Laws About Starting a Homemade Food Business in New York

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You make a delicious pie, the perfect strawberry jam or everyone's favorite peanut brittle and would like to turn your recipe into a successful home-based food business. The laws that apply to starting a homemade food business in New York vary depending on the particular product produced and the type of kitchen used. Additionally, there are local and federal regulations regarding zoning and labeling.

Home-Processed - Ordinary Kitchen

The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets regulates food processing establishments. Home processors using an ordinary kitchen that is part of a private residence may be exempt from food establishment licensing provided they produce foods that are not potentially hazardous and that the finished products are packaged in clean, sanitary and properly labeled containers. Examples of permitted foods include nondairy bakery items; jams and jellies; spices and herbs; and snacks and candy, not including chocolate. Internet sales of these foods are not permitted, and residences on well water must undergo annual analysis for coliform. The premises are subject to inspection by the Department of Agriculture and Markets.

Home-Processed - Separate Segregated Facilities

Businesses planning on producing a homemade food that does not come under the non-potentially hazardous exemptions must follow the regulations set by the New York Department of Agriculture and Markets regarding food processing establishment licensing. Residences that have a separate segregated facility for food processing, or a kitchen that is not used for the home and is only used for the manufacture of food for sale, may apply for a food processing establishment license under Article 20-C of the New York Department of Agriculture and Markets. The cost for application is $400 as of 2010.

Other Local, State and Federal Regulations

Other laws that apply to starting a homemade food business in New York include municipal zoning regulations, state or county laws regarding business registration, and federal labeling requirements. Consult with local zoning officials regarding approval for home food processing in either your ordinary kitchen or separate segregated facility on the residential property. Determine the organizational structure of your homemade food business. If it is a sole proprietorship, you can file a business certificate with the local county clerk's office. If it is a corporation, limited-liability partnership or limited-liability corporation, you must register the business with the State Department of New York. Refer to the FDA's Food Labeling Guide (see References) for labeling requirements. You will need to label your homemade food with the name of the food, net quantity, ingredients and company information per the font, size and location requirements of the FDA. You may not need to provide a nutritional panel if you are not making nutritional claims about your product.

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