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In this page you will find a list of the most common questions and answers related to the Division of Food Safety You can also fill out a feedback and/or contact form for further assistance in the help section of the website.

The Division of Food Safety inspects Ohio food manufacturers and processing plants. Food Safety also inspects food warehouses, home bakeries and small egg processors. If you are interested in making your own food and selling it, please visit our Starting a Food Business page for more information. 

If you are thinking about opening a food business, there may be regulatory requirements that you will need to meet. Some of these requirements apply to all food businesses, and some are specific to the particular food product or where you plan to operate your business. More details.

Answer the following questions to determine what licensing you will need

  1. Do you want to make a food using beef, pork or poultry in your product?  If so you must contact the Ohio department of Agriculture, Division of Meat Inspection at 614-728-6260.
  2. Do you want to make a dairy product such as cheese, butter, yogurt or ice cream?  If so you must contact the Ohio Department of Agriculture, Dairy Division at 614-466-5550.
  3. Do you want to make pet food?  If so you must contact the Ohio Department of Agriculture, Division of Plant Industry at 614-728-6270.
  4. Do you want to make meals in your home?  If so you must contact your local health department.  

If your answers to the above questions are "No", please read below

If you want to make and sell food from the site of production such as a restaurant or grocery store you will be regulated by your local health department.  

If you want to make food and sell it away from the site of production you will be regulated by the Ohio Department of Agriculture, Division of Food Safety (ODA, FS).

If you want to make food and sell from the site of production and away from the site of production you will be regulated by both your local health department and by ODA, FS.  There are two exceptions:

1)If you are canning or bottling a non-alcoholic drink product you are always regulated by ODA, FS, regardless of where the product is sold.

2)If you are a bakery you need to sell more than fifty percent of your product away from the site of production before ODA, FS becomes involved.

You will need to contact your local health department. The local health department is the agency who is responsible for licensing and inspecting the food service operations in their jurisdiction. To find the contact information for your local health department, click here.

Visit the Ohio Department of Health's website, enter your address and you will be provided contact information for your local health department. 

Some food items are allowed to be made in the home and offered for sale.  They are cottage food items and home bakery items. 
Cottage food items are those foods allowed to be made in a person’s home without regulatory oversight.  A list of cottage foods and the rules governing them can be found here. 

A home bakery license allows potentially hazardous bakery items (items which need refrigeration) to be made in a person’s home. Your home kitchen will need to be inspected by ODA, FS.  You cannot have pets in the home, nor carpet in the kitchen, and if you have a non- municipal water supply you must have a water test conducted within the last twelve months demonstrating that your water is negative for Total Coliform. You will also need an accurate thermometer in your refrigerator to indicate the refrigerator can hold product at 45° Fahrenheit or less.  The specialist will also review your product labels.  A home bakery license is $10 per year and it is renewed every September.  To schedule an inspection fill out the Request for Inspection Form or email foodsafety@agri.ohio.gov.

There are two options for baking in your home.  One is as a cottage food production operation; the other is as a licensed home bakery.

Bakery items that do not require refrigeration, such as breads, cookies and fruit pies can be made in your home as a cottage food. A cottage food is allowed to be made in a person’s home without regulatory oversight.  A list of cottage foods and the rules governing them can be found at here. There are also labeling requirements for a cottage food which are available here.

A home bakery license allows potentially hazardous bakery items (items which need refrigeration) to be made in a person’s home. Your home kitchen will need to be inspected by ODA, FS.  You cannot have pets in the home or carpet in the kitchen, and if you have a non- municipal water supply you must have a water test conducted within the last twelve months demonstrating that your water is negative for Total Coliform.  You will also need an accurate thermometer in your refrigerator to indicate the refrigerator can hold product at 45° Fahrenheit or less.  The specialist will also review your product labels.  Information on labeling can be found on our Home Bakery Resource Page.

A home bakery license is $10 per year and it is renewed every September; to schedule an inspection call 614-728-6250.

Egg noodles cannot be produced as a cottage food.  To produce egg noodles in your home you will need to have a home bakery license from ODA, FS.  Egg noodles are considered potentially hazardous and must be kept and sold as a refrigerated item.  To sell your egg noodles at a farmers’ market you will need a license from your local health department.  Contact information can be found here

There are two options for making donuts in your home.

1) As a cottage food producer, you may make unfilled, baked donuts in your home.  For more information you can visit our Cottage Food Resource Page or review the laws regarding cottage food production.

2) As a licensed home bakery you may make all types of donuts in your home.  For more information, visit our Home Bakery Resource Page.

As long as the fruits and vegetables are whole and intact there is no regulatory oversight on their sale.  They may be sold at a farm market, farmers’ market, roadside stand and to licensed food establishments such as restaurants and grocery stores.
Wild harvested mushrooms may not be sold within the state of Ohio.

A facility producing raw seed sprouts must be under inspection by ODA, FS, so that the sprouts can be offered for sale.

All canning operations are licensed and inspected by ODA, FS, regardless of where the product is sold.  All facilities must meet Good Manufacturing Practices. The only exception is for a cottage food operation that produces jams, jellies and fruit butter.

If you are producing a naturally high acid canned food, you will need to have your product tested to determine the actual pH before calling the Division of Food Safety for an inspection.

If you are producing an acidified canned food or a low acid canned food you must attend Better Process Control School, have your product evaluated by a process authority, register with the FDA as a cannery and file your process with the FDA before you call ODA, FS for an inspection.   You can contact the division at 614-728-6250.

A naturally high acid canned food is a food that has a natural (without the addition of acid) pH of 4.6 or below.  Example: tomato based products
An acidified canned food is a low acid food to which an acid or acid food has been added.  Example: pickles

A low acid canned food is a food that has a pH greater than 4.6 and a water activity greater than 0.85.  Example: green beans
Information on Better Process Control School can be found at: http://www.fpa-food.org/content/BPCS.asp

A process authority is someone the FDA recognizes as knowledgeable in food processing.  You can contact the Division of Food Safety at 614-728-6250 for more information.

To register with the FDA as a cannery go to:  http://www.fda.gov/downloads/AboutFDA/ReportsManualsForms/Forms/UCM076778.pdf

To file a process with the FDA go to: http://www.fda.gov/downloads/AboutFDA/ReportsManualsForms/Forms/UCM076784.pdf

Your operation must be inspected by ODA, FS.  You are required to have mechanical refrigeration to hold your packaged eggs at 45° Fahrenheit or less and you must have correct labeling on your egg cartons.  All cartons must state the following:

1) Name and address of the packer
2) Accurate statement of quantity in terms of numerical count
3) Date the eggs were placed in the carton
4) Correct grade and size or state ungraded and mixed size
5) Safe handling instructions, which should be shown as follows

The statement must appear on the label prominently, conspicuously, and in a type no smaller than one-sixteenth of one inch.  The statement must appear in a hairline box and the words “safe handling instructions” must appear in bold capital letters.

Egg cartons can be reused as long as all information on the carton is pertinent to the eggs in the carton.  All information that does not relate to those particular eggs must be marked out.  This could be information such as brand name and inspected by USDA.

There is no charge for inspection of operations with 500 or fewer laying hens.

Eggs may be sold from the site of production without an inspection.

Operations with more than 500 laying hens must be inspected by ODA, FS and must comply with Good Manufacturing Practices

Your egg operation does not necessarily need to be registered by ODA, FS.  However, if you want the option of selling to restaurants or retailers your operation must be registered. The eggs must be held at 45° Fahrenheit or less while at the auction.

Registered farm market means a producer operated facility where only one or more of the following food items are offered for sale:

1) Fresh unprocessed fruits and vegetables;
2) Products of a cottage food production operation;
3) Maple syrup, sorghum, or honey that is produced by a maple syrup or sorghum producer or beekeeper described in division (A) of section 3715.021 of the Revised Code;
4) Commercially prepackaged food that is not potentially hazardous, on the condition that the food is contained in displays, the total space of which equals less than one hundred cubic feed on the premises where the person conducts business at the farm market;
5) Cider and other juices manufactured on site at the farm market;
6) Raw eggs, raw poultry, and raw non-amenable meat on the condition that those products were produced by the farm market operator, and further conditioned that, with respect to the eggs offered, the farm market operator annually maintains five hundred or fewer birds, and with respect to the dressed poultry offered, the farm market operator annually raises and slaughters one thousand or fewer chickens, or two hundred fifty or fewer turkeys.

A farm market that offer for sale only those items listed above is exempt from needing a license from the local health department.

Registration of a farm market is free and may be done from the ODA website. 

Registered farmers’ market means a location where producers congregate to offer one or more of the following food items for sale:

1) Fresh unprocessed fruits and vegetables;
2) Products of a cottage food production operation;
3) Maple syrup, sorghum, or honey that is produced by a maple syrup or sorghum producer or beekeeper described in division (A) of section 3715.021 of the Revised Code;
4) Commercially prepackaged food that is not potentially hazardous, on the condition that the food is contained in displays, the total space of which equals less than one hundred cubic feet on the premises where the person conducts business at the farmers’ market.

Farmers’ market participants who only sell items listed above are exempt from licensing by the local health department.  Not all participants at a registered farmers’ market need only to sell items on the list above.  Participants may sell other food items as long as they are licensed by the local health department.

