Newest Sc Cottage Food Laws

Business By jenhall Updated 7 Feb 2016 , 6:34pm by -K8memphis

jenhall Posted 27 Jan 2016 , 5:45pm
post #1 of 26

Hello all!

I am looking into starting a home based bakery. I live in SC, and would like to know if there are any SC home based bakers out there that have been through the process already of getting your recipes tested and getting licensed? I've been reading up on this and understand that you have to make less than $15,000, you have to report sales taxes, what you sell has to have the right pH and AW values, your goods have to be properly labeled, and so on, etc... So is ganache a no here? Are lemon or raspberry fillings or any filling for that matter a no? Should I contact DHEC and speak to them? I'm just looking for some solid info. I've been on FB and seen the SC Cottage Food sight, and they give good info, but I want to hear from someone who's already been there and done this. I've contacted my city and know that they do allow home based bakeries at my address. I've viewed TX cottage food laws and understand they have a book with recipes in it that are non-potentially hazardous. I'll purchase the book here soon, but what else should this newbie know? I'm picking the brains of those who have gone before me and already have a home based bakery here in SC.

25 replies
-K8memphis Posted 27 Jan 2016 , 6:40pm
post #2 of 26

i'm in tn so don't mind me but you need your own particular local laws because they can differ from one street to the next  literally -- not that you won't get good info but it won't necessarily be the final answer kwim --

almost everybody else in my state can do decorated cake under the farmer's market type laws but not my county because decorated cake comes under catering unless you're in an unincorporated area -- blablabla -- and they will shut you down if you try to circumvent the rules --

so my advice is yes contact your local peeps because they are the ones who interpret the rules for you and your area -- you might benefit by establishing the relationship/s anyway if there are inspections, etc.

best to you -- hope all goes great for you

Nancylou Posted 27 Jan 2016 , 8:27pm
post #3 of 26

Kate, you're freaking me out a bit here.  I have spent the last hour re-reading cottage food laws for Tennessee after seeing your post.  Granted I am in the county just north of you, but still we are practically neighbors - and I deliver to your county.  I set up two years ago and called everyone for approval including the health department, but I am beginning to question my own legality.

Nancylou Posted 27 Jan 2016 , 8:27pm
post #4 of 26

Kate, you're freaking me out a bit here.  I have spent the last hour re-reading cottage food laws for Tennessee after seeing your post.  Granted I am in the county just north of you, but still we are practically neighbors - and I deliver to your county.  I set up two years ago and called everyone for approval including the health department, but I am beginning to question my own legality.

Jackie Posted 4 Feb 2016 , 8:19pm
post #5 of 26

this post has been restored after accidental deletion

-K8memphis Posted 4 Feb 2016 , 9:06pm
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nancylou -- no i'm sure you're fine -- i have a friend in my same county and she is legal because she's in an unincorporated area -- i'm not legal for decorated cake unless i get a business zoned address which is not where people live -- in shelby county decorated cake comes under catering not the farmer's market laws -- but the law is interpreted by the local officials -- so go with it

you're fine

lots of times center city areas are more restricted than outlying areas -- i never wanted to move enough to do it -- but you did your homework and you're fine -- no worries

Nancylou Posted 5 Feb 2016 , 5:05am
post #7 of 26

Oh good, it's back ... thank you Jackie! 

So sorry Jenhall for accidentally deleting your post, what a crazy glitch this was.  Have you learned anymore about the South Caroline Cottage Food Laws? 

Kate, thanks girl ... I was really thrown for a loop that day - had not even a clue that "cake decorating" came under the catering laws in Shelby County.  Do you think that if the frosting/filling/cake is completely non-potentially hazardous, that it could fall under the CFL?  But, if it has items like fresh fruit, perishable fillings, etc., then it would fall under the catering laws?   It does make sense about the center city area being more restricted, but still it seems unfair!

-K8memphis Posted 5 Feb 2016 , 1:22pm
post #8 of 26

nancy, my understanding is that it is more about distribution than ingredients although ingredients are not unimportant -- that it's the individual taking of orders for baked goods typically decorated particularly destined for groups of random guests at celebrations -- more of a chance for widespread health problems if not proper sanitation etc. more opportunity for multiplied issues kwim -- so if i decorated the same cake that was not pre-ordered (and I met the other rules and regulations like no pets 'in the building' for instance) then it would/could come under the farmers market rules 

do we actually have cottage laws in tn? last i was aware they were called farmers market or something like that -- but i haven't necessarily kept up lately --

and perhaps from my viewpoint it could seem to be unfair but it is a protection too for all the receptions and party goers which is not a bad thing at all -- 

i have two precious pets but they represent two very good reasons to not produce food for the masses in facilities that have pets -- especially small square footage ones -- to me the idea of making it all legal most everywhere wasn't the best idea -- has led to the last remaining tenuous legs of the baking world getting knocked out from underneath -- and i love the boutique cake producers but we've reaching the last hurrah tipping point imo and the baking and caking worlds are in free fall and a mortal reincarnation...hopefully --

perhaps a little tmi but from my house to yours it's a completely different baking world/opportunity and that's a good thing

