Cottage Food Registration Frequently Asked Questions

When did the Cottage Food Law go into effect?

The new law became effective Nevada’s cottage food law (SB 206) went into effect on July 1st, 2013. The law allows many different types of food products to be sold, but it is restricted in most other ways. Operations must be registered with their health authority, but the fee for registration will vary by county.

What is a cottage food operation?

NRS 446.866  Exemption from certain requirements; certain local governing bodies prevented from prohibiting cottage food operations; registration; fee; inspection.

      1.  A cottage food operation which manufactures or prepares a food item by any manner or means whatever for sale, or which offers or displays a food item for sale, is not a “food establishment” pursuant to paragraph (h) of subsection 2 of NRS 446.020 if each such food item is:

      (a) Sold on the private property of the natural person who manufactures or prepares the food item or at a location where the natural person who manufactures or prepares the food item sells the food item directly to a consumer, including, without limitation, a farmers’ market licensed pursuant to chapter 244 or 268 of NRS, flea market, swap meet, church bazaar, garage sale or craft fair, by means of an in-person transaction that does not involve selling the food item by telephone or via the Internet;

      (b) Sold to a natural person for his or her consumption and not for resale;

      (c) Affixed with a label which complies with the federal labeling requirements set forth in 21 U.S.C. § 343(w) and 9 C.F.R. Part 317 and 21 C.F.R. Part 101;

      (d) Labeled with “MADE IN A COTTAGE FOOD OPERATION THAT IS NOT SUBJECT TO GOVERNMENT FOOD SAFETY INSPECTION” printed prominently on the label for the food item;

      (e) Prepackaged in a manner that protects the food item from contamination during transport, display, sale and acquisition by consumers; and

      (f) Prepared and processed in the kitchen of the private home of the natural person who manufactures or prepares the food item or, if allowed by the health authority, in the kitchen of a fraternal or social clubhouse, a school or a religious, charitable or other nonprofit organization.

What is meant by a private home?

"Private Home" means a dwelling, including an apartment or other rented space, where the operator resides. 

How do I obtain a cottage food registration?

An application must be completed as part of this process. The application must be submitted to the health authority and will be reviewed. You may either email the electronic version as the instructions on the top of the form specify or you can print the manual version off, complete it manually and return it in person or by mail to the Environmental Health office in Carson City.

How will I know if my registration was successful?

You will be notified of your successful registration.

What is the cost for a cottage food registrations?

Cottage food registrations are free. 

Are cottage food sales limited?

Cottage foods are limited to gross food sales of not more than $35,000 per calendar year.

What cottage foods are cottage food operators permitted to provide?

“Food item” means:

(1) Nuts and nut mixes;
(2) Candies;
(3) Jams, jellies and preserves;
(4) Vinegar and flavored vinegar;
(5) Dry herbs and seasoning mixes;
(6) Dried fruits;
(7) Cereals, trail mixes and granola;
(8) Popcorn and popcorn balls; or
(9) Baked goods that:
(I) Are not potentially hazardous foods;
(II) Do not contain cream, uncooked egg, custard, meringue or cream cheese frosting or garnishes; and
(III) Do not require time or temperature controls for food safety.

Can my cottage food item be sold on the internet?

The food is to be sold on the private property of the natural person who manufactures or prepares the food item or at a location where the natural person who manufactures or prepares the food item sells the food item directly to a consumer by means of an in-person transaction that does not involve selling the food item by telephone or via the Internet:
o This means that the food may be sold directly to the consumer from your home or from a licensed farmers’ market, licensed flea market or swap meet, church bazaar, garage sale or craft fair, provided it is done in person.
o This does not allow for selling food items via the Internet or over the phone. A cottage food vendor may advertise on the internet, but all sales to customers are required by statute to take place directly to the consumer (i.e. face-to-face transaction).

Does my cottage food registration apply to all Counties in Nevada?