To determine if a farmers’ market is registered you can contact ODA, FS at 614-728-6250.
Registration of a farmers’ market is free and it can be done on ODA's website.

Registration of a farmers’ market is free and it can be done here.  You may also want to list your farmers’ market with the Ohio Department of Agriculture's Marketing Division, Ohio Proud. Ohio Proud is a marketing tool available to producers in Ohio. For more information visit: OhioProud.org.

If the farmers’ market is registered you may sell your cottage food items at the market without a license from the local health department as long as your cottage food items are correctly labeled. An example of correct labeling for a cottage food can be found on the Cottage Food Resource Page.  

Additional farmers’ market information can be found here.

If the farmers’ market is not registered you will need a license from your local health department to sell your cottage food items at the market.  

To determine if a farmers’ market is registered with the Ohio department of agriculture you can contact the division at 614-728-6250.

Cottage food items are to be pre-packaged and properly labeled when brought to the market.  If product is open for customers to select then a temporary or mobile food license is required from the local health department.

First your meat must come from a facility that is inspected by the USDA or ODA meat inspection and the meat must bear the appropriate mark of inspection.

If you are storing your meat you will need a storage location (warehouse) inspected by ODA, FS.  A home cannot be a warehouse, but you may be able to use your garage or an outbuilding to hold your freezers.  The warehouse must be tight as to exclude insects and rodents, and the freezers are to be situated as to protect the product from contamination. (No storing of fuel or oil other contaminates above or near the freezers). 

Once you have been inspected by ODA, FS, you must contact your local health department to obtain a license to sell your meat at the farmers’ market.  

Your operation must be inspected by ODA's Division of Food Safety. You must also contact your local health department to obtain a license to sell your eggs.  

If you operate a registered farm market you may sell your eggs at the farm market without an inspection.  If your farm market is not registered, your egg operation will need to be inspected by ODA, FS and you would be subject to licensure by your local health department. 

You can register your farm market on line.

You can find more information on farm markets on the Resources page.

If you have a registered farm market you may not sell cheese or milk without being licensed by your local health department.  You can find more information on farm markets and what they are allowed to sell on the Resources page.

Options for making and selling cider/juice in Ohio: 

1) Raw cider/juice: Can only be sold as raw cider/juice at the site of production.  Your facility must either be a licensed food establishment or a registered farm market.  As a licensed food establishment the local health department can answer questions on cider/juice production.  Contact information can be found at: http://odhlogin.sso.odh.ohio.gov/LHDdirectory/NetMgr/ODHList.aspx

A registered farm market can product raw cider/juice and sell it at the farm market.  This facility will be inspected by ODA, FS and must comply with Good Manufacturing Practices which can be found at: http://codes.ohio.gov/oac/901%3A3 .  Raw cider/juice cannot be moved to another location for sale (such as a farmers’ market), it must be sold at the site of production and it must contain the following warning statement:

2) Pasteurized cider/juice:  Can be sold away from the site of production.   Cider/juice must undergo a 5-log reduction to be sold away from the site of production.  A 5-log reduction can be achieved by pasteurization, the use of UV light or any other method which has been scientifically proven to achieve a 5-log reduction.  All facilities that wholesale cider/juice must be inspected by ODA, FS and must comply with both Good Manufacturing Practices and the Juice HACCP regulations.  Juice HACCP regulations can be found at: http://codes.ohio.gov/oac/901%3A3-23 . 

3) Cider/juice sold at a farmers’ market must be produced as described in number 2 above.  To sell raw cider/juice at a farmers’ market you must produce the cider/juice at the farmers’ market.  The warning statement must be on the product and you must be licensed by your local health department.

Bottling water is regulated by ODA, FS.  A firm bottling water must comply with both Good Manufacturing Practices and the Bottled Water regulations.  Good Manufacturing Practices can be found at: http://codes.ohio.gov/oac/901%3A3-1 and the Bottled Water regulations can be found at: http://codes.ohio.gov/oac/901%3A3-62 . 

If your water source is a well or a spring (non-municipal) it must be evaluated by a geologist or hydrologist to determine that the location does not expose the water to contamination by chemical, biological and radiological pollutants injurious to human health.  You must also have the source water analyzed by an EPA approved laboratory to verify that the water meets the chemical, biological and radiological quality requirements for bottled water.  A list of these tests can be found at: ---------

Once the source water location has been approved and the initial source water has been analyzed and found to be in compliance your facility can be inspected.  Upon satisfactory completion of an initial inspection you will be given an application for a bottling license.  The license cost $200/year and it is renewed every March. 

