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Indiana Cottage Food Laws and Regulations – 2024

Table of Contents hide 1 The Laws for Home Based Owners 2 Qualification as a Home-Based Vendor 2.1 Who is a Home-Based...

Written by Niel Patel · 4 min read >
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Indiana is known for its friendly “Hoosier Hospitality” and a few culinary highlights. The iconic pork tenderloin sandwich, featuring breaded and fried pork, is a local favourite, and you will love it. The state’s fertile soil supports farm-to-table dining, emphasizing fresh, locally sourced ingredients. Amish communities contribute traditional homemade foods, while sweet corn and apple orchards thrive in the region. 

Hold on, Indiana may not have a singular famous dish, but its food culture is diverse and influenced by agriculture, local traditions, and welcoming residents.

Another thing that stands out about Indiana is its food laws, which are really crucial to understand if you are doing or are looking to do a food business in this city. Its laws apply to all, whether you are a home-based vendor or have your shop. Here in this article, we will look at Indiana cottage food laws and regulations for 2024 so that you can be fully aware and run your food business under the law. 

The Laws for Home Based Owners

If you sell food to end consumers in the state of Indiana, your establishment is classified either as a Retail Food Establishment or a Home-Based Vendor. Typically, individuals selling goods at farmer’s markets or roadside stands fall under the jurisdiction of home-based vendor laws. 

And for all of them, the state of Indiana has recently enacted a new law, HB 1149. The motive of the law is to introduce changes that have implications for all individuals operating as home-based vendors. Let’s know some of the major entities of this law, starting with the qualifications. 

Qualification as a Home-Based Vendor

According to the recently implemented code, IC 16-42-5.3, effective from 7/1/22, a home-based vendor is someone characterized by the following criteria:

Who is a Home-Based Vendor?

If your production occurs at the individual’s primary residence, your primary residence has a permanent structure on the same property. And, if you make, grow, or raise your own product, then you can consider yourself a home-based vendor.

As a home-based vendor, there are a lot of things that you can do, but there are very few things that you should not do, and some of those things are:- 

  • Make sure your food is safe and is not categorized as potentially hazardous.
  • Follow the proper sanitary procedures during the preparation of the food product. Otherwise, it can cost your shop to close.
  • Exclusivity in sales to end-users, with no intention for resale; individuals intending to engage in wholesale activities must obtain a separate license.

But that’s not it; let’s know this limitation in more detail.

Limitations for The Home Based Vendors

There are several limitations for Home-Based Vendors (HBVs) that you should remain aware of. 

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Separation of Activities: 

Separations of activities means you can either be a home-based vendor or a food establishment, but not both. HBVs cannot mix their home-based food production activities with those of a food establishment. If an HBV sells food products not produced at home, it transitions into a food establishment. 

Restrictions on Resale: 

No one can resell the food products from an HBV, not the HBV themselves, not their customers. Also, they must adhere to state laws and the Federal Food, Drug & Cosmetic Act, making reselling in Indiana legally prohibited.

Regulatory Examination: 

Regulatory authorities have the right to inspect HBV food products and their labelling when offered for sale, so stay prepared always. This ensures compliance with the new law and the exemption status.

Enforcement Activities: 

As a home-based vendor, you must follow many regulatory activities, including sample collection, inspection, investigation, and other enforcement actions mandated by law. It’s essential to comply with these regulations to operate within the legal framework.

What Can home-based owners Produce, and what cannot?

Producing food as a Home-Based Vendor comes with some guidelines to ensure safety and compliance. Let’s shed some light on what you can produce:-

Baked Items: Cookies, cakes, fruit pies, cupcakes, bars, yeast breads, fruit breads, and baguettes (excluding crème pies and pumpkin pies).

Candy and Confections: Caramels, chocolates, fudge, peanut brittle, chocolate-covered fruits, bonbons, buckeyes, and chocolate-covered nuts.

Produce Unprocessed fruits and vegetables like cherries, blackberries, cranberries, grapefruit, strawberries, oranges, blueberries, plums, and tomatoes.

Miscellaneous: Tree nuts, legumes, pickled cucumbers processed traditionally, in-shell chicken eggs (with Egg Board license and labelling), and certain rabbit and poultry products (with restrictions). Honey, molasses, sorghum, and maple syrup also come in the allowed food category.

Mushrooms: Grown as a product of agriculture are not restricted, but wild mushrooms need certification.

However, there are limitations as you can’t do everything and here are some examples of what you can not do:- 

Ingredients: Final HBV products must remain safe and cannot contain certain ingredients like meat, poultry, aquatic animal products, or dairy (excluding some baked items).

Special Procedures: If products include meat, poultry, rabbit, or aquatic animal products, make sure to follow specific procedures such as processing at a licensed facility or keeping products frozen.

Restrictions on Packaging: You can’t canned your food or hermetically seal your food. Also, packaging methods like “reduced oxygen packaging” or vacuum sealing remain restricted for you. 

HBVs can offer a variety of delicious and safe products for sale at farmers’ markets or roadside stands; all you have to do is follow all the Indian cottage food laws and regulations for 2024. 

Rules For Labeling

Along with the other requirements, there are some labelling requirements that you need to adhere to, so let’s know more about those as well:- 

Producer Info: The name and address of the producer.

Product Details: The common name, ingredients listed by weight, net weight, volume, and processing date.

Important Disclaimer: A clear statement (in 10-point font) saying the product is home-produced and not inspected by the State Department of Health.

Make sure to make your labels visible, whether packaged or not. Even for unpackaged items, a readable sign with the necessary info (in 10-point type) next to the product becomes a valid label. For food given as open samples, it’s considered labelled when there’s a nearby container with the same product correctly labelled. Following these rules becomes crucial for HBVs, as it keeps them transparent and gives consumers key details about their food products.

Rules for Offering Food Samples

You can offer food samples to consumers, but voila, there are rules for that, too; they must follow simple rules:

Handwashing: Have a handwashing station with a waste bucket.

Packaging: Sanitize the container or packaging for the food being sampled.

Safe Storage: Ensure safe storage and use single-portion service methods.

Market Limitations: At markets, HBVs can’t mix two products to create a new one, like combining “strawberries” and “pound cake” for a “strawberry shortcake.” These guidelines help HBVs sample food responsibly while following regulations.

Can I sell my Home-Based Vendor products directly from my home?

No, you cannot sell directly from your home. Indiana has limit the sales to farmers’ markets or roadside stands.

What types of products can I make as a Home-Based Vendor?

Specific products have the approval in the cottage law Indiana guidance document for Home-Based Vendors.

Do I need to comply with local zoning or other laws?

No, because sales occur at a roadside stand or Farmer’s Market, not at a formal “food establishment.”

Can I use commercial equipment like large mixers in my Home-Based Vendor operation?

Yes, Indiana has no limitations on the type of equipment used for Home-Based Vendor product production.

Is NSF approval required for my equipment, stove, or refrigerator?

No, as a Home-Based Vendor, you must meet NSF standards for your equipment.

The farmers’ market requires a food license, but I’m a home-based vendor. Do I need one?

No, there is no specific food license for Home-Based Vendors, but the market may have its own licensing requirements.

Are there any special requirements for my well water at home?

Ensure annual testing of well water to confirm the absence of harmful bacteria.

Are there concerns about my home’s wastewater (septic) system?

It’s advisable to have a safe wastewater (septic) system. Contact your local health department for evaluation and guidance on potential modifications if needed.

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