The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Michigan Cottage Law

Candymaker's picture

Michigan Cottage Law

I am not a Baker, but I am trying to start a candy business about the Michigan Cottage Law and your forum seems to be the only one with any information about it.  I called the MDA today and talked with 3 different people, all 3 heard of the law, but didn't know anything about it.  Anyhow, I would like to know if anyone knows where we can sell our homemade products?  The Cottage Law says you can sell at Farmers Markets, but this is not true.  I've called four of them in my surrounding counties and they all say that I need my commercial license to be selling food products. I would appreciate any advise.....

arlo's picture

I live in Michigan and work in a professional bakery and have played with the idea of selling my own goods at farmers markets that I bake in store from time to time on my own personal time (that's a lot of time right?).

Here is what is required, the source is from the MDARD, the link follows;

Michigan Department of Agriculture Cottage Food Labeling Guide
Sample Label
At a minimum all packaged food prepared under the Cottage Food Law must have the following on the package label.
1. The statement printed in at least 11 point type (1/8th inch) “MADE IN A HOME KITCHEN THAT HAS NOT BEEN INSPECTED BY THE MICHIGAN DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE.”
2.    The name of the food. Eg: “Chocolate Chip Cookie” or “Banana Bread”

3. The complete name and address of the cottage food business
including name, street address, city, state and ZIP code.
4. The ingredients in the cottage food product beginning with the largest ingredient by weight and listing in descending order to the smallest ingredient by weight. You must also make sure you are listing all of the constituent ingredients of an ingredient. For example: if you list the ingredient “soy sauce” then you must also list all of the ingredients contained in the soy sauce in parenthesis after “soy sauce.” Other important points to consider when listing ingredients are: stating whether any ingredients or flavorings are artificial or natural; listing all chemical preservatives and their function (e.g.: “preserved with sodium benzoate;” listing all sulfating agents in the product such as sodium metabisulfite or “sulfur dioxide;”) listing the source of all oils or shortening; (e.g.: canola oil, corn oil, lard and not just stating “vegetable oil).” You must also be sure to state the actual ingredients used and not say: “May contain_____”, and then list several different ingredients.
Chocolate Chip Cookie
Artie Pinkster 123 Foodstuff Lane Casserole City, MI 82682
Ingredients: Enriched flour (Wheat flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamine, mononitrate, riboflavin and folic acid), butter (milk, salt), chocolate chips (sugar, chocolate liquor, cocoa butter, butterfat (milk), soy lecithin as an emulsifier), walnuts, sugar, eggs, salt, artificial vanilla extract, baking soda Contains: wheat, eggs, milk, soy, walnuts
Net Wt. 3 oz
July, 2010    1
Michigan Department of Agriculture Cottage Food Labeling Guide
5. The net weight or net volume of the product.If something is either a solid or a thick product, then it would be sold by weight (e.g.: “Net Wt. 8 oz.” or “Net Wt. 2 lbs.” If the product is a liquid and an easily pourable food, then it would be sold by fluid ounce or volume (e.g.: “12 fl. oz.”, “1 qt.”, “32 fl. oz.”)
6. Allergen Labeling.Eightcommonallergenscause90percentofallfood allergies and must be listed on a packaged food label. These common allergens are: Wheat, Milk, Eggs, Soy, Tree Nuts (must state the specific nut), Peanuts, Fish (specific fish) and Crustacean Shell Fish (specific shell fish). These items or ingredients derived from these items must be stated using the common name and may be listed in the ingredient list statement or in a separate listing after the ingredient list. For example: “Contains:____.” [Note: manufacturers must be particularly mindful of allergenic ingredients that do not bear the name of the allergen in the name of the ingredient, e.g.: wheat flour and not just “flour,” casein instead of milk casein, whey instead of milk whey or albumen instead of egg albumen.]
7. NutritionFacts.If any nutritional claim is made on the food label,then full Nutrition Facts labeling as required by federal law must be applied to the package label. Examples of nutritional claims include, “low sugar,” “low sodium,” “good source of calcium or fiber.”
You also need to make sure all labeling is correct and truthful and avoid any statements that may be considered false and misleading. This is particularly important if you want to use the term “organic.” You should be aware the Federal Organic Foods Production Act and the Michigan Organic Products Act, PA 316 of 2000 require retail food establishments advertising as organic, labeling as organic, or making organic claims about a final product, their operation, or a particular part of their operation are required to be certified by a certifying agent who is registered to certify that production or handling operations are meeting organic standards. You should also be aware using these claims without certification may result in enforcement action being taken by either State or Federal authorities.



Maybe just those farmers markets are uninterested in carrying homemade goods to protect themselves encase of any mishaps.

Sorry about the sloppiness of the post, but for a better version, click the pdf link.

LindyD's picture

Here's a link to two MDARD pdf files which you can print keep with you.  One is a FAQ about the law and includes info as to where you can sell (farmers market are listed).  The other shows what you must state on your label.   MDA contact info is also included at that site.

In case you want to print the Michigan statute (miight be a good idea for educational purposes), it  is MCL 289.4102.

It may be that the folks you contacted are simply uninformed.  If you are dealing with the manager of a farmers market and he/she continues to refuse  to allow you space even after reading the current Michigan law, ask for a copy of their written requirements for participation.

Most farmers markets in Michigan need the approval of village/city/county governments in order to operate, so it might just be a simple matter of informing the government officials of current law so they in turn can inform their market managers.

Good luck in dealing with those bureaucrats!

jillybeansisme's picture

This post was beautifully and thoroughly answered.  I just wanted to add that the Farmer's Markets might have been talking about preparation in a Commercial Kitchen.  The Farmer's Market I plan to sell in requires that.  Often times you can rent space by the hour or the night from the Elks Lodge, a restaurant closed at night, a church kitchen, etc.  Hope this sheds further light for you.  Best of luck!