There are additional testing requirements:

1) Source water not from a municipal water supply must be sampled and analyze for microbiological contaminants at least weekly.
2) Source water not from a municipal water supply must be sampled and analyzed at least once a year for chemical contaminants and once every four years for radiological contaminants.
3) Finished product (in the bottle) must be sampled and analyze for microbiological contaminants at least weekly, for each type of water produced during that week.
4) Finished product (in the bottle) must be sampled and analyzed at least once a year for chemical, physical and radiological contaminants, for each type of water produced.

All testing shall be done by an EPA approved lab.  A list of approved labs can be found on Ohio EPA's website, look under “Currently Certified Labs”.  A list of required tests can be found at: ------------

Please note for purposes of this answer meat means: beef, pork, poultry, lamb, goat, equine and ratites.

The meat must be processed at a facility that is inspected by either the USDA or the Ohio Department of Agriculture's Division of Meat Inspection with the mark of inspection.

If your want to store your frozen meat at your residence, you will need to have the storage facility inspected by ODA, FS.  You are now operating a warehouse. 

If you want to sell your frozen meat from your home you should contact your local health department.  

If you want to solicit frozen meat (knocking door-to-door) you will need to have a mobile retail food establishment license which would be issued by your local health department.  

If you want to deliver pre-ordered frozen meat you do not need a license from your local health department, so long as the meat is delivered directly to the individual from the meat processing facility, without intermediate storage.

If you want to sell your frozen meat at your registered farm market, you no longer qualify as an exempt farm market.  You should contact the local health department for licensing information.  

If you want to sell your frozen meat at a farm product auction you should contact your local health department for licensing information.  

A “Cottage Food Production Operation” is defined in Chapter 3715 of the Ohio Revised Code to mean a person who, in the person’s home, produces food items that are not potentially hazardous foods, including bakery products, jams, jellies, candy, fruit butter, and similar products specified in the rule. These foods must be labeled properly or they will be considered misbranded or adulterated.

"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 commercial usage, and that the stove or oven be operated in an ordinary kitchen within the residence.

Bakery products (such as cookies, breads, brownies, cakes, pies, etc.); candy (including no-bake cookies, chocolate covered pretzels or similar chocolate covered non-perishable items); jams; jellies and fruit butter as defined in Chapter 3715 of the Ohio Revised Code.

The new cottage food rule has expanded allowable products to include: granola, granola bars, granola bars dipped in candy; popcorn, flavored popcorn, kettle corn, popcorn balls, caramel corn; unfilled baked donuts; waffle cones; pizzelles; dry cereal and nut snack mixes with seasonings; roasted coffee, whole beans or ground; dry baking mixes in a jar, including cookie mix in a jar; dry herbs and herb blends; dry seasoning blends; and dry tea blends.

A “Cottage Food Production Operation” is not permitted to process acidified foods, low-acid canned foods, potentially hazardous foods or non-potentially hazardous foods not listed above. Low acid food means any food with a finished equilibrium pH greater than 4.6 and a water activity greater than 0.85.

Acidified food means a low acid food to which acids or acid foods are added (Ex. Beans, cucumbers, cabbage, puddings, etc.). Potentially hazardous food means it requires temperature control because it is in a form capable of supporting the rapid and progressive growth of infectious or toxigenic microorganisms (Ex. Raw or cooked animal products, cooked vegetables, garlic in oil, cheese cakes, pumpkin pies, custard pies, cream pies, etc.).

A “Cottage Food Production Operation” is required to label all of their food products and include the following information on the label of each unit of food product offered or distributed for sale:

1. The name and address of the business of the “Cottage Food Production Operation”;
2. The name of the food product;
3. The ingredients of the food product, in descending order of predominance by weight;
4. The net weight or net volume of the food product;
5. The following statement in ten-point type: “This Product is Home Produced.”

Note: If a nutritional claim is made (i.e. low fat, salt free, etc.) federal labeling requirements must be met. Specific food labeling information is available here.

Allergen labeling must be followed as specified in the federal labeling requirements.

The statement means that the food product was produced in a private home that is not subject to inspection by a food regulatory authority.

Cottage Food Products may only be sold in Ohio. Cottage Food Products that are properly identified and labeled may be sold directly to the consumer from the site where the products are produced; sold through grocery stores, farm markets, farmers markets; and sold and/or used in preparing food in a restaurant.

No. A “Cottage Food Production Operation” is exempt from inspection and licensing by the Ohio Department of Agriculture. However, all food products, including those produced and packaged by “Cottage Food Production Operations”, are subject to food sampling conducted by the Ohio Department of Agriculture to determine if a food product is misbranded or adulterated.