Rhode Island Cottage Food Law allows certain foods to be produced in a residential kitchen and sold directly to consumers. The foods are limited, and the kitchen must meet certain requirements. The producer needs to complete food handler training and obtain a Cottage Food Manufacturer registration from the Rhode Island Department of Health. There is a $65.00 annual fee and total gross sales are limited to $50,000 per year.
The Rhode Island Cottage Food Law (Rhode Island General Laws 21-27-6.2) is a newer law than the previous Farm Home Food Manufacturing rule, which allowed a farmer to make and bake goods at home and sell to the public.
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HOW TO START YOUR COTTAGE FOOD BUSINESS IN RHODE ISLAND – LICENSING
To start your cottage food business in Rhode Island, you need to complete a few requirements for training and registration. To continue, follow these steps:
STEPS TO START A COTTAGE FOOD BUSINESS IN RHODE ISLAND
- Always contact your local city / county office and verify if a business license is required prior to starting. Check on your local zoning requirements. This is simply done by calling the main number to your city or town and letting them know you are starting a cottage food business and ask if you need a business license. Depending on how you plan to do business, you may need to register with your local municipality and/or the Rhode Island Department of State. If you need a Retail Sales Tax permit, complete the Business Application and Registration form.
- Complete the Application for Rhode Island Cottage Food Manufacturer business, including a $65 registration fee payable to the “General Treasurer, State of Rhode Island.” Mail the application and check to Center for Food Protection, 3 Capitol Hill, Room 203, Providence RI 02908-5097
- Get a notarized affadavit of compliance form to show that your kitchen meets the requirements for cottage food production. If you have a well instead of municipal water, you need to have it tested and approved annually. Contact the Center for Drinking Water Quality for information.
- Complete an ANSI Accredited Food Handler training course, or provide your Food Safety certificate
- A food label (see label info below)
- Create a list of products and their recipes, including ingredients, processing steps, and product labels.
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RHODE ISLAND COTTAGE FOOD LAWS – Foods That Are Allowed
- Double crust pies
- Single crust fruit pies
- Yeast breads
- Cakes that do not require refrigeration
- Other foods “as defined by the department” (call and ask)
If the food item(s) you wish to make aren’t on this list, you can contact the RIDOH Center for Food Protection at (401) 222-2749 and ask if it would be allowed.
Real Life Cottage Food Entrepreneurs and Opportunities
- Cakes – teacher turns kitchen into bakery
- Doughnuts – cottage mini donut vendor
- Fruit jams and jellies
- Kettle corn – real kettle corn vendors from home
- Popcorn (plain and flavored) – see a real home vendor here
- Talk and Join hundreds of others here: VendorsUnited.com
RI COTTAGE FOOD LAWS – PROHIBITED FOODS
- Temperature Controlled Foods
- Potentially Hazardous Foods
NOTE: Although eggs, milk and dairy products are not allowed, used as ingredients for the allowed foods – is acceptable.
Many prohibited foods that are baked or cooked into the allowed foods are rendered harmless (non-TCS) and therefore allowed.
RHODE ISLAND ANNUAL SALES LIMITS
Rhode Island limits annual gross sales to $50,000 for cottage food manufacturers.
Limits are usually put in place to push you towards opening a full-fledged retail business while at the same time letting you start from home. Below is what the state of Colorado puts out to help folks wanting to go beyond cottage foods.
Colorado created a brochure on going beyond cottage food once you’ve outgrown or hit your maximum allowed income.
I have provided it here for a resource as you grow your business and wish to expand.
ACIDITY LEVELS AND TESTING
Most states determine if a food is non-potentially hazardous by the acidity level found in the food. The higher the acidity, the more stable at a range of temps, that food product is.
For example: milk is low acidity and requires temperature controls.
The acidity of foods is measured by pH.
• The range of pH is commonly considered to extend from zero to 14. A pH value of 7 is neutral because pure water has a pH value of exactly 7.
Values less than 7 are considered acidic, while those greater than 7 are considered basic or alkaline.
• All fruits are acidic foods and are usually tart and sour. Ex: tomato, lemon, peach, apple, etc.
• The FDA rule for acidic foods states that a food must have a pH below 4.6 to be sold as a minimally processed food
• The reason for this is bacteria does not grow at this level of acidity.
• The exclusion shall not be construed as allowing the sale of low acid foods (pH > 4.6) i
hermetically sealed containers (i.e. home-canned green beans, peas, etc.) when such
food is not prepared in a permitted establishment.
Some states require testing if the pH level is unknown.
For many food products, the pH level is already known. You can test for pH yourself using a pH spear tester. (make sure it is made for food and has a long spear tip).
Oklahoma State University shares an awesome guide for selecting the correct tester for foods and liquids which includes tips and tricks for operation and maintenance. Get The Guide Here.
RHODE ISLAND COTTAGE FOOD LAWS LABELING REQUIREMENTS
Labels are great for marketing your business! The basic information that must be on the label is as follows: (more food label details here)
- Business name, address, telephone number.
- Ingredients, listed in descending order of predominance by weight or volume. Use common names of ingredients and include sub-ingredients. Include chemical preservatives and food coloring.
- Allergen information, according to state and federal labeling requirements. If any major allergens (such as milk, eggs, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, soy) are in your product, they must be listed on the label.
- Include this statement in at least ten-point type in a clear and conspicuous manner that stands out from the background of the label: “Made by a Cottage Food Business That is Not Subject to Routine Government Food Safety Inspection.”
- If any nutritional claim is made – then Nutrition Guide must be listed according to the FDA guidelines on labeling.
Using VistaPrint.com or similar – you can quickly create professional labels that not only serve to meet the state cottage food guidelines but also serve for marketing your awesome business and products.
You’ll find some fantastic examples of labels from members inside VendorsUnited.com
ALLERGENS ON LABELING
The FDA lists eight (8) major food allergens. Listing any of these on your label is a smart business practice and will certainly help your customers choose a product.
- Fish (e.g., bass, flounder, cod)
- Crustacean shellfish (e.g., crab, lobster, shrimp)
- Tree nuts (e.g., almonds, walnuts, pecans)
Simply add to your label: “CONTAINS: SOYBEANS” Some go as far to announce that a certain allergen is used in the same kitchen.
Some states require you list any potential allergens and potential for any cross contamination even if the allergen is not used in the recipe.
FDA Allergen Labeling Example: Contains Wheat, Milk, Egg, and Soy
WHERE CAN I SELL MY COTTAGE FOOD PRODUCTS
Rhode Island Cottage Food Laws – Sales Rules
Rhode Island allows Cottage Food Manufacturers to sell directly to consumers. Products can be provided by pick up or delivery within the state, by the producer. Resale is not allowed, so you may not sell to grocery stores or restaurants, group homes, schools, daycares, care facilities, etc.
To sell at a farmer’s market or temporary event, you need an additional Retail Food Peddler License, which is renewable annually.
Inside kitchenincome.com you can find out how cottage food entrepreneurs are getting sales faster than they can make the food.
FOOD HANDLER TRAINING AND BEST PRACTICES
There are many short courses you can take online and actually get certified and be able to share that with your customers.
Many of our VendorsUnited.com members our proud to display their food safety certificates as a way to insure their customers that they care. This helps your business.
- Short courses that provide food handling and safety certification
- Free info from the FDA – food safety
Much of this may seem like common sense, but even if you already know, it’s a good idea to remind yourself with a list of things that can prevent you from missing something small.
And if for no other reason… CYA! CYA = Cover Your A#%
CLEAN WORK AREA / WORK SPACE / SANITIZATION
Providing safe to eat foods from your kitchen – starts in your kitchen.
Keep your area clean and sanitized to avoid cross contamination and to insure you provide your customers and clients with the safest and best foods they can get.
