As the Small Business Librarian at the Cecil County Public Library, I am frequently asked about making food at home and selling it. According to the Maryland Rural Enterprise Development Center, in 2012 Maryland established a Cottage Food Business Law. This law allows Maryland citizens to operate a home-based food business that does not exceed $25,000 in sales and is operated in a residential kitchen. Under this law, the business does not need a license for operation from the Health Department. The law defines “cottage food products” as a nonhazardous food sold at farmer’s markets or public events. Interested entrepreneurs do need to be aware that according to the law, there are certain requirements for the food label such as, (1) the name and address of the business; (2) the name, ingredients, and net weight or net volume of the product; (3) allergen information specified by federal labeling requirements; (4) if any nutritional claim is made, nutritional information as specified by federal labeling requirements; and (5) a printed statement that the product is made by a cottage food business that is not subject to Maryland’s food safety regulations. If you have questions about this, the Maryland Rural Enterprise Development Center is a great resource.
If you are thinking about operating a small business in your residential kitchen, consider contacting the University of Maryland Cooperative Extension Office in Cecil County at 410-996-5280. The Cooperative Extension Office in Maryland provides information and workshops on selling and processing food.
For general information on starting a small business of any kind, be sure to visit the Cecil County Public Library’s Small Business Information Center (SBIC). The SBIC provides free information and assistance to local Cecil County entrepreneurs. I’ll meet with you in person and discuss how to formalize your business, write a business plan, research demographic and competitor information, and refer you to local organizations in the county that might help your business succeed.
Also, be sure to visit www.cecil.ebranch.info/small-business and discover our business databases. Our Business Plans Database provides sample professional business plans covering all industries, including cottage food businesses. Books available on this topic include: “Running a Side Business: How to Create a Second Income” by Richard Stim, “Homemade for Sale: How to Set Up and Market a Food Business from Your Home Kitchen” by Lisa Kivirist, and “Start Your Own Specialty Food Business: Your Step-
By-Step Startup Guide to Success” by Cheryl Kimball.
If you are considering small business ownership, you may be interested in attending the upcoming “Small Business Accounting Workshop” at the Elkton Library on March 20 at 6:30pm. This free program will teach participants how to anticipate and plan for taxes, how to save time and money during the start-up phase, choosing the proper type of business entity, and small business accounting tips. To register for this program, or to make an appointment to discuss your business ideas, call 410-996-5600 ext. 481 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.