Environmental Health

Cottage Food Operators Permit: Frequently Asked Questions

  5. SALES


Q: What does Cottage Food Operator (CFO) mean?
A Cottage Food Operator is a person who holds a New Jersey Cottage Food Operator Permit.

Q: What is a Cottage Food Operator Permit?
A Cottage Food Operator Permit allows a person to sell non-TCS foods that they make in their private home kitchen without a health inspection.

Q: What do you mean by TCS foods?
Time/Temperature Control for Safety (TCS) foods must be refrigerated to protect people from getting sick after eating them. Some examples of TCS foods are that would NOT be approved:

  • Macaroni and cheese
  • Cut fresh fruit
  • Pumpkin pie
  • Olive oil with garlic

Q: What are non-TCS foods?
Non-TCS foods do not need to be refrigerated. Some examples of non-TCS foods are:

  • Bread
  • Cupcakes
  • Fudge
  • Fruit jam


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Q: What do I need to submit with my application?
To apply for a Cottage Food Operator permit:

  1. Submit your completed application form CFO-1 [PDF]
  2. Submit proof of water potability (a copy of your well water report or your recent water bill).
  3. Submit a copy of your Food Manager’s Certificate.
  4. Submit $100 payment for the application fee (online by check or credit card).

Q: The application form is missing form fields and I have been unable to complete the form.  Is a picture of the form acceptable?
No, a picture of the form is not acceptable. The form must be in PDF file format. We strongly recommend using Adobe Reader to complete your application form on a PC, Mac, or laptop. If you do not use Adobe Reader, your form answers may be lost when it is opened in our office. For more help, see our application submission help page.

Q: What do you mean by Proof of Water Potability?
Potable water is water that is safe for drinking or cooking.

Q: How do I prove water potability if my home is not serviced by a municipal source?
If your home uses well water, a private lab must take a sample of your well water. The lab will test the sample for total coliform. They will provide you with a report. Submit the report with your cottage food permit application. The report must be no more than 60 days old.    

Find certified labs that can test your well water at the Department of Environmental Protection Certified Laboratories lists.

Q: I live in a residential complex such as an apartment or condominium. How do I get a copy of a water bill?

  1. Ask management for a copy of the water bill. Send the copy with your application.
  2. If you cannot get a copy of the water bill, ask management for a letter. The letter must be addressed to NJ Department of Health Cottage Food Project. It must say the name of the water company. Send the letter with your application.

Q: Why do I need Food Manager’s certification and how do I get one?
You need Food Protection Manager Certification (NOT Food Handler’s) because you are making and selling food to the public. Food Manager training will help you understand how to make food safely. You must send your certificate with your application. NJ Department of Health (NJDOH) does not offer training and certification. For training and certification, see our list of new Jersey Accredited Food Protection Manager Organizations.


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Q: What are zoning laws?
Your town may have local zoning laws. Those laws may or may not allow you to have a cottage food business in your home.  

Q: How do I know if my town will allow me to have a cottage food business in my home?
Contact your local zoning office to see if you can have a cottage food business in your home. This office will not approve your application if your local zoning office will not allow you to have a cottage food business in your home. 


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Q: What are the Labeling requirements for the Cottage Food Operators?
All packaged cottage food products must be labeled with the following:

  • The common name of the cottage food product;
  • List of ingredients listed in descending order of predominance by weight;
  • Statement: “Contains” then list any major food allergens;
  • Cottage Food Operator’s Name, or Business name,
  • Cottage Food Operator’s Permit #; 
  • City address and “NJ”; and
  • The following statement: this food is prepared pursuant to N.J.A.C. 8:24-11 in a home kitchen that has not been inspected by the Department of Health.

Sample Label:

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
Ingredients: Flour, oats, brown sugar, raisins, walnuts, eggs, butter, vanilla extract, spices
Contains: Wheat, tree nuts, and eggs
XYZ Company    Bakersfield, NJ
This food is prepared pursuant to N.J.A.C. 8:24-11 in a home kitchen that has not been inspected by the Department of Health.


Q: Do I have to label each individual Cottage Food when selling at a farmer’s market? Or the label is only required if its prepackaged?
If you are selling prepackaged food, you must put the full product label on the package. If you are selling individual food items, like cupcakes, you must provide at least one tag with the full labeling information. You must also have a sign on display with your permit information and the statement: this food is prepared pursuant to N.J.A.C. 8:24-11 in a home kitchen that has not been inspected by the Department of Health.

Q: Do I have to list the allergens on the application?
Yes, you must state on the label if your food item has one of these major allergens: eggs, fish, milk, peanuts, sesame, shellfish, soy, tree nuts, wheat.  

