Gay Jones & Kuhn Small Business Series
MISSISSIPPI COTTAGE FOOD LAW: CHANGES AND UPDATES
January 29, 2021
Good News for Cottage Food Sellers in Mississippi
We are all looking for good news from 2020, and we have some to share for those operating or thinking of opening a new small business selling food in Mississippi. In January of last year, we shared some insights into Mississippi Cottage Food Law. Our post ended with us joining in a plea for change in Mississippi. Well, it happened during the 2020 legislative session. Legislation was introduced and enacted updating the laws related to the sale of food from a small home business.
Whether you already have a home-based food business, or you are thinking about growing a side-gig to make some extra money, the rules just got a little better on some things. The new cottage food law went into effect on July 1, 2020 and expands the list of foods you may sell out of your home. Also, you can now advertise your cottage food products on the internet, but no internet sales are allowed. More on changes proposed in 2021 to follow.
What is Cottage Food?
Cottage Food (Mississippi)
Cottage Food products are specific types of foods that you make in the kitchen of your private home. Not all food products can be sold as Cottage Food products. They must be non-potentially hazardous foods that do not require time and/or temperature controls for safety. You must also store your Cottage Food Products in your home following safe food handling guidelines outlined in the U.S. FDA Retail Food Code to prevent adulteration caused by insects, household chemicals, water damage, unsanitary conditions, etc. Food sold and/or packaged in your home is only legal if it is allowed under the cottage food law.
Mississippi Department of Health, Rev. July 2020
What types of foods qualify as “cottage foods” under Mississippi law?
The state provides a specific list of what can be sold. The law follows the safe foods list which is published by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). And, if it requires refrigeration at the time of sale or requires refrigeration after opening, it is prohibited.
Baked goods without cream, custard, or meat fillings, such as breads, biscuits, cookies, pastries, and tortillas
Chocolate-covered nonperishable foods, such as pretzels, nuts, and fruit (except for melons)
Dried fruit (except for melons)
Dry baking mixes
Granola, cereal, and trail mixes
Fruit pies, jams, jellies, and preserves that comply with federal law
Vinegar and mustard
Acidified products which meet federal regulations
If the food you want to sell isn’t on this list, you cannot make it and sell it from your home kitchen.
Labeling Your Cottage Food Product
To be compliant, you must have proper labeling on your products. What classifies as proper labeling? The label must have: (1) the name and address of the cottage food operation, (2) the name of the food product, (3) the ingredients, (4) the weight, (5) allergen information, and (6) the words “Made in a cottage food operation that is not subject to Mississippi’s food safety regulations.”
Cottage Food Sales Capped
A business or individual cannot make more than $35,000 in yearly gross sales. This amount was increased from previous limit of $20,000. It is important to keep track of your sales and spending related to your cottage food business.
Homebased businesses are not exempt from city, state, or municipality taxes, or regulations. There is a chance you need a permit to operate the business out of our home. These are usually inexpensive and simple to obtain.
Social Media YES! Internet Sales NO!
One of the biggest changes is the ability to market your cottage food on social media. Having a professional social media presence is a great way to grow your business quickly. For help developing a plan, contact GJK.
And this may be changing too. Representative Shanda Yates, who has been very interested in pushing small business issues for Mississippians, introduced a bill in the 2021 session to change the restrictions on internet sales. HB562 would change the law to allow cottage food sellers to have internet sales. http://billstatus.ls.state.ms.us/2021/pdf/history/HB/HB0562.xml It is a big step. We reached out to Shanda to ask her about the bill, “as I think most everyone is aware, we use the internet daily in 2021. There’s simply no legitimate reason for the legislature to regulate how I pay for a jar of jelly.” She went on to say, “I honestly thought this would be a no brainer.” Unfortunately, the bill is hitting roadblocks. It is unclear why some legislators do not support the measure. If you are interested in cottage food internet sales, Shanda suggests you reach out to legislators.
How do you do that?
Below is the link to the directory for the legislature. Call or email them before next week to tell them HB562 is important.
To read the full text of the new law, click here. Gay Jones & Kuhn is here to help you understand what the new law means, make sure you are in compliance, and grow your business. It is better to follow the rules now than to get shut down later. For more information, visit https://msdh.ms.gov/msdhsite/_static/30,0,77,620.html