Ohio’s Home Bakery License: What’s Required?

Peggy Hall, Asst. Professor, Agricultural & Resource Law Program

Bakers who want to produce and sell baked goods such as cheesecakes, cream pies, custard pies or pumpkin pies in Ohio must first obtain a “home bakery” license.  These types of baked goods are considered “potentially hazardous” because they create food safety risks if not prepared and stored properly.  To safeguard against a food safety incident, the State of Ohio requires the home bakery to be inspected and licensed by the Ohio Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety Division.

What is a “home bakery”?  The home bakery license is only available for those who produce potentially hazardous baked goods in kitchens that are in homes ordinarily used by the owner as a primary residence.  A home bakery kitchen may contain only one single or double oven, which cannot be a commercial oven.  The following  situations are not home bakeries, and likely require a “bakery” license rather than a home bakery license:   the kitchen is not in a home, the home is not used as a residence, the home is not occupied by its owner, the kitchen is a second kitchen, the kitchen has multiple separate stoves or ovens, or the kitchen has a commercial stove or oven.

What’s required for a home bakery license?   The home bakery operator must apply for a license and pay a $10 license fee.  The process begins by contacting the Food Safety Division at the Ohio Department of Agriculture at (614) 728-6250.  The Division will supply an application and arrange for an inspection.  Once licensed, the operator must pay a $10 annual renewal fee.

What happens in a home bakery inspection?  An inspector from ODA will visit the home, meet with the applicant and inspect the home kitchen for the following:

  • Walls, ceilings and floors are clean, easily cleanable and in good repair;
  • Kitchen does not have carpeted floors;
  • There are no pets or pests in the home;
  • Kitchen, equipment and utensils are maintained in a sanitary condition;
  • Kitchen has a mechanical refrigerator capable of maintaining 45 degrees and equipped  with a thermometer;
  • If the home has a private well, proof of a well test completed within the past year and showing a negative test result for coliform bacteria;
  • Food product labels that meet labeling requirements.

What if the baker also produces foods that are not “potentially hazardous”?  An operator with a home bakery license may also produce and sell any food defined by Ohio law as a “cottage food.”  Cottage foods include non-hazardous baked goods such as cookies, cakes, fruit pies, brownies, breads, candies, jams, jellies, fruit butters, granola, popcorns, unfilled baked donuts, waffle cones, pizzelles, dry cereal, nut snack mixes with seasonings, roasted coffee, dry baking mixes, dry seasoning blends and dry tea blends.  Those who produce only cottage foods do not need any type of license from ODA.

What if someone operates without a home bakery license?   Failing to obtain the home bakery license can result in prosecution; the operator is subject to criminal misdemeanor charges.  Additionally, those without a license may not be able to sell their baked goods in many situations, as it is common for farmer’s markets and others to require that a vendor have the proper license.

A license is one form of food safety insurance.   Passing an ODA inspection for a home bakery license is one layer of insurance against the possibility of a food safety incident—those who satisfy ODA’s requirements have assurance that they’re using good practices.  But home bakers shouldn’t use the license as the only form of insurance.  Careful control of the home kitchen environment, continuous education on food safety practices, food product liability insurance coverage and formation of a business entity such as a Limited Liability Company are additional layers of liability protection.  Because selling food products poses a high risk of legal liability, home bakers should consider the license as just one of several requirements for operating a home bakery business.

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51 Comments

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51 responses to “Ohio’s Home Bakery License: What’s Required?

  1. Thanks for making this possible ODA! I just had my inspection not too long ago. The paragraph pertaining to what happens in a home inspection is exactly what was inspected in my home. I was a tad bit nervous but all went well. Ohio has a very generous cottage food law.

  2. I know this must be a silly question, but if I am planning to start my own home bakery for cakes, cupcakes and cookies which you have defined as “cottage goods”. I am a little confused on how I go about this. You mentioned I don’t have to have any type of license from ODA, but then in the next paragraph suggest having a license! I don’t mind paying $10 for a license, but what is recommended for someone is this circumstance?

    I know this is silly. Thank you so much for the article! It is very helpful and informative. 🙂

    • I apologize for any confusion. The recommendation for obtaining a home bakery license applies to the possibility of creating those potentially hazardous foods, such as cheesecakes and cream pies. If you want to ensure that you can produce those, go ahead and obtain the home bakery license. The home bakery license also adds a layer of oversight, in that ODA will inspect your kitchen. This could be useful for ensuring that you’re addressing food safety issues. However, if you only want to make cakes and cookies (“cottage foods”) and don’t think you’ll ever want to produce those potentially hazardous baked goods, then you don’t need to go through either the home bakery licensing or inspection process, since cottage foods are not subject to a license or inspection requirement.

  3. Mandi G

    What if I want to have a home bakery in a separate building on my property, with a commercial oven, and I have pets but they cannot get into the separate building?