The following are some “common” sense things you can do to insure the best environment for preparing foods to sell:
- Keep all equipment and surface areas clean and sanitized
- Make sure window and door screens are bug proof with no gaps
- Keep ingredients separate to prevent cross contamination / e.g. raw eggs near flour
- No pets in work area and preferably none in the home
- Allow no-one with a cold, sniffles or sick in kitchen while preparing foods
- Wipe down walls and clean floors daily
- Use good lighting to avoid missing unclean areas
- Keep window and door screens in good repair to keep insects out
- Wash hands frequently while working and use food grade gloves for extra safety
- Keep areas of food storage and equipment storage clean and sanitized
Why keep these types of records?
Let’s say the inspector calls you and says they got a report that your banana bread, someone purchased, made them sick.
You’ll be able to show that you didn’t even make banana bread that week and that the person who reported you, bought that 4 weeks ago and you weren’t even the one that sold it to him.
This does not need to be complicated. I love my yellow legal pads and they make an inexpensive tool for keeping up with the following:
- The recipes you use including ingredients
- The process you use to prepare that specific recipe: (can be just like recipe instructions)
- Date made (can be coded for your own use only if your state doesn’t require the production date) e.g. Made 12.22.29 = 292212
- Date sold (you can have a batch code to help track a certain batch) Simply write down date you sold an item
- Location sold is another great piece of information to keep track of
- Sales receipts are something great to keep for a couple of reasons and over at KitchenIncome.com I dive into the best practices, best systems and best methods for tracking, managing, selling and shipping.
COTTAGE FOOD lIABILITY INSURANCE
We live in a society that likes to sue. I can sue you for wearing that color shirt. No kidding!
Of course I probably won’t win, but at the very least, it’s gonna cause you stress and some costs.
Liability insurance is a MUST.
It can be expensive – but several years ago, I found FLIP and by far, they gave me the most protection (coverage) and allow you to run your cottage food business without fear of being sued.
WHY? Because they provide the lawyers. And their lawyers… they are good!
Of course you should price shop around with your local agent or a national brand company, but rest assured, I’ve done all the legwork for you.
Alternatively, some folks opt to get bonded. You’ve heard the saying before: “licensed and bonded”.
A bond is usually provided from an insurance bonding company or your own insurance company. My first time, I got a bond at State Farm.
A bond is expensive comparatively but is less out of pocket in the beginning. Of course, it’s way, way less insurance / coverage too.
A $10,000 bond may cost $50 annually while a $2,000,000.00 liability policy may cost a few hundred a year.
No matter what you decide… knowing you’re insured against frivolous lawsuits is worth every penny.
RHODE ISLAND COTTAGE FOOD LAWS IMPORTANT LINKS
- Rhode Island Cottage Foods information
- Rhode Island Cottage Food Manufacturer Registration form
- Rhode Island Cottage Food FAQs
- Rhode Island Food Labeling information
- Rhode Island Online Business Registration
RHODE ISLAND COTTAGE FOOD CONTACT INFO
Rhode Island Dept. Of Health – Farm Home
Office of Food Protection
UPDATES TO RHODE ISLAND COTTAGE FOOD LAWS
From time to time, links, info, rules and numbers change, are updated or made obsolete.
Although I spend time daily with hundreds of vendors (many of which are cottage food businesses) – I can miss an update.
If you find a broken link, outdated information or any other issue… please let me know and I’ll send you a special gift for helping me maintain the best site on the internet for the cottage food industry.
My goal has always been to have a central place that is absolutely free those starting out or existing entrepreneurs who use their homes and kitchens to make real incomes.
Please send to [email protected] / or post inside the private VendorsUnited.com group.
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This information is provided to help those interested in starting a cottage food business. It is not a document made by the state government. This information is not provided as law nor should be construed as law. Always use the contact information for each state to confirm compliance and any changes.
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