to the current law, the proposed bill defines cottage food as food prepared in a home kitchen by or under the direct supervision of an individual who is registered with the Department of Health Services. However, the proposed bill expands the cottage food definition to include foods that are potentially hazardous or require time/temperature control for safety if exempt under federal regulations. Additionally, the proposed bill contains labeling requirements similar to the current law, and requires food handler training courses for people preparing or directly supervising the preparation of cottage food products.

Unlike the current law, the proposed bill creates conditions that must be met for cottage food products to be sold online and establishes rules for the transportation of cottage food products and the selling of cottage food products by third party vendors. The proposed bill defines the term “home kitchen,” and authorizes the sale of cottage food products that meet federal regulations such as poultry raised under the 1,000-bird exemption. If enacted, this proposed bill would increase the number of foods that qualify for the cottage food exemption and provide expanded market opportunities through online sales and third-party vendors to cottage food operations.

The other Arizona bill related to cottage food products would result in a less significant change. HB2864 would add “precut and processed freeze-dried fruits and vegetables” to the list of food products included the in the cottage food products exemption from the inspection and licensing rules that govern other food processing facilities.


Introduced on January 22, 2024, HB 2144 would establish the Access to Local Value-Added Products Act and allow homemade food operations that meet certain conditions to sell homemade food products. Hawaii refers to cottage food products and cottage food operators as homemade food products and homemade food operations, respectively. Currently, the production of homemade food products in Hawaii is governed only by regulations, so this bill would codify a set of laws regulating the production of homemade food products. Under the current regulations, the definition of homemade food products does not include “fermented foods, acidified foods, canned or bottled foods, dried meats or seafood, or low acid canned foods and garlic in oil.” HAR § 11-50-2. However, the proposed bill defines homemade food products as food products prepared for sale in the home kitchen of a homemade food operator’s private home or in a farm kitchen. Under the proposed bill, a home kitchen is defined as a kitchen designed and intended for use by the residents of a private home, and a farm kitchen is a kitchen designed for private use, located in a building on a farm not in a private home that complies with all applicable building and zoning laws. The bill’s language would broaden the definition of homemade food products to allow more homemade food operations to participate in the exemptions qualified homemade food products are afforded.

Additionally, under the proposed bill, homemade food operations are required to have a permit from the Department of Health, and to submit proof of a valid food handlers education certificate. Homemade food operations selling products using certain preservation methods, such as freeze drying and dehydrating, must either possess a valid certificate from Hawaii Master Food Preservers, Inc. or a comparable department-approved certificate. If the homemade food operation does not possess a valid certificate, the operation can submit a food sample to a department-approved food testing facility to have the recipe approved for food safety. The permit and various certificates are requirements that are not currently required through the regulations.  The proposed bill also includes labeling requirements for cottage food products including, the words “made in a home or farm kitchen not routinely inspected by the Department of Health,” common name of the product, ingredients, allergen identification information, and name and contact information of the homemade food operator. The provision would exempt homemade food products from all other licensing, permitting, inspection, packaging, and label laws administered by the Department of Health. There is a companion bill in the Hawaii Senate, SB 2106. A bill with similar language was introduced in the 2023 legislative session, but it did not pass.


Illinois currently has bills in both its House and Senate, HB 4280 and SB 2617, which would amend the definition of “local health department” under Illinois’ current cottage food provisions to allow cottage food operations located in a county without a local health department to register with a local health department nearby. Currently, under 410 ILCS 625/4, a cottage food operator is required to register with the local health department where they are located; however, not every county or local government in Illinois has a local health department. These bills would allow a county government without a local health department to enter into an agreement or contract with the local health department of an adjacent county, so that the cottage food operations in their jurisdiction might register with the adjacent local health department.

Additionally, the Illinois Senate has another bill relating to cottage food, SB 3544. This legislation includes similar changes for local health department registration, but also creates a definition for “Mobile farmers market,” and establishes mobile farmers markets as a location where cottage food operations may sell directly to consumers. This would give cottage food operations the ability to sell their product at a farmers market that can change locations, thus providing opportunities to reach new and different consumers.