This guide provides information on becoming a registered cottage food operation to produce or sell cottage food in the rural counties of Nevada. This guide does not apply to residents of Carson City, Douglas County, Washoe County and Clark County. Residents of these areas with cottage food questions should contact:
  • Carson City Health and Human Services, 775-887-2190 for Carson and Douglas www.gethealthycarsoncity.org
  • Washoe County Health District, 775-328-2400 www.washoecounty.us/health
  • Southern Nevada Health District, 702-759-0588 www.southernnevadahealthdistrict.org

Am I required to have a business license for my cottage food operation?

Business license requirements vary by county. Check with you local county officials to determine if a business license is required.

May I sample my cottage food products?

Food samples may be individually pre-portioned in closed, disposable containers at the cottage food operation kitchen for sample distribution at the sale site.

Open product sampling requires a temporary health permit to operate. Contact the Environmental Health Section location nearest to you if you have permitting questions.

May I produce flavored vinegar?

Flavored vinegar must be strained or filtered prior to bottling and may not contain any flavoring components including but not limited to the following:
o Herbs
o Fruit rinds, berries, or pieces of other fruits used for flavoring
o Vegetables of any kind including but not limited to peppers

Flavored vinegar’s pH is greatly affected by the addition of flavoring ingredients such as herbs, fruits and vegetables. When these components are included in the finished bottled product, the pH can continue to be affected by them and rise to levels that may cause spoilage, and endanger public health. Certain situations have been observed as well where pickled vegetables are being sold as flavored vinegar. To avoid this circumvention of the law and to protect public health, flavored vinegars are required to be free of flavoring components after final packaging and bottling. Producers of flavored vinegars are encouraged to display the flavored vinegar components through labeling, or on the exterior of the bottle, such as a dried herb sprig wrapped around the neck of the container.

What must I do before selling a cottage food?

Before selling foods, the cottage food operator must:

  • Register the cottage food operation with the state health authority.
  • Determine the type of durable packaging that will be used to protect the food items from contamination during transport, display, sale or purchase by consumers.
  • Design labels for the food product.

What information must be on a cottage food label?

NRS Chapter 446 includes labeling requirements of food prepared by cottage food operations. Food packaging must be affixed with labeling that prominently reads: “MADE IN A COTTAGE FOOD OPERATION THAT IS NOT SUBJECT TO GOVERNMENT FOOD SAFETY INSPECTION.”

All required labeling information should be printed prominently and conspicuously in English. Print size should be no smaller than one-sixteenth of an inch based on the lower case letter “o” and must include the following:

1. Statement of identity - the common, usual name or descriptive identity of the packaged food item
2. Net quantity of contents - net weight in ounces, pounds, or grams, or net content in fluid ounces pints or liters, or number of pieces
3. Ingredient statement - a list of all ingredients, in descending order of predominance by weight. This includes listing all ingredients of an ingredient that in itself contains two or more ingredients
4. The name and physical address where the product was manufactured, packaged or distributed
5. Declaration of any food allergen contained in the food, unless the food source is already part of the common or usual name of the product or clearly identified in the ingredient list
• Major food allergens include milk, eggs, fish, crustacean or bivalve shellfish, tree nuts, wheat, peanuts and soybeans and any ingredient that contains protein derived from any one of these ingredients or additives
• Allergen information must be included in one of two ways:
o In parentheses following the name of the ingredient, for example: lecithin (soy), flour (wheat), and whey (milk); or
o Immediately after or next to the list of ingredients in a "contains" statement. Example: Contains wheat, milk and soy

Do I have to include my home address on my product labeling or is a post office box sufficient?

You must use the physical address of your home kitchen on your product label, not a post office box. The purpose of including an address on product labels is to be able to locate the business in case of a recall or traceback associated with a foodborne illness complaint or outbreak. The Cottage Food law specifies that the name and address of the business of the Cottage Food Operation must be included on the label.

What does allergen labeling, as specified in federal labeling requirements, mean?

It means you must identify if any of your ingredients are made from one of the following food groups: milk, eggs, wheat, peanuts, soybeans, fish (including shellfish, crab, lobster or shrimp) and tree nuts (such as almonds, pecans or walnuts). So, if you have an ingredient made with a wheat-based product, you have two options:

1. Include the allergen in the ingredient list. For example, a white bread with the following ingredient listing: whole wheat flour, water, salt and yeast. In this example, the statement “whole wheat flour”, meets the requirements of federal law.

