Ohio Bakers- What Is Legal?

Business By jmbanks Updated 31 Mar 2008 , 1:10pm by MichelleM77

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jmbanks Posted 26 Sep 2007 , 11:38am
post #1 of 14

I know there are probably lots of questions on here about this but I can't find them. I am new at cake decorating and am currently doing it out of my kitchen. Right now I am baking cakes for family, friends and co-workers, but by word of mouth I am getting more people. Is it legal to do this from my kitchen or do I have to get a license. I heard something about a "cottage law" but I can't find the info about it and I can't find the laws on the ohio agriculture website. Also is it ok to put up a flyer a my work? I don't want to get in trouble for advertising w/out a license or anything. Thanks for any advice!

13 replies
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Ladivacrj Posted 26 Sep 2007 , 11:51am
post #2 of 14

Go to ohio.gov. It will give you the info you need.

You do not have to be licensed here, we have a cottage industry, but it requires that you label everything and certain things cannot to produced. You will have to look at the site for the details.

You can be inspected and licensed if you wish to at a small fee.

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smoore Posted 26 Sep 2007 , 12:03pm
post #3 of 14

Here's the information you need:
Within the chart, click on Division of Food Safety within the Home Bakery row. There will be a link on the next page for Cottage Foods.
Basically, there is just a lot of labeling (ingredients) and every label does need to state that it is "home produced". You won't be able to do fillings or cakes that are considered perishable or that require refrigeration (though you can refrigerate while the product is in your possession. There are instructions on how to label and what you are allowed to produce. On anything that I have given (business cards, price charts, etc... I always use the disclaimer on the bottom that "All products are home produced" so that anyone that does call knows up front that I'm a home baker. I also include a "disclaimer" on my labeling (above an beyond requirements) for allergy awareness. I don't want to be responsible for any allergic reactions!
One other thing -- the items you produce/sell have to be removed from your premises before consumed and you can't sell out of state. I'm near the Indiana boarder, so if someone from Indiana wants something, they need to come pick it up and buy it at my house. What they do with it after that isn't my problem, but I can't knowingly sell and deliver to someone in Indiana and accept money for it. Indiana has different rules and I'd need to follow their guidelines to sell out of state.

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Erdica Posted 26 Sep 2007 , 1:09pm
post #4 of 14

It's also best to check your zoning laws and local laws.

I've heard that some cities or Townships require you to do something as well. For that you'll have to check your local city.

There are also some places that offer like a "Home Baking" class that goes over some of the rules and explains things more. I took one and it was very helpful.

I think that Ohio is an easier state to run a business out of your home baking.

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chele_belle Posted 26 Sep 2007 , 1:40pm
post #5 of 14

I'm glad some one asked about this. I don't plan on baking for other than family or friends anytime soon but its good to know. Thanks!

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beccakelly Posted 26 Sep 2007 , 2:24pm
post #6 of 14

definitely check with local authorities. the city of cincinnati does not allow cottage foods even though the state does. its crazy, but true. fortunately im just outside the city limits and my township will allow a baking home business. thats what i was doing until i found the kitchen i rent from now. you will likely have to follow your cities/townships rules about running your biz though. they often have a lot of their own requirements such as no employees, no customers coming to your house, no signs in the yard, etc.

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jmbanks Posted 26 Sep 2007 , 2:47pm
post #7 of 14

Thanks so much for the advice. It helps alot!

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jmbanks Posted 26 Sep 2007 , 2:57pm
post #8 of 14

I actually have one more question about the labels. Is there somewhere I can go to see a sample one? And what if you use a cake mix for a cake, do you label the ingredients in the cake mix? Thanks

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donnalane Posted 26 Sep 2007 , 3:01pm
post #9 of 14


I am to posting my conversation I had via email regarding the cottage food bakers in ohio, chuck is the person who I emailed at the dept of agri and here is my convo, hopefully it answers some questions others may have that are in ohio. I wanted to make sure I was very clear on what I could and could not do so I had asked them directly. My original message to them begins at the bottom.


