www.clemson.edu/extension/hgic/

South Carolina’s Home-Based Food Production Law (Cottage Food Law)

Cookies that fall under the Home-Based Food Production Law.

Cookies that fall under the Home-Based Food Production Law.
Kimberly Baker, ©2018, Clemson University

Food producers who want to sell food under South Carolina’s Home-Based Food Production Law, must follow the guidelines set forth by South Carolina’s Code of Laws 44-1-143. This law is separate from DHEC’s SC Regulation 61-25 “Retail Food Establishments.” Home-Based Food operations are individuals preparing non-potentially hazardous baked foods and candy in their home and distributing those items to the end consumer.

How Do I Qualify?

No retail food establishment permit is required so long as all food production is in the home kitchen. Once you move out of your home kitchen to prepare products, a permit issued by SCDHEC is required. Additionally, you may only sell to the end consumer (i.e. the person who intends to eat the food). You may not sell to a retail food establishment or sell your products at a retail food establishment (this includes permitted mobile food units). You may sell your product at venues such as farmer’s and flea markets.

Foods Covered and Not Covered Under SC Home-Based Food Production Law

The Home-Based Food Production Law covers non-potentially hazardous baked goods that are sold directly to the end consumer. These foods cannot be sold for re-sale. Note that moist quick breads like zucchini, pumpkin, and banana may be potentially hazardous and may require product analysis. Canned and jarred foods are not covered by the law and are not eligible for exemption. Contact SC DHEC at 803-896-0640 for more information.

DHEC Defines Candy As:

  • Candies and confectioneries (confectioneries are candies, delicacies or sweets that have sugar as a principal ingredient, combined with coloring matter and/or flavoring). Candies have low water content and do not require refrigeration for safety.
  • Candy coated nuts
  • Candy coated dried fruits
  • Candy coated popcorn
  • Cotton candy
  • Candy apples
  • Popcorn balls
  • Chocolate-covered high-acid uncooked fruits such as strawberries, cranberries, or cherries are considered non-potentially hazardous.
Yeast Bread which falls under the Home-Based Food Production Law

Yeast Bread which falls under the Home-Based Food Production Law
Kimberly Baker, ©2018, Clemson University

DHEC Defines a Baked Good As:

  • Loaf breads
  • Rolls
  • Biscuits
  • Baked cookies
  • Baked granola
  • Baked cakes
  • Baked high-acid fruit pies (apple, apricot, grape, peach, plum, quince, orange, nectarine, blackberry, raspberry, boysenberry, cherry, cranberry, strawberry, red currants). NOTE: These products are not allowed unless product testing demonstrates that these products are non-potentially hazardous – therefore not requiring refrigeration for safety.

Potentially hazardous foods are not covered by the law and are defined as follows:

  • Canned or pickled vegetables
  • Raw or heat-treated animal foods
  • Heat treated plant foods or raw seed sprouts
  • Cut melons
  • Cut leafy greens
  • Cut tomatoes or mixtures of cut tomatoes not modified to prevent microorganism growth or toxin formation
  • Garlic-in-oil mixtures not modified to prevent microorganism growth or toxin formation

Certain foods are designated as Product Assessment Required because of the interaction of their pH and water activity (Aw; moisture available for microorganisms to grow in the food).

Examples of potentially hazardous baked goods include, but are not limited to:

  • Pumpkin pie
  • Sweet potato pie
  • Cheesecake
  • Custard pies
  • Cream pies
  • Pastries with potentially hazardous toppings or fillings (apple, apricot, grape, peach, plum, quince, orange, nectarine, blackberry, raspberry, boysenberry, cherry, cranberry, strawberry, red currants).

Unless a product assessment is conducted pursuant to the SC Regulation 61-25, the following are considered potentially hazardous:

  • Heat-treated packaged foods with water activity greater than 0.92 and a pH greater than 5.6
  • Heat-treated packaged foods with a water activity greater than 0.95 and a pH greater than 4.6

Foods NOT Covered under SC Home-Based Food Production Law:

  • Fresh, dried, or cured meats or poultry (jerky)
  • Canned or jarred fruits, vegetables, salsas. Standard recipe jams and jellies (ONLY) made from high-acid fruits (fruit, sugar, and pectin only) are allowed under SC Reg. 61-25 section 8-301.12(A)(12) without a retail food establishment permit.
  • Fish or shellfish
  • Canned or jarred pickled products (chow-chow, relish, pickles)
  • Raw seed sprouts
  • Refrigerated baked goods
  • Vacuum sealed products
  • Tempered and/or molded chocolate (fudge may be allowed under SC Reg. 61-25 section 8-301.12(A)(12) without a retail food establishment permit. Other forms of fudge, such as fudge sauce, may require product assessment to determine whether they can be allowed under 8-301.12(A)(12).
  • Milk and dairy foods (yogurt, cheese, milk)
  • Cut fruits or vegetables
  • Cooked vegetable products
  • Dried spices or herbs
  • Garlic or herbs in oil mixtures
  • Juices
  • Ice/ice products
  • Bar-B-Q sauces, ketchups, mustards, or marinades
  • Focaccia style breads (moist quick breads like zucchini, pumpkin, and banana)

If a product is not listed, the person can determine if it is non-potentially hazardous by contacting Dr. Kimberly Baker (kabaker@clemson.edu) or Adair Hoover (cpope@clemson.edu). A product analysis to determine the interaction of pH and/or water activity (Aw) is required to exempt any product not listed above. Analysis will be at the expense of the home-based food operation.

To sell non-potentially hazardous baked goods and candy under the law, the producer is required to follow all regulations as stated under the law and enforced by DHEC. However, registration with DHEC is not required to sell these items under the Home-Based Food Production Law.

Labeling

Products for sale under the Home-Based Food Production Law must be labeled. Labels must include:

  • Name and address of the home-based food operation
  • Product name
  • Complete list of ingredients (it is suggested that allergens be listed, but not required)
  • Net weight (must be provided in both customary and metric measurements)
  • A conspicuous statement printed in all capital letters and in a color providing a clear contrast to the background that reads “NOT FOR RESALE-PROCESSED AND PREPARED BY A HOME-BASED FOOD PRODUCT OPERATION THAT IS NOT SUBJECT TO SOUTH CAROLINA’S FOOD SAFETY REGULATIONS.”

Additionally information on labeling is available at http://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceRegulation/GuidanceDocumentsRegulatoryInformation/LabelingNutrition/ucm2006828.htm .

Additional Information

For more information, contact Dr. Kimberly Baker (kabaker@clemson.edu) or Adair Hoover (cpope@clemson.edu).

Questions regarding the Home-Based Food Production Law should be directed to DHEC Division of Food Protection (803-896-0640)

Sources:

  1. South Carolina Regulation 61-25. http://www.scdhec.gov/FoodSafety/Docs/NewRegulation/Regulation 61-25.pdf

If this document didn’t answer your questions, please contact HGIC at hgic@clemson.edu or 1-888-656-9988.

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