2. Include an allergen statement ("Contains:") after the ingredient list. For example a white bread, with the following ingredients: whole wheat flour, water, sodium caseinate, salt and yeast. Contains wheat and milk.

 

The "Contains" statement must reflect all the allergens found in the product. In this example, the sodium caseinate comes from milk.

Are there any special requirements for tree nuts labeling for allergens?

Yes. If your Cottage Food has tree nuts as an ingredient, you must identify which tree nut you are using.

For example, if you made Nut Bread, an acceptable ingredient list would be:
Ingredients: wheat flour, water, almonds, salt, yeast.

The following would not be acceptable:
Ingredients: flour, water, nuts, salt, yeast.

I am concerned that some of my product ingredients that are not allergens are "trade secrets" and listing all my ingredients would lead to unfair competition. Do I have to list all of my ingredients or can I protect my trade secrets?

According to federal regulations (Food and Drug Administration (FDA), 21CFR 101.100g(1)(2)), exceptions to labeling can be made. In particular, if the Commissioner of Food and Drugs finds that alleged secret ingredients are harmless, an exemption may be granted. You should contact the FDA to discuss and propose an exemption from labeling.

Am I required to send my products to a laboratory to obtain an official ingredient list, or is it something I can put together on my own?

You are not required to have your product analyzed by a laboratory to obtain an official ingredient list. You must, however, list all ingredients, in descending order of predominance by weight. If you use a prepared item in your recipe, you must list sub-ingredients as well. For example, if you use soy sauce as an ingredient, listing soy sauce is not acceptable; soy sauce (wheat, soybeans, salt) is acceptable. Allergen labeling, as specified in federal labeling requirements, must also be included.

May I prepare pickles as a cottage food item?

No. Pickled foods are a "craft food operation". Craft food operations are regulated by the Nevada Division of Agriculture. Please contact (775) 353-3600 for more information.

Can my club, group or organization register to be a cottage food operation?

No. Only individuals may register a cottage food operation. The cottage food operation must be run by a natural person and not an organization.

What are some examples of food I cannot prepare under a cottage food permit?

  • Fresh or dried meat or meat products including jerky
  • Fresh or dried poultry or poultry products
  • Canned fruits, vegetables, vegetable butters, or salsas
  • Fish or shellfish products
  • Canned pickled products such as corn relish, pickles or sauerkraut
  • Raw seed sprouts
  • Tempered or molded chocolate or chocolate type products
  • Cut fresh fruits or vegetables
  • Food products made from cut fresh fruits or vegetables, not subject to cooking
  • Food products made with cooked vegetable products
  • Garlic in Oil mixtures
  • juices made from fresh fruits or vegetables
  • Ice or ice products
  • Barbeque sauces, ketchup's and mustard
  • Focaccia-style breads with vegetables or cheeses
  • Roasted coffee products 

Are pet treats covered under cottage foods?

No. The Cottage Food law applies to human grade food only.

Can I make or sell apple butter, pumpkin butter or other fruit butters?

No. Fruit butters have significantly less sugar than a traditional jam or jelly. It is the combination of acid, sugar, pectin and heat that assures the safety of jams/jellies. In fruit butters, the combination of sugar and pectin is not large enough to assure that the butter is safe. Additionally, with lower sugar and pectin levels, spoilage organisms are more likely to survive the cooking process, which would allow for a micro-environment to develop and allow for the growth of Clostridium botulinum.

Ca I press and sell apple cider?

No. Apple cider is not a food allowed to be produced. Actually, no beverages are allowed to be produced under the Cottage Food law.

Are honey and maple syrup covered under the cottage food law?

No. Honey and maple syrup are not considered cottage foods, because state regulatory requirements and exemptions typically have some significant differences.

Can I make or sell hard candies or lollipops?

Yes. Hard candies, lollipops and peppermint candies are allowed under the Cottage Food law, as long as they are labeled correctly and completely, the label includes any allergens the product may contain, and all other provisions of the guidance are complied with.

Can I make and sell sweet breads, muffins or other baked goods made with fresh fruits and vegetables like zucchini, pumpkin, and strawberries?