    • Catharine Daniels

      That would not be allowed with a home bakery license. To operate with a home bakery license, the home bakery may only have one oven that is of “ordinary home kitchen design” – this language would exclude a commercial oven. Also, you cannot have a home bakery in a separate building. The home bakery must be in the “primary residence occupied by the residence’s owner.”

      For more information on a home bakery license, visit the Ohio Department of Agriculture’s website here.

  4. Robin Price

    Ms. Hall,
    I have started my own cookie business, and understand that I do not need a Home Bakery License for sales in Ohio. However, I would like to set up a web site so that I can market my cookies outside of the state. What type of license do I need for this?
    Thank you,
    Robin

    • Catharine Daniels

      In order to sell your cookies outside of the state, you would need to obtain a home bakery license from the Ohio Department of Agriculture.

  5. becca

    “Food product labels that meet labeling requirements” . . . what does this mean? Also, where do I look for the food product liability insurance that was mentioned?

  6. Lia

    Is there any way you could have a pet in your home but still be able to get the license? Also, I was wondering if there was an age limit for this (I’m 14).

    • Catharine Daniels

      No, if you have a pet in your home you will not be able to obtain a home bakery license. However, there are no restrictions on having a pet in the home if you are a cottage food producer. For more information on what you are able to produce as a cottage food producer, see our blog post: http://aglaw.osu.edu/blog/thu-08152013-0955/whats-considered-cottage-food-product-ohio. There are no age limits for cottage food producers or home bakery licenses that I am aware of, but you should contact the Food Safety Division at the Ohio Department of Agriculture for more information: 614-728-6250.

  7. Grace Nestor

    Hello, I am starting a business where I am selling only cakes. I am working out of my home where I also cook dinner (sometimes meat, or “hazardous” goods), But I am not selling them. Does that mean I need a license, even if I am only selling non hazardous food?

    if that is the case if I need a license- would it be possible if i got an extra kitchen oven (non commercial), and fridge where only cake is made, the cake that I sold- would that be allowed?

    Thank you, I hope that second paragraph is not too confusing.

  8. Tia

    Hello, I am a home baker. I need a license. The business is in my name only. But my mom does all the baking. Would that be a problem? Do I need to stay in the same residences as my mom. I need to sell my product out of state under my business name.

    • Catharine Daniels

      Under Chapter 911 of the Ohio Revised Code, a home bakery is defined as “any person who owns or operates a home bakery with only one oven, in a stove of ordinary home kitchen design and located in a home, used for baking of baked goods to be sold.” You may own the home bakery business and your mom can do the baking, as long as you meet the other requirements for a home bakery. You would not have to stay in the same residence as your mom. To obtain a home bakery license, you must contact the Ohio Department of Agriculture Division of Food Safety at 1-800-282-1955 to set up an appointment to have the home kitchen inspected before you can sell any products.

  9. jimandstacy@hotmail.com

    Thank you for all the valuable information. As a resident of Ohio, I would like to start a cookie/cupcake business. I will only be making cottage foods. Could you tell me what I need to do to get started?

  10. Valerie Phillips

    If a garage beneath the home is renovated, completely redone by a builder, with a separate entrance, and no pets are able to get into the newly renovated section of the home, can this be licensed as a bakery – but not a home bakery? Such as in many areas where a baker resides above his bakery? What does the newly renovated area of the home need to have done in order for it to be able to get proper licensing? Thanks!

    • Catharine Daniels

      Under Ohio Revised Code Section 911.03, it states “no new bakery shall be established unless the building plans and equipment proposed to be used have been approved by a certified building inspector, the department of agriculture, or by the board of health of the city or general health district.” There are also certain building specifications for bakeries found in ORC 911.04. Your garage likely would not meet the requirements for a bakery. Also, you would have to find out what type of zoning is permitted where your home is located. It’s unlikely you would be permitted to operate a commercial business if your home is zoned residential. For a home bakery, “home” means the primary residence occupied by the residence’s owner, on the condition that the residence contains only one stove or oven used for cooking, which may be a double oven, designed for common residence usage and not for a commercial usage, and that the stove or oven be operated in an ordinary kitchen within the residence. Having a separate area within your home where you are adding another stove would not likely be permitted under a home bakery license. For more information, contact the Ohio Department of Agriculture Division of Food Safety at (614) 728-6250 or foodsafety@agri.ohio.gov.

  11. April Distel

    Would cake pops, choc covered strawberries, choc covered Oreos be considered a “cottage food”?

    • Catharine Daniels

      Cake pops and chocolate covered Oreos are likely considered a cottage food product because non-potentially hazardous cake and chocolate covered non-perishable items are considered cottage foods. However, chocolate covered strawberries would not be permitted because that is a perishable item. To be sure, you should contact the Ohio Department of Agriculture Division of Food Safety at 614-728-6250.

  12. Is a vendors license required to sell cupcakes?

    • Catharine Daniels

      If you are selling the cupcakes from your home, then no vendors license is required. However, if you sell your cupcakes at a farmers market, then you may be required to obtain one. You would just need to check with the farmers market venue first.

