Selling Fondant Toppers With Cottage Food Operation

Business By bandofbirdies Updated 3 Aug 2014 , 1:47am by -K8memphis

bandofbirdies Posted 18 Jun 2014 , 4:57pm
post #1 of 16

AHello!

I am curious about any legal issues that could arise out of selling fondant/gum paste cake toppers on Etsy or similar craft websites while operating a cottage food company from home. I plan to become an LLC in Virginia, but I would like to sell cake toppers/decorations on Etsy.

If I sold under my LLC name, would these count under the cottage food rules which forbid me from doing online sales? I can't find anything in rules or websites anywhere about this - VA or other states to even compare.

Also, how would you package them safety for shipping? I was thinking a little bag, wrapped in tissue paper and then pad the box in bubble wrap. They're just so fragile!

15 replies
enga Posted 25 Jul 2014 , 7:56pm
post #2 of 16

"If I sold under my LLC name, would these count under the cottage food rules which forbid me from doing online sales.

 

That's a good question. I know a few of the members here have home business's and sell cake toppers and other products on Etsy too. I'm also curious to find out how they do it.

TheItalianBaker Posted 25 Jul 2014 , 8:16pm
post #3 of 16

I think so since fondant is edible..

cupadeecakes Posted 25 Jul 2014 , 8:22pm
post #4 of 16

I have made all kinds of fondant and gumpaste toppers and I really don't think people actually eat them.  I have heard lots of clients that save them as keepsakes though.  Could you market them on Etsy as "made with edible materials, but not meant for consumption"?

FrostedMoon Posted 25 Jul 2014 , 8:31pm
post #5 of 16

Technically, since selling on Etsy you would most likely be selling across state borders, you may need to comply with federal guidelines for selling food.  For example, in my state you need to have a commercial kitchen to sell across state lines, but to sell within the state you can have a licensed home kitchen.  That being said, Etsy has a don't ask don't tell policy, so there are a lot of people who sell things they shouldn't.  Just know that if you get caught it is all on you, Etsy takes no responsibility.

AZCouture Posted 25 Jul 2014 , 8:33pm
post #6 of 16

AWhat cupadee suggested is pretty right on. If you're making clear that they're not for consumption, but just "food safe", they're just not really any different than any other handmade item for sale. Jewelry, clothing, artwork, etc. It's relatively the same thing.

AZCouture Posted 25 Jul 2014 , 8:36pm
post #7 of 16

AI can't imagine people actually look forward to eating anything like that anyways. Once it's packed up and shipped, it's relatively dried out and in some cases, definitely rock hard. I'd imagine most people are planning on displaying them only, and if people do happen to chomp into them, it's just a bonus that it's actually edible. :grin:

enga Posted 25 Jul 2014 , 9:05pm
post #8 of 16

bandofbirdies I looked into CFL in Virginia, here are few links.

 

http://loudounfarmersmarkets.org/apply/vdacs-resources-information/

 

http://forrager.com/law/virginia/

 

Taken from the above site: Advertising online is allowed, even though internet sales are not allowed.

 

Maybe you could sell them under a separate business or start a Food Processing Business in Virginia. ???

FrostedMoon Posted 26 Jul 2014 , 1:38pm
post #9 of 16

As a suburban mom of two who gets invited to a lot of birthday parties (two this weekend), I would say that A LOT of people plan to eat the etsy toppers they buy.  I've been to plenty of parties with toppers purchased from etsy and every single time they were eaten, or attempted to be eaten. I remember one in particular where my husband couldn't get over how hard and gross they were, but people still ate them.  This is especially true of cupcake toppers, and I've seen it as a problem with plastic too.  Parents diving to grab the plastic ring before their child can chomp on them.  Yuck! 

AZCouture Posted 26 Jul 2014 , 3:03pm
post #10 of 16

AYeah, so if they do get munched, well it's one hundred percent safe. I can't imagine those Etsy toppers shipping well if they were still soft, eh? Huh...and here I just wouldn't even consider chomping on them. Guess I'm too close to the business. :D

MimiFix Posted 26 Jul 2014 , 7:16pm
post #11 of 16

One of my consulting clients applied for the NY Home Processor permit. She was denied because she had an active etsy storefront. After she closed her shop, NY approved her permit. I was quite surprised that NY did any proactive cross checking.  

costumeczar Posted 27 Jul 2014 , 12:22am
post #12 of 16

I'm a licensed and inspected home-based business in Richmond VA, and I have an Etsy shop. I sell some topper-y kind of things but mostly inedible stuff.

 

If you're selling under your business that's listed in the state of VA as a cottage food law business, and it says specifically that you can't sell online under the cottage food law, I think that answers the question. If you started a different business that was inspected, or got your current business inspected, the situation would be different. But if it specifically says that online sales aren't allowed under the cottage food law then you can't sell online.

 

If you sell anything that's edible online there are regulations that involve the FDA as well as state laws, too. There are exemptions for licensed and  inspected home-based businesses, but not for uninspected ones.

costumeczar Posted 27 Jul 2014 , 12:28am
post #13 of 16

I'll also mention that people think that if you label something "not edible" on Etsy then you're safe, but if you're selling something that people would reasonably expect to eat (i.e. something colorful made from fondant that you put on a child's cupcake) then I doubt that you'd get away with it if it became an issue. I do a lot of gumpaste that I say shouldn't be eaten but those are generally wired flowers, and I'm marketing more to brides than to kids' birthday party moms.

ellavanilla Posted 28 Jul 2014 , 9:14pm
post #14 of 16

Quote:

Originally Posted by AZCouture 

Yeah, so if they do get munched, well it's one hundred percent safe. I can't imagine those Etsy toppers shipping well if they were still soft, eh? Huh...and here I just wouldn't even consider chomping on them. Guess I'm too close to the business. icon_biggrin.gif

 

When my niece was three, she ate an intricate and really pretty "sebastian the crab" figure that my husband had made for her "under the sea" cake. He had left it on the table to dry. All that was left were a couple of claws. It looked like a bird had swooped in and carried him off! When we asked why she had eaten the figure, her reply was, "because he was delicious. " LOL

 

Anyone will eat anything it seems. 

costumeczar Posted 3 Aug 2014 , 1:20am
post #15 of 16

Oh, ugh...I just got this review on Etsy for some gumpaste seashells: "Everyone gave us compliments and said how lovely they looked and my flower girl said they were delicious!"

 

So yes, people will eat them. And these were straight-up gumpaste, hard as a rock, there's no way they were delicious!

-K8memphis Posted 3 Aug 2014 , 1:47am
post #16 of 16

kids love that stuff

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