Mar 21, 2012
Michigan Department of Ag wants proposal to raise cottage food sales limit considered separately

A provision to increase the limit on sales of food items prepared under Michigan’s Cottage Food Law from $15,000 to $24,999 has been approved by the Senate Agriculture Committee and is now before the Michigan Senate.

The increase was offered as an amendment in a bill that is updating the entire Michigan Food Law. However, the Michigan Department of Agriculture’s position is that it doesn’t belong there.

“The discussion around the amendment about increasing the limit should be a separate issue outside of the food law rewrite,” said Jennifer Holton, Michigan Department of Agriculture director of communications. “We truly believe that it should be two separate issues.”

Since 2010, cottage food operations in Michigan have been exempt from the licensing and inspection requirements of the state’s food law. Under the Cottage Food Law, non-potentially hazardous foods that do not require time and/or temperature control for safety can be produced in a home kitchen for direct sale to customers at farmers markets, farm markets, roadside stands or other direct markets. They can’t be sold in other retail settings or online or by mail.

Those operating as a cottage food producer are required to label their products for ingredients and identify that they are made in a home kitchen. Typical items allowed under the law include breads and other baked goods, jams and jellies that can be held at room temperature and various dry baking and herb mixes. Cheese, meats, salsa, garlic in oil mixtures and similar products are excluded.

Asked about the department’s position on raising the sales limit itself, Holton noted that the Cottage Food Law was crafted to give aspiring food entrepreneurs an opportunity to test the water with their idea – without a huge up-front investment.

“The Cottage Food Law was really designed to give people a small stepping stone into whether or not they wanted to be an agrifood entrepreneur … whether their product was viable for more growth – to give them an opportunity to dip their toe in the water,” Holton said.

After that, she said, the intent was that these small businesses would go into an incubator or commercial kitchen and begin operating under traditional state food regulations.

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