Part of the Food Policy Snapshot Series
Policy name: Rhode Island Cottage Food Law (H 7123, Article 9, Section 2)
Overview: Rhode Island’s cottage food law went into effect in November 2022, allowing residents to legally sell homemade baked goods.
Location: Rhode Island
Population: 1.1 million
Food policy category: Food supply and distribution, food safety
Program goals: To allow bakers to sell their goods without having to lease commercial kitchen space.
How it works: Residents can now register through the Rhode Island Department of Health for cottage food manufacture in order to sell shelf-stable baked goods from their homes and/or online. Customers can pick up goods from the seller’s home, or the seller can offer to ship goods within the state.
To be registered, bakers must be in compliance with several regulations:
- All cottage food manufacturers must complete an approved food handler course prior to registration.
- Residential kitchens must have either a two-compartment sink or a dishwasher and a one-compartment sink. All dishes and tabletops must air dry after washing.
- Food preparation surfaces must be made of stainless steel, Formica, or a similarly non-absorbent material.
- Pets are not allowed in food preparation or food storage areas.
- Domestic cooking cannot be performed at the same time in the same space as cottage food manufacture.
- Detailed recipes for cottage food products must be available for inspection in the kitchen.
- Each cottage food item must contain a label including ingredients, allergen warnings, and a statement making it clear that the food is not subject to regular food safety inspection.
- Total annual gross sales must not exceed $50,000.
- Cottage food manufacturers must pay a yearly $65 registration fee.
Progress to date: The Home Food Manufacture Act, H 5758, seeking to allow residents to sell homemade foods, was introduced in February 2021 but was held for further study. Bill H 7123, which was introduced in January 2022 and included the cottage food law, was passed on June 27, and applications to become a registered cottage food manufacturer opened in November.
Why it is important: Prior to the passage of H 7123, only farmers – 0.02 percent of the population – in Rhode Island could sell their goods from home under the Farm Home Food Manufacture Law, and Rhode Island was the only state that did not allow cottage food sales. During the COVID-19 pandemic, many people found themselves in need of a way to make money without leaving their homes, but without a cottage food law in effect, those who tried to start home-based baking businesses were often reported to the Department of Health and forced to shut down. For those who want to start a baking company and gradually grow their business, cottage food laws can make the business more profitable by reducing the overhead costs associated with leasing commercial kitchen space and hiring staff.
Program/Policy initiated: The policy went into effect in November 2022.
Point of contact:
Rhode Island Department of Health
Similar practices: All 50 states and the District of Columbia now have cottage food laws with varying regulations and requirements.
Evaluation: The policy has not yet been evaluated.
- The Cottage Food Industry Explained (Food Industry)
- Defending Your Right to Sell Homemade Food (Institute for Justice)
- Do Cottage Food Laws Reduce Barriers to Entry for Food Manufacturers? (Applied Economic Perspectives and Policy)
- Home-based Food Entrepreneurs Surge Under Cottage Food Laws and Covid-19 (Mother Earth News)
- The Rise of Cottage-Food Production (Modern Farmer)
- ‘There Has to Be a Way’: Portsmouth Entrepreneur Urges State to Allow the Sale of Homemade Food (WPRI)
- Cottage Foods Map and Chart (Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund)
- Food And Drugs — Sanitation In Food Establishments — Home Food Manufacture Act (State of Rhode Island)
- Making Appropriations For The Support Of The State For The Fiscal Year Ending June 30, 2023 (State of Rhode Island)
- Registration and Instructions for Food Business: Cottage Food Manufacture (Rhode Island Department of Health)
- Rhode Island (Forrager)
- Rhode Island H 7123 (Forrager)
- Selling Homemade Food in Rhode Island (Institute for Justice)
- Title 21 Food and Drugs Chapter 27 Sanitation in Food Establishments (State of Rhode Island)
- Unleash the Yeast: Unpacking Rhode Island’s New Cottage Food Law (Rhode Island Monthly)