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South Carolina’s Cottage Food Bill (SC 44‐1‐143 H)

SC Cottage Food Bill lawAnyone wanting to sell food under South Carolina’s Cottage Food Bill must apply to the South Carolina Department of Agriculture for an exemption from inspection and label review. A cottage food operation is a home‐based food operation that operates out of an individual’s home that prepares, packages, stores and distributes non‐potentially hazardous foods to the end consumer. The text of the full Cottage Bill (SC 44‐1‐143 H) can be found at: http://www.scstatehouse.gov/sess119_2011‐2012/bills/4689.htm

The Cottage Bill covers non‐potentially hazardous baked goods and candy that are sold directly to the end consumer. These foods cannot be sold for re‐sale. Examples of these products include: baked cookies, baked cakes, baked high‐acid fruit pies (apple, apricot, grape, peach, plum, quince, orange, nectarine, blackberry, raspberry, boysenberry, cherry, cranberry, strawberry, red currants) baked breads and candy. Note that moist quick breads like zucchini, pumpkin & banana may be potentially hazardous and may require a product analysis. See the application for a cottage exemption at:

http://agriculture.sc.gov/userfiles/file/Food%20Safety%20and%20Compliance/draft%20Cottage%20Exemption%20Application%20v4%20(2).pdf

Canned and jarred foods are not covered by the bill and are not eligible for exemption.

Potentially hazardous food are not covered by the bill and are defined as follows:

  • 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 designated as Product Assessment Required because of the interaction of their pH and water activity (Aw; moisture available to microorganisms). Examples of potentially hazardous baked goods include, but are not limited to, pumpkin pie, sweet potato pie, cheese cake, custard pies, cream pies, pastries with potentially hazardous toppings or fillings. Unless a product assessment is conducted pursuant to the 2009 Food and Drug Administration Food Code, the following are considered potentially hazardous.
    • Heat-treated packaged foods with water activity between .92 and .95 and pH greater than 5.6
    • Heat-treated packaged foods with a water activity greater than .95 and a pH greater than 4.6.

Products for sale under the Cottage Food Bill must be labeled. Labels must include:

  • Name and address of the home‐based food operation
  • Product name
  • Complete list of ingredients (including all allergens)
  • 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 production operation that is not subject to South Carolina’s Food Safety Regulations.”

Information on labeling, is available at http://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceComplianceRegulatoryInformation/GuidanceDocuments/FoodLabelingNutrition/FoodLabelingGuide/default.htm

The person who wants to produce products for sale under the Cottage Food Bill must apply for an exemption from the SC Department of Agriculture. The application for an exemption from inspection and label review is required for those who intend to manufacture their products at home and sell them to the end consumer at locations other than their home. Such locations include farmers markets, flea markets and other similar direct‐to‐consumer venues. For more information, see: http://agriculture.sc.gov/content.aspx?MenuID=98

Custom, made‐to‐order or special‐order products do not fall under the jurisdiction of the SC Department of Agriculture. Examples of these products include, but are not limited to, wedding cakes, birthday cakes, shower cakes, etc.

To qualify for a cottage food exemption from the SC Department of Agriculture, the person must:

  • Only produce non‐hazardous baked goods and candy.
  • Sell no more than $15,000 per year.
  • Sell only to the end consumer.

If a product is not listed, the person can determine if it is non‐potentially hazardous by contacting Dr. Scott Whiteside at Clemson University (wwhtsd@clemson.edu) or NC State (919.513.2090) or a commercial laboratory for analysis. A product analysis to determine interaction of pH and water activity (Aw) is required to exempt any product not listed above. Analysis will be at the expense of the cottage food operation.

For more information, contact Mrs. Kimberly Baker (kabaker@clemson.edu) or Mrs. Angie Culler, South Carolina Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Compliance Manager (803-737-9690, aculler@scda.sc.gov).

Sources:

SCDA Food Safety & Compliance website: http://agriculture.sc.gov/content.aspx?MenuID=98

Cottage Foods FAQs: http://agriculture.sc.gov/userfiles/file/Food%20Safety%20and%20Compliance/Cottage%20Food%20FAQ%20rev%201.pdf

Application for a cottage food exemption: http://agriculture.sc.gov/userfiles/file/Food%20Safety%20and%20Compliance/draft%20Cottage%20Exemption%20Application%20v4%20(2).pdf