In Massachusetts, there are three pieces of proposed legislation with similar language seeking to codify the rights of cottage food operations. Currently, the production of cottage food in Massachusetts is only governed through regulations. Under the regulations, cottage food operations other than an on- or off-farm operations selling whole, uncut fresh fruit and vegetables, unprocessed honey, pure maple products, or farm fresh eggs must be approved by and obtain a license from the Board of Health. 105 Mass. Reg. 590.010(F)(2). However, in H758, S484, and S553, cottage food operations are not required to obtain a license, nor register with the Department of Public Health. Using the same language as the regulations, the proposed bills define a cottage food operation as “a person who produces cottage food products only in the home kitchen of that person’s domestic residence for retail sale directly to the consumer.” The proposed bills also define a cottage food product in the same way the regulations do, as a non-time/temperature control for food safety food, and includes foods such as baked goods, jams, and jellies.

The proposed bills would exempt cottage food operations from other permitting, licensing, inspection, packaging, and labeling requirements for food establishments set by State law, the Department of Public Health, and local boards of health. Unlike the regulations, the proposed bills require cottage food operations to provide the consumer with its name, address or personal identification number, the common or unusual name of the cottage food product, ingredients, and the statement, “This product was produced at a private residence that is exempt from Massachusetts licensing and inspection requirements. This product may contain allergens.” The proposed bills would also allow the Department of Public Health to establish and maintain a voluntary registry for cottage food operations that does not impose a fee, nor any further restrictions. The passage of these bills would mean that a cottage food operation no longer requires approval and licensing from the Department of Public Health, but it would mandate compliance with the labeling requirements set forth in the bill.

A bill with similar language was introduced during the 2023 legislative session but was not passed.


In Mississippi, SB 2638 proposes to amend the current definition of cottage food to include “products that are specific types of foods that individuals are allowed to make in their private homes.” Currently, Mississippi law defines cottage food as “nonpotentially hazardous food products as defined by the department.” Miss. Code Ann. § 75-29-951. The proposed bill would also expand the cottage food definition to require cottage foods to be nonhazardous, not require time and/or temperature control to remain safe for consumption, be stored in the seller’s home or small-scale food operation following the safe food handling guidelines outlined in the United States Food and Drug Administration Retail Food Code to prevent adultery, and not have been found to support the growth of pathogens by the Food and Drug Administration. The expanded definition of cottage food in the proposed bill would provide clarity and direction for food producers and entrepreneurs seeking to establish a cottage food operation in Mississippi. Additionally, the bill includes a list of twenty foods that are authorized as cottage foods within the state and increases the maximum annual gross sales of cottage food products from $35,000 to $50,000.


In Virginia, HB 759 proposes to expand market opportunities for cottage food producers by allowing the advertising of cottage food products on the internet. Under the current law, cottage foods are prohibited from being sold over the internet or in other states. The proposed bill erases this language and specifically states that cottage food products are permitted to be advertised over the internet. In addition, the proposed bill expands the maximum gross sales a producer of homemade “pickles and other acidified vegetables” can make from $3,000 to $9,000 yearly and requires that mandatory labeling claims be placed on the principal display panel of the cottage food product’s packaging.


In 2023, Washington enacted a bill increasing the cap of annual gross sales a cottage food operation can make to $35,000 and allowing the Department of Agriculture to review the cap on annual gross sales every four years. However, SB5107 proposed this year would increase the annual gross sales cap to $50,000 and require the Department of Agriculture to review the cap every two years. The increase in annual gross sales cap would allow cottage food operations to make more money, and still qualify for the inspection and licensing exemptions that cottage foods enjoy. Additionally, the proposed bill would require the Department of Agriculture to maintain a full-time equivalent staff to timely process permits and provide service to cottage food operations – a provision which was vetoed by Governor Inslee from last year’s enacted bill.


The United States is known for having the safest food supply in the world; however, the rigorous inspection and licensing processes can create a barrier for smaller food producers or beginning entrepreneurs to enter the market. Cottage food laws seek to create opportunities for qualifying cottage food producers to create and produce certain food products in their home with little regulatory oversight. State laws vary and many have been updated in the past few years. This article discusses the proposed cottage food related bills in Arizona, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Mississippi, and Washington. Each of these bills has been introduced and is still under consideration in the respective state legislatures.


Click here, to visit the NALC’s Local Food Systems Reading Room.

Click here, to view NALC webinar, “Cottage Food Laws: Adequately Addressing Food Safety and Economic Opportunity?”