-K8memphis Posted 5 Feb 2016 , 1:24pm
post #9 of 26

but at the same time i'm deliriously happy so many of us can be producing -- so fickle am i hahahaha

jellybeanlane Posted 6 Feb 2016 , 12:48am
post #10 of 26

Ok I'm not trying to butt in lol here but .... Is it cheaper or easier to get a permit for catering verses cottage I don't really know the difference just starting out so this is all Greek to me I am from SC but I did photography and music lol now I'm in arkansas wanting to do cakes and music lol but I might have to rethink that if I have to buy a building etc I'm not that experienced yet and no one really knows me here...

Thanks y'all for any help

Jellybean

jenhall Posted 6 Feb 2016 , 1:03am
post #11 of 26

Nancylou, l called the zoning board in my city. I found out I'm okay with zoning. I haven't attempted to call DEC yet. I'm still researching and trying to figure out the right questions to ask. Thanks you all for your help. It's greatly appreciated. relaxed.png

-K8memphis Posted 6 Feb 2016 , 2:58am
post #12 of 26

jellybeanlane-- oh my no -- cottage law and farmers market regulations are Easy and Inexpensive by comparison -- catering in my county means a properly zoned commercial address-- so instead of working out of your home you're paying monthly rent, utilities, insurance etc.  plus the initial build out --

even if you do a build out in your home or on your property -- by 'build out' i mean doing  renovation, electric, plumbing and install what's necessary to be code compliant -- you still save big time without having to pay the monthly overhead -- 

i should have explained that better in the first place

i've been in business in other locations and i've worked for many bakeries -- but i haven't worked from my current house as a cake business because it's not legal --

jellybeanlane Posted 6 Feb 2016 , 3:35am
post #13 of 26

@-K8memphis ‍ ok so if I understand this I need to get a cottage or farmers permit? Because I just bake cakes for ppl when they need one for church or for my friends sometimes not on a daily basis .... I never knew about this guess they really go nuts at Christmas with ppl cooking good to take to family dinners and friends gatherings lol... Thank you for helping me :)

-K8memphis Posted 6 Feb 2016 , 3:58am
post #14 of 26

every area and sometimes within those areas is different -- yes you need to find out what if anything is available for you

Nancylou Posted 6 Feb 2016 , 8:45am
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@-K8memphis ‍ I have only seen reference to the Farmers Market as a permissible category under the Cottage Food Law for Tennessee.   Also, I know I have read somewhere on the CFL site  that pets are allowed in the house, but they must be kept in a separate room/area away from the the kitchen.  Here is the website, maybe you will have better luck finding it:  http://forrager.com/law/tennessee/  By the way, you mentioned something about the baking and caking world "reaching the last hurrah tipping point" and that they are in a "free fall and mortal reincarnation hopefully" ... I think I understand what you are saying, but I would love to hear more of your thoughts on that - especially the "hopeful" part.  (P.S, One of these days we are going to have to meet for coffee or something). 

@jenhall ‍ Zoning was the first place I called too!  I'm sure that was a huge relief for you, because I know it was for me.  Next you need to figure out how you are going to set up your business (LLC, or Sole Proprietor, etc.) Then get an FEIN number for your Business (call the IRS for this).  Next go to your local county clerks office to get a business license (usually a nominal fee).  Then call the Department of Revenue to get squared away with registering for taxes (sales, and franchise & excise tax).   Make sure you ask the exact amount you should charge for sales tax because it's different for every city and county.  At this point the state should send you paper work letting you know what to do from here.  This may be slightly different since you are in another state, but not much.  Hang in there and let us know if you have any other questions.  Also, you will find a wealth of information at "A cake to remember" a blog run by @costumeczar .


@jellybeanlane ‍ You are in one of the easiest states to run your Cottage Food Business.  It says "no registration, inspection or training".  Here is the web site if you are interested in further reading:   http://forrager.com/law/arkansas/‍  Also, I don't know if you even need to worry about the business end of the things if you are not going to be selling your cakes.  If you are just baking for family, friends and church, you should be good to go.  



reaching the last hurrah tipping point imo and the baking and caking worlds are in free fall and a mortal reincarnation
Read more at http://www.cakecentral.com/forum/t/827810/newest-sc-cottage-food-laws#ZiOWdAGoutOal13O.99


Nancylou Posted 6 Feb 2016 , 8:58am
post #16 of 26

@jenhall ‍ You were also asking about PH and AW values, I am no help in this area, but I'm pretty sure California's CF laws require lab analysis.  Maybe you could research their CF laws for help or search through Cake Central - there are a lot of California Bakers that have discussed this topic - including the PH values of different recipes, fillings, ganache, etc.  Hope this helps.

