Yes, you can sell food and other edible items on Etsy. However, it depends on the type of food, your location, and how you’ll be making it. This is because there are government regulations on who can make and sell food.
Note: This post focuses on US laws. If you are from another country, you should consult a local legal expert as laws regarding food and edibles vary considerably.
Things to know before you sell food on Etsy
Etsy doesn’t have any requirements to sell food on their website other than following local laws and regulations. However, there are things you should know before selling food on Etsy:
1. Food laws and regulations
A home-based food business is called a cottage food business and is governed by the “Cottage food law.”
These laws are set up specifically by each state and are also known as “Home-Food Processing Rules” or “Baker’s Bills.”
You’ll need to check your state’s cottage food laws to know which types of food are allowed to be made in your home kitchen. You can check forrager.com/laws, an unofficial source, to know if your state allows a particular food product to be shipped across states.
You should know that the cottage food law does not cover time or temperature-sensitive food items.
To know Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations, read their official guide on how to start a food business.
2. Licenses and permits
To sell food online, you might need a business license in the state you’re operating in. Most states have a simple form that requires general information about you and your business.
You might also need a food handler’s permit for each person packaging your shop’s food. For a food handler’s permit, you’ll generally need to pay a small fee and complete a short course.
First, you should check if you’re allowed to make food in your home kitchen. For instance, if you have a pet at home, chances are your state won’t allow you to sell food commercially.
Then there’s a zoning permit that allows you to operate a home business. Your condo association may also have its own rules about running a food business from your home kitchen.
Next, you may need a home kitchen inspection from your state’s Department of Health and insurance that covers liability.
You should also consider how you’ll store the ingredients and the final product. If it’s too much of a hassle, look into shared commercial kitchens that you can rent for a few hours a day.
4. Product labeling
There are two labeling acts you need to be aware of:
Most states have similar labeling requirements like having food ingredients, nutrition facts, product description, quantity, weight, country of origin, and business location.
Some states have additional requirements like a disclaimer that the state doesn’t inspect the food. You may also want to look into the FDA Food Labeling Guide to know federal label regulations.
Although Etsy doesn’t have requirements on how to sell food, you should add product ingredients in the description. Make sure you specify if your product contains dairy, nuts, gluten, and other common allergens.
Different shipping carriers have their own regulations around perishable items. Make sure you consult all the shipping carriers for specific restrictions regarding food shipment.
These resources will help you decide how and where you can ship: