Homestead License is NOT required (Exempt)
Selling Homestead Food Products in New Hampshire
Starting a homestead food business is a dream of many home cooks. Beginning small, in your own kitchen, with shelf-stable baked goods and other allowed foods is a practical way to try out this venture.
There are some food safety and legal requirements that will help to create a delicious and safe product. This fact sheet, developed from New Hampshire Food Protection Section guidance, can help to get you started.
You may sell homemade, "homestead" or "cottage" foods in New Hampshire without requiring a Homestead Food License, if you meet certain food safety and sales limit requirements:
1. What kind of foods can I sell?
You can sell foods that do not require Time and Temperature Control for safety (non-TCS foods). In the regulations, these low risk foods are also called non-Potentially Hazardous Foods.
This means you can sell baked goods, candies and foods listed below that do not require refrigeration to keep them safe.
Foods you can sell include:
- Breads, rolls
- Double crusted fruit pies
- Packaged dry products, which include spices and herbs
- Baked goods
- Sweet breads
- Roasted whole bean coffee or ground coffee
- Acid foods, including vinegars, mustards, and BBQ sauces (process review required for these foods to determine if they are naturally acid foods or are acidified foods. Acid foods may be produced in a homestead kitchen, acidified foods must be produced in a commercial kitchen). [See Note #1]
- Jams and Jellies (only those made with the exact recipes from the National Center for Home Food Preservation https://nchfp.uga.edu). Exception: Jellies containing peppers must undergo a process review even if they are from the National Center for Home Food Preservation (NCHFP). A process review is also required if you use your own recipe or “tweak” a recipe found on the NCHFP website.
- Baked goods made with produce such as zucchini, pump- kin and banana [Only allowed if they have been tested to be low moisture (water activity less than 0.85). [See Note #2]
- Homemade buttercream or cream cheese frosted baked goods are only allowed if they have been tested and found to have a pH less than 4.6 and water activity less than 0.85.
Note #1: A Process Review is conducted by a food processing authority on each product prior to its being produced by the homestead food processor. The food processing authority declares in writing whether there are biological food safety concerns with the food. Products that are classified as acid foods and foods that have low water activity (below 0.85) can be produced in the homestead.
A list of food processing authorities is available at http://www.dhhs.nh.gov/dphs/fp/sanitation/documents/processing-faqs.pdf
Note #2: Water Activity Test Moist quick breads like zucchini bread, pumpkin bread and banana bread may be considered TCS foods- needing refrigeration for safety- and cannot be made in a home kitchen, unless they have been tested to be safe. To determine if it is safe, it can be tested for water activity through the NH Public Health Laboratory by calling 603-271-4661.
2. Foods must be sold individually packaged or wrapped and properly labeled.
See #6 below.
3. What foods am I prohibited from making in a homestead kitchen?
Potentially hazardous foods not allowed to be made in a homestead kitchen include processed acidified and low-acid canned foods such as
More examples of Potentially Hazardous Foods:
- Meat (beef, pork, lamb)
- Poultry (chicken, turkey, duck)
- Fish - Shellfish and crustaceans
- Milk and dairy products
- Cooked, plant-based foods (e.g., cooked rice, beans, or vegetables)
- Baked potatoes
- Cut fruit
- Cut vegetables and leafy greens
- Raw sprouts
- Tofu and soy-protein foods
- Garlic/herb and oil mixtures
4. Where can I sell my food products?
You must sell your food:
- from your own residence
- from your own farm stand
- at a farmer’s market
- at retail food store
5. What is the limit on sales before I need to get a license?
You must not exceed maximum gross sales of $20,000. Accurate records should be kept and maintained, including sales records.
6. How must I label my Homestead Products?
You are required to label your individually packaged products with the following information:
- Name, Address, Phone Number of the homestead food operation
- Name of the homestead food product
- The ingredients of the homestead product, in descending order by weight
- The name of each major food allergen contained in the food unless it is already part of the common or usual name of the respective ingredient already disclosed in the ingredient statement
Major food allergens:
Fish (e.g., bass, flounder, cod)
Crustacean shellfish (e.g., crab, lobster, shrimp)
Tree nuts (e.g., almonds, walnuts, pecans, coconut)
5. The label must also state in at least 10-point font
"This product is exempt from New Hampshire licensing and inspection."
6. Product code which identifies the product with a batch number.
Note: this number can be your "baked on" date.
For More Information:
Food Processing Authority University of Maine - Beth Calder firstname.lastname@example.org 207-581-2791 https://umaine.edu/foodandagriculture/process-product-review-testing
Floor plan review
NH Food Protection Food Safety and Defense Specialist -
Royann Bossidy email@example.com 603-271-3989
NH Food Protection Frequently Asked Questions about Homestead Food Businesses https://www.dhhs.nh.gov/dphs/fp/documents/homesteadfaq.pdf
New Hampshire He-P 2300 Sanitary Production and Distribution of Food http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/rules/state_agencies/he-p2300.html
Retail food establishments - commercial kitchens
UNH Extension Food Safety Field Specialists
Mary Saucier Choate - firstname.lastname@example.org, 603-787-6944
Ann Hamilton - email@example.com, 603-447-3834
Funding for this project by USDA-NIFA Award 2018-70020-28876.
Created: July, 2020, by Mary Saucier Chote, UNH Extension Field Specialist, Food Safety.
Special appreciation to Royann Bossidy of the NH Food Protection Section for her insights and guidance in putting together this 3-part fact sheet series.