  13. Brittany

    I want to start my own small business selling cheesecakes. I do have a pet therefore I am aware that I cannot sell them from my home kitchen. However, my in-laws have allowed me to use their kitchen as my home bakery, but I do not reside there. Would I be allowed to obtain a license if I use their kitchen?

    • Catharine Daniels

      Yes, you most likely would be permitted to obtain a home bakery license even though you do not reside there as long as all of the baking is done in your in-laws home kitchen that is registered as a home bakery. To be sure, and to schedule a home bakery inspection, you should contact the Ohio Department of Agriculture Division of Food Safety at 614-728-6250.

  14. Nicole Maslowski

    Hi I have a question. If am making Pumpkin Rolls Do I need one? if so how do I get an license n how long does it take to get one?please n thank you

    • Catharine Daniels

      If the pumpkin roll needs to be refrigerated, because it contains a cream cheese frosting, then you will likely need to obtain a home bakery license. To obtain a home bakery license, you need to contact the Ohio Department of Agriculture Division of Food Safety at 614-728-6250.

  15. Lori

    Hello. Can you tell me what kind of a license, if any, is needed to teach cooking classes where attendees will taste or help make various foods?

    Thank you!

    • Catharine Daniels

      There are no licenses that I am aware of, however you should definitely start by contacting your local health department to obtain more information.

  16. Brittany

    Hello. I was wondering as a home bakery are you able to produce and package your goods(cupcakes, cake slices, cake pops, etc.) from your home and sell them in small quantities in a location that has not been inspected as a food establishment? I mainly do custom cakes and would like a separate location to use for consultations and pickups. No baking would take place in this location. Just small retail sales and consults for cake orders. Thank you for your time.

    • Catharine Daniels

      In that situation, the space you describe using for retail sales and consults would likely be considered a bakery. As a bakery, you would be required to obtain a bakery license from the Ohio Department of Agriculture Division of Food Safety and be subject to inspection and other regulations found in Ohio Revised Code Chapter 911. For more information, you should contact the Ohio Dept. of Agriculture Division of Food Safety at 614-728-6250.

  17. Maisie Beary

    Ok so I am wanting to sell flavored popcorn do I need a license to do that and is there a certain age you have to be?

  18. Kay Scott

    I “cat sit” one week a year for my daugher’s cat while they go on vacation.
    Will this prevent me from obtaining a license?

    • Catharine Daniels

      You are not permitted to have pets in the home when you have a home bakery license. Since the cat is not yours, and only in your house 1 week out of the year, I would guess that you could still obtain the license, but would not be permitted to produce food to sell in your home when you are cat sitting. To find out for sure, contact the Ohio Department of Agriculture Division of Food Safety at 614-728-6250

  19. Jon Blakely

    I am thinking of making quiches from my home. I thought a home bakery license was required. However, I was told by the Division of Food Safety of the Ohio Dept.of Agriculture that quiche does not fall under the Home Bakery License. It must be made at a facility that complies with good manufacturing practices. Could a residence qualify? Also, why would a custard pie and cheesecake be part of a home bakery license requirement but not a quiche? Both use eggs and dairy and require refrigeration and could be frozen.

    Thank you.

    • Catharine Daniels

      No, a residence would not qualify as a facility that complies with good manufacturing practices. If you search for “food incubators” in Ohio, you might be able to find a facility near you where you could make your quiches.

      • Jon Blakely

        Thank you. I will check into that. I also heard back from the OH Dept. of Agriculture that any facility in my home would need a separate kitchen
        that is shut off from the house and the home must be in an area that is
        zoned for commercial operations. It is more complicated than I thought it would be.

  20. Alex

    Hello,

    I wanted to start baking and selling cookies. I have read some of the comments and the article. From what I understand, I don’t need a license and can sell cookies from my home? Or are there other steps I need to fulfill? I am not planning on creating a website, but maybe a social media account.

    Thank You!
    Alex

  21. Jennifer

    A few questions: First, would animals occasionally being in our basement garage make us fail inspection?
    Do I have to do anything special to use our own chicken eggs? They are already washed, refrigerated in a refrigerator with a thermometer at 40* and properly labeled.

    • I suggest that you call the Ohio Department of Agriculture, Food Safety Division (614-728-6250) to ask about the animals in the basement; this depends whether ODA considers the basement garage to be a part of the “home.” Yes, you may use your own eggs under the conditions you describe.

  22. Ruth

    After being approved for the home bakery license, does ohio give you a certificate to prove that you have the license?

    • Yes. If you pass the inspection, the ODA will provide you with a hard copy certificate of home bakery registration. Many farmers markets, similar venues or buyers will want to see your certificate before allowing you to sell your baked goods in their venue or purchasing your goods.

  23. Jeraldine Stewart

    I have a home bakery license. If I want to bake and package some of my cookies at a kitchen licensed by the health department some of the time, do I need to register as a bakery also?

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