Q: Do I have to include my home address on my product labeling?
Yes, you must include the physical address of your home kitchen on your product label.  


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Q: Can I sell Dog treats / pet food?
No, you cannot make or sell dog treats or pet food under the Cottage Food rules (NJ.A.C. 8:24-11.1). The cottage food operator’s permit applies only to human foods. The cottage food permit does not apply to pet foods.

Pet food questions can be sent to the NJ Department of Agriculture. The New Jersey Commercial Feed Law is available online. [PDF]

Q: Can I do online sales & mail order (shipping through 3rd party carriers)?
The Cottage Food Operator can market their goods online, accept order placements and payments but cannot engage in shipping products through common carriers like USPS, FedEx or DHL.

Q: Can I sell my products from a store front / back kitchen?
It’s prohibited to sell products to and from a retail establishment. According to the rule 8:24, it is not allowed to sell to a wholesaler or distributor who would then resell the product.

Q: Can I participate in a street fair or farmer’s market / stand?
Cottage Food Operators (CFO) are required to obtain a temporary food permit for the event as would any other food vendor.  Local policies enacted by farmers market boards and other local governing bodies are generally outside the scope of any Cottage Foods regulations. We recommend that you consult the local health department to determine the protocol for acquiring a temporary food permit for the event.

Q: Can I prepare food on-site at a temporary event?
The NJ Cottage Food Operator’s permit is not appropriate for preparing food onsite at a temporary food event. See the Cottage Food Operators webpage for more information regarding the rules and guidance.

Q: May I sell my Cottage Food products to a retail store or a wholesale food establishment?
No, you cannot sell your food products to a retail store or a wholesale food establishment under the Cottage Food Operator permit. The NJ Cottage Food Operator must comply with the rule 8:24-11.3 and must not deliver or relinquish any products to a retail or wholesale food establishment. To operate a wholesale food business, a commercial kitchen and a Wholesale Food-Cosmetic License are required.

Q: Can non-profit organizations produce and sell cottage food products?
Charitable bake sales are not impacted by the new Cottage Food Operator permit rules.  Charitable bake sales continue to be exempted from regulatory inspection if the baked goods do not require refrigeration and the required signage is posted.

Q: How do I pay my taxes?
In New Jersey, baked goods are not subject to sales tax.  The collection of sales taxes is not a condition for obtaining or maintaining the New Jersey Department of Health Cottage Food Operator (CFO) permit.  However, CFO permit holders are limited to $50,000 gross annual sales. 


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Q: What methods of payment are available?
Payments may be made via e-check or online payment. Online payment with a credit card or e-check is available at the Cottage Food Operators webpage.

Q: How do I submit my application?

If payment was made online, the completed application form CFO-1 and the supporting documents (Food Manager’s Certification and Proof of Water Potability) can be sent as PDF attachments via email to: cfo@doh.nj.gov

Q: May I drop off my application in person?

Walk-ins are not accepted and there is no receptacle for personally delivered applications. All applications must be filed electronically via email to cfo@doh.nj.gov or, if needed, mailed via USPS or courier to ensure proper processing.

Q: Can I get expedited service?
The office does not offer expedited service. Each application is carefully reviewed for compliance with the Cottage Food rule and to ensure public safety. The review process takes 5-8 weeks from receipt to conclusion. Failure to submit complete application or with right documents will significantly delay the review process.

Q: Is the application fee refundable?
The application fee pays for the processing and review of your application form and is non-refundable. If the application is denied, you will be given an opportunity to revise the form and submit the missing documents. If you are unable to meet the requirements or choose not to resubmit, your application fee will be forfeited.

Q: Can out of state residents apply for Cottage Food Operator’s permit?
The Cottage Food Operator's permit is only for residents of New Jersey.

Q: How long is my permit valid?
The Cottage Food Operator’s Permit is valid for 2 years.

Q: Is the permit transferrable from one address to another?
The CFO permit is not transferrable from one address to another.  Therefore, whenever a Cottage Food Operator changes their address, they would be required to apply for a new CFO permit.  The information on their product labels including the city address and their new CFO permit number would need to be changed.  The old label would no longer be valid.

Q: Will my home kitchen be inspected by the NJ State?
The home kitchens are not inspected by the Department of Health. However, if the Department receives notice that the Cottage Food Operator is preparing TCS food at a private residence, the Department may investigate. In the event of a foodborne illness outbreak, the Department or local health authority may act to prevent an immediate and serious threat to human life or health. 

Q: Who should I contact if I have additional questions?

You may contact the Cottage Food Operators project at (609) 913-5099 or email cfo@doh.nj.gov with any questions.


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Last Reviewed: 6/30/2023