Yes, as long as the fruits or vegetables are incorporated into the batter and properly baked, labeled and packaged. The baked goods may not be decorated or garnished with fresh fruits or vegetables.

Can homegrown produce be canned and used for making baked goods, like sweet breads, at a later date?

No, but you can use commercially-canned products for baked goods, like canned pumpkin, cherry pie filling, etc. Most home-canned products are not approved for production under the Cottage Food Law, with the exception of jams and jellies.

Can I make and sell dry bread or “instant” bread mixes?

Yes. Dry bread mixes are an acceptable product to produce and sell under the Cottage Food guidance document, as long as you meet all requirements of the law.

Does my chocolate fountain business qualify as a Cottage Food business? I deliver and set up the fountain, and provide chocolate dipping sauce and items to dip (cut up fruit, pretzels, etc.) that I have prepared in my home kitchen.

The type of business you have described is a catering service or food service business and is not eligible to operate under the Cottage Food law. Cottage Food products must be prepackaged and properly labeled prior to sale.

If I make and sell wedding cakes, how can I meet the labeling requirements, when I can't stick a label on the cake?

For wedding cakes, birthday cakes and other specialty cakes that are not easily packaged, you must include all labeling requirements on the invoice and deliver the invoice with the cake. Smaller cakes must be boxed, and the label must be included on the box.

Can I make and sell products from my motor home kitchen, or cottage or summer home?

The Cottage Food law applies only to non-potentially hazardous foods made in the kitchen of your primary residence. Second homes, vacation homes or motor homes do not qualify if they are not your primary residence.

Can I make products in a rented kitchen and sell them?

No. The Cottage Food law applies only to non-potentially hazardous foods made in the kitchen of your primary residence. Even if the rented kitchen is a licensed facility, you would need a food establishment license to sell your products.

Can I make Cottage Food products in an outbuilding on my property, like a shed or a barn?

No. The guidance document requires the Cottage Food products be made in your kitchen and stored in your single family domestic residence.

Where can I store ingredients and finished products for my Cottage Food business?

Ingredients and finished Cottage Food products may be stored in your single family domestic residence where the Cottage Food products are made. This includes your kitchen, a spare room or a basement that is free of dampness/water, pests or other insanitary conditions. You may not use a garage, shed, barn or other outbuilding as a storage facility for your Cottage Food business.

Can nonprofit organizations produce and sell Cottage Foods?

No. Nonprofits do not have a single family domestic residence and, therefore, do not qualify as a Cottage Food business.

Can I sell my Cottage Foods over the Internet?

No. While you can advertise your product on the Internet, you cannot take orders over the Internet and then ship directly to consumers. Sales and product delivery must be directly from the producer to the consumer, in a person-to-person transaction, and not delivered by mail.

Can I advertise my Cottage Food products on my website?

Yes. You can use your website to advertise your products or market your business, but cannot take orders or sell products via your website.

Can I sell my Cottage Foods to a wholesaler, broker or distributor?

No. Under the Cottage Food law, it is not legal for a producer to sell to a wholesaler, broker or distributor who would then resell the product.

Can I advertise my Cottage Food business in the newspaper or at trade shows?

Yes. Advertising is allowed; however, the actual sale must be made person-to-person between the producer and the consumer.

Is it possible to place my Cottage Food products in a store or restaurant on consignment?

No. Cottage Food products cannot be sold on consignment. The sale must be person-to-person, from the producer to the actual consumer.

Can I serve free samples of my Cottage Food Products?

Yes. As long as your product meets the requirements of the Cottage Food law and is a non-potentially hazardous food, sampling is allowed. Samples must be pre-packaged in your home kitchen (e.g., if you sample bread, you can't cut it at the market, but can cut it in your home kitchen and individually wrap or package the bread samples into sample cups with lids). Although you do not need an individual label for each sample, you must have properly labeled packages of your product on display with the samples so your customer can review the ingredient list. Your product cannot be cooked or prepared in a way that makes it a potentially hazardous food/temperature control for safety food (e.g., you can't add a dried dip mix to sour cream or serve anything that can't be kept safely at room temperature - these examples would require a food license).