-K8memphis Posted 6 Feb 2016 , 5:13pm
post #17 of 26
while other areas use the terms cfl the tn rules & regs call this 'domestic kitchens' and here is the link for the state guidelines


how those other websites interpret this is beside the point -- that's the state site and that law was amended in 2012


although the new law relaxes some key points it still encourages you to be properly certified in sanitation and get inspected but while they no longer require it you do have to advertise the fact by placing signage that states that this product was prepared in a non-inspected facility blablabla -- (which implies a la minute sales not sales by pre-ordering fwiw)

here's tn's ruling on pets (located in the first link) if you do get inspected or get complaints -- 

"0080-4-11-.05 GENERAL PROVISIONS. (1)  (c) No pets shall be allowed at any time in the dwelling or structure in which the domestic kitchen is located. "

then i can't find the specific thing on the catering here in most of shelby county but believe me it's there -- the health dept here has sent out their fair share of cease and desist letters -- i personally know many peeps here who have received them --

this next clearly is tmi but it's pertinent and probably only so to nancy but anyhow -- it's from a harvard study  done in 2011:

"Memphis food producers are also being stifled by the lack of clarity concerning food produced in a home kitchen. Bakers and producers of low-risk foods across the country have lobbied state legislatures to amend food processing laws to allow for small-scale production of their foods in their home kitchens. State food processing laws, following the model FDA Food Code, usually require all foods to be produced in a licensed commercial kitchen that is separate from living areas. In the past few years, however, several states have begun passing “cottage food laws” that relax the requirements for small-scale, home-based operations. Thirty-two states, Tennessee included, now allow some non-potentially hazardous foods to be prepared in a home kitchen.244 In 2007 Tennessee’s legislature passed a law that allows for the sale of non-potentially hazardous foods like baked goods and jams, which are produced in a home kitchen, to be sold at farmers markets.245 The law was amended in June 2011 to further allow these foods to be sold from the home, community events and flea markets.246 The law also allows producers to offer samples of these home-produced, non-potentially hazardous foods. Yet in the four years since the law first passed, the Memphis Food Code has not been updated to reflect the changes to state law. Bakers wanting to sell a few homemade cakes could not look to the Memphis Code to determine their legal obligations."

just illustrates our lack of action/change in these matters -- i'd venture to say it's too hard to police all these extra cakers and bakers -- so we just 'stifle them by the lack of clarity' in the first place -- heheheh -- 

re: tipping points, hope, reincarnations and coffee -- i'll wax eloquent on most of those subjects later -- but yes we do sometime soon need to sit down & have coffee coffee.png
Nancylou Posted 6 Feb 2016 , 9:37pm
post #18 of 26

Wow, I just assumed the information regarding the CFL's at Forrager.com was government run.  I looked on the TN.Gov site, and there is not one reference to the word "Cottage".  Even this press release from May of 2012 on the TN.Gov site does not mention the word, they refer to it only as the "New Law".  Who knew?  

But they did say, in reference to the "new law", that " individuals who manufacture non-potentially hazardous foods may sell them without inspection or permits at their residence, community social events, flea markets and farmers markets located in the state". 

Although if you are selling your Non-PHF's at a Farmers Market, the manager of each market has the final say regarding food safety and they can "elect to require vendors to manufacture foods for sale in an inspected and permitted facility.  Your facility and practices would need to meet all the requirements outlined in Chapter 0080-4-11 regulations for establishments utilizing domestic kitchen facilities for bakery and other non-potentially hazardous foods intended for sale."

This lack of clarity that you mentioned is spot on in what qualifies as "catering" and what qualifies as "cottage" in the State of Tennessee.   At the web site that I refer to for info on CFL's (Forrager.com), it states that "Made-to-order goods (like birthday cakes, wedding cakes, and custom cookies) may fall under catering and be regulated by the health department, in which case, they would not be allowed under this law."  It then asks that you "Contact your local health department to learn if you can produce them from home."  I feel like I'm watching a tennis match ...

I will look forward to your waxing eloquent ... and coffee.

Nancylou Posted 6 Feb 2016 , 9:50pm
post #19 of 26

Oops, forgot to link the press release.  Here it is:  https://news.tn.gov/node/8897

-K8memphis Posted 7 Feb 2016 , 1:00pm
post #20 of 26

i laughed out loud when you said 'watching a tennis match' yeah seriously -- but these guidelines are not the final word -- each locality has the final say -- like the cfl in california exactly states (last time i checked) that their cfl rules cannot be superceded by local laws -- the opposite is true in tennessee -- at my address the buck stops at the zoning board -- and for all of that i knew when i got my cat that i would not do cakes from here ... then i got the dog hahaha

MimiFix Posted 7 Feb 2016 , 1:45pm
post #21 of 26

Quote by @jellybeanlane on 1 day ago

... if I understand this I need to get a cottage or farmers permit? Because I just bake cakes for ppl when they need one for church or for my friends sometimes not on a daily basis .... I never knew about this guess they really go nuts at Christmas with ppl cooking good to take to family dinners and friends gatherings... 

To clarify - Rest easy! I hope everyone understands that in the U.S there are no restrictions if you are giving food away. However, if you are selling food (this includes taking money for ingredients, or selling but claiming to be an exempt "hobby" baker) you are required to conform to your state/county food handling laws and Federal IRS income law. Don't shoot the messenger. 

-K8memphis Posted 7 Feb 2016 , 3:07pm
post #22 of 26

mimi -- interesting but not true -- in tennessee for example charities can sell six times yearly without restriction -- despite our best intentions blanket rules across fifty states are just not applicable because each locality interprets the laws ànd it all comes out different -- just not that easy/simple -- each of us has to dig to find out how they are interpreted in our areas -- often our inquiries set in motion the interpretation -- which is why it gets so crazy -- you can easily get opposing answers from different peeps in the same department not to mention across separate agencies

"0080-4-11-.08 EXEMPTIONS. Establishments that process non-potentially hazardous foods prepared solely with the intent to sale at a single day public event no more that six times per year on non-sequential days on behalf of a non-profit institution or charity are exempt from the requirements of these rules."

this ^^^ from the first link in post 17


MimiFix Posted 7 Feb 2016 , 3:21pm
post #23 of 26


Quote by @-K8memphis on 6 minutes ago

mimi -- interesting but not true -- in tennessee for example charities can sell six times yearly without restriction 

"0080-4-11-.08 EXEMPTIONS. Establishments that process non-potentially hazardous foods prepared solely with the intent to sale at a single day public event no more that six times per year on non-sequential days on behalf of a non-profit institution or charity are exempt from the requirements of these rules."


The exemption above is for charities and non-profit institutions. My apologizes if anyone did not understand that my post refers to individuals seeking to bake for friends, family, etc. 




-K8memphis Posted 7 Feb 2016 , 5:42pm
post #24 of 26

idk -- state/county food handling laws have often been replaced with paperwork -- so in tennessee as i understand it --- bottom line is 8.5" by 11" signage with 3/4" font stating that you are not licensed/inspected plus ingredient labeling on the products -- local authorities may require more -- but you can sell (somehwere in tn) by declaring that you operate without any food handling requirements -- https://news.tn.gov/node/8897 the sixth paragraph down -- so long as all the other local agencies allow -- which they don't always --

also in ohio you can produce non potentially hazardous food items without any inspection or food handling requirements -- those are two off top of my head --

so if by conforming to state/county food handling laws means sometimes there are none then yes i see your point  -- it's hard to make broad blanket statements about 50 different state's rules & regulations --

there USED TO BE  a lot more food handling laws regarding caking but they are being eroded/changed no? i don't think cfl has been a good thing overall --

THIS is where the tipping points have tipped and the reincarnations need to begin no?

idk 



MimiFix Posted 7 Feb 2016 , 6:03pm
post #25 of 26

I'm not sure why my statement was so difficult to understand. Individuals giving food away are not subject to business requirements. The "broad blanket statement" is quite simple: If someone sells their products, they should conform to any laws that govern their area. Clearly, if they live in certain areas, such as Ohio or TN or anywhere else in the U.S. with lax rules, then (lucky them!) they follow those rules. I actually know of people who have chosen where to retire based on states with lax rules. 

-K8memphis Posted 7 Feb 2016 , 6:34pm
post #26 of 26

that's a good question -- this is funny -- it was difficult because it sounded easy hahahaha -- it just ain't that easy --

i had a girl contact me once who wanted to know where was the better location to move around here in this tri-state area -- she wanted memphis because the health department said she could do cakes -- i said yeah but the zoning guys won't allow it in the cities here that is -- she's like but the health dept gave me the green light -- doesn't matter says i -- so i think i convinced her to do some more digging -- because it's allowed for nancy a few miles away and another friend out in my county but not for my address esp with my pets now --

discerning the laws rules and regulations that govern our areas is the problem -- it can be straight forward or it can be quite an adventure -- simply following state and county food handling is just a small part of it -- and yeah you gotta pay taxes --

idk

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