From: Donna
Sent: Thursday, July 05, 2007 1:21 PM
To: FoodSafety
Subject: Re: Cottage Food Production

Thanks so much chuck, that is great. I do not do anything that would
require refrigeration, just regular cakes and cookies. I do appreciate your
help, and quick response. Have a wonderful day.

----- Original Message -----
From: FoodSafety
Sent: Thursday, July 05, 2007 1:09 PM
Subject: RE: Cottage Food Production

Dear Donna: You are permitted to bake non-potentially hazardous baked goods in your home and sell them anywhere in Ohio as long as they are properly labeled. Non-potentially hazardous baked goods include baked goods that do not require refrigeration to keep them from spoiling such as cheese cakes and cream pies. Regular cakes and cookies do fall under Cottage Foods.

Chuck Kirchner

Sent: Thursday, July 05, 2007 11:47 AM
To: [email protected]
Subject: Cottage Food Production


I had a question about Cottage Food Production in the home
I live in Johnstown Ohio, I bake cookies and cakes for family
and friends and would like to take it a step further and sell these
within the Columbus area, and wanted to make sure
that the Cottage Food Rule applied to me and make sure that
I understand it correctly. I would like to bake these cakes and
cookies from my home and sell them locally. Do I fall into line
with this particular rule for baking from home as long as I do
the proper labeling and indicate that the cake or cookies are
Home Produced by labeling.

Thanks so much for your help

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Erdica Posted 26 Sep 2007 , 3:25pm
post #10 of 14

Thanks for sharing that email Donna. It helps clear up a lot of questions. Things can get confusing easily.

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smoore Posted 26 Sep 2007 , 3:31pm
post #11 of 14
Originally Posted by jmbanks

I actually have one more question about the labels. Is there somewhere I can go to see a sample one? And what if you use a cake mix for a cake, do you label the ingredients in the cake mix? Thanks

This is what my label says for the WASC cake recipe that uses a mix as a base (less my name and address, of course).

White Cake with Buttercream Frosting

Cake Ingredients: Premeasured Commercial Base*,
Sour Cream, Egg Whites, Water, Salt, Vanilla and Almond Extracts
Buttercream Ingredients: Sugar, Shortening, Butter, Milk,
Creamer (contains soy), Vanilla and Butter Extracts

Allergen Alert: Contains Milk, Soy and Eggs. *Some ingredients
may be produced where nuts are processed.

This Product is Home Produced

Of course, you've got to ensure that "This Product is Home Produced" is in the right type size (as mentioned on the website I told you about) and I put the Allergen Alert on there, though it isn't required.

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MichelleM77 Posted 26 Sep 2007 , 4:11pm
post #12 of 14

There is a sample label on the Ohio Dept. of Agriculture website with labeling requirements; what has to be on there, the size of the type, etc. Yes, you have to list all ingredients and sub-ingredients, so that would include everything listed on the side of a cake mix box.

If you spend the $10 and get licensed, then you have different rules to follow, inspections, etc.

I'm glad I live in Ohio! icon_smile.gif

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skaggs1 Posted 31 Mar 2008 , 10:09am
post #13 of 14

I have read thru the posts about labeling under the cottage law and yes i am still confused! When using the a boxed cake mix do you have to list all the ingrediants listed on the side of the box? And it also says on the ohio dept. of ag website that you have to list the net wt of the product how do i go about doing this?Does someone have a sample label that they can post on here so that i can look at to see if i am doing this right. I am just making sure that i am crossing all my t's and dotting all my i's so to speak. I have went to the website to try to get the info i need and it's clear as mud to me! Thanks in advance for all your help!

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MichelleM77 Posted 31 Mar 2008 , 1:10pm
post #14 of 14

Yes, you have to list all ingredients, including sub-ingredients. Meaning when you list flour you have to put it like this: flour (bleached wheat flour, malted barley flour, niacin, iron, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), next item, next item, etc. So for your boxed mix, you must list every single thing it says on their ingredient list. Someone could be allergic to that tiny bit of whatever and you don't want that to happen.

As far as the net weight, I'm doing cookies, so I just weigh out one of whatever I'm doing and write that on the label (I leave a blank for the weight and write it in). Same things for cakes. Gotta invest in a scale of some sort.

Might sound like a pain, but in comparison to some states, we have it easy!

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