Selling Food on Etsy

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Original Post

roboresa says

I plan on opening a new shop selling different food items. I plan on at first selling my own oatmeal mixes and eventually moving onto other things.
Now I can search the forums for liability insurance and find the regular old "do I need liability insurance for the art fair?" as well as soap makers guild liability insurance, but I can't really find anything in particular about food.
I know a lot of people sell food items on etsy be it cookies, cupcakes, granola mixes, etc.
Do you have to have certain licensing? And as far as purchasing liability insurance, do you have to do anything in particular?

Any help would be very much appreciated.

Posted at 5:21pm Aug 25, 2009 EDT


Hello roboresa ~ I do not sell food items, but I think you need to check with the state you live in to see what the regulations are. Good luck and best wishes for your handmade Shop :) A handmade oatmeal mix sounds so good! Now I've got a craving . . .

Posted at 6:02pm Aug 25, 2009 EDT

I remember reading once that if you're selling food, you need to be liscensed to do so in your home state.

It's never occured to me to get liability insurance to sell online - there's not much risk of someone hurting themselves while browsing my 'store' ; )

Posted at 6:03pm Aug 25, 2009 EDT

The liability insurance is not for browsing. It for anything that happens to anyone while using your product. This is a sue-happy country.

Posted at 6:06pm Aug 25, 2009 EDT

Usually you need to operate in a kitchen that has been approved by your health inspector.

Posted at 6:15pm Aug 25, 2009 EDT

I would never buy food that was not from a licensed kitchen; call your state for info.

Posted at 7:38pm Aug 25, 2009 EDT

Basically Etsy tells you "be licensed according to your local rules" and that's it. They don't send inspectors to check your licensing.

I think anyone who is selling ANYTHING edible would be insane not to purchase insurance to cover themselves. People can sue you for any reason---you could be making the best, safest brownies or whatever in the world, but if someone *claims* they got sick from them and sticks you with the bill, you'll be stuck either paying it or fighting it. Much better to let your insurance company fight that battle.

People are crazy. I know a vendor who used to sell homemade granola mixes and she was sued by a woman who claimed she broke a tooth on the granola. She had to pay for a huge dental bill. Another customer threatened to sue her because her pet swallowed the plastic wrapper the granola came in. She managed to avoid paying that one but it was horrible.

Posted at 8:30pm Aug 25, 2009 EDT

roboresa says

Thanks everyone. I fully plan on speaking with my agent about liability insurance in about a week or so, but my main concern was any licensing that may be required. I didn't know if I needed something from the state or federal, but it looks like quite a lot of people mention state. I'll check into that.

I have yet to come up with a new name and new logo and I still have a couple recipes that need a tweak or two to the recipe before I'm ready to roll. So it will be a bit anyway.


Posted at 2:33pm Aug 26, 2009 EDT

I don't know what you've been able to find out so far in your state, but where I live, the main requirement is that food is prepared in a licensed kitchen. I believe you can have a licensed kitchen in you home, but it has to be a separate (second)one from which food is prepared for your household. Since this would be very cost prohibitive, the best thing to do is work out of a rented kitchen that is already licensed and inspected. There are commercial places that do this, but it is quite expensive, running 25-45 per hour to use the space. Some of these places have monthly programs, like 500 or 600 per month for 30 hours usage. Still pretty pricey. However, if you can find someone who will work with you, places like daycares and churches have licensed kitchens, and depending on who you find, could be free, or at least considerably cheaper than the commercial places.

I hope that helps a little!

Posted at 1:29pm Sep 4, 2009 EDT

You have to go to your city and ask them what license you would need to sell from your home or from a commercial kitchen.

Posted at 1:30pm Sep 4, 2009 EDT