Do I need a license to sell homemade food in Newfoundland?

Updated: May 14, 2024

Published: May 14, 2024

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Selling food from your home is a great idea for you to start their own business easily in a quick and low cost way. Newfoundland lets you sell food from home, but there are safety rules and regulations that you need to pay attention to. In this article, we’ll take a look at the details behind opening a home-based food business in the Province of Newfoundland.

What counts as a home-based food business in Newfoundland? 

Home-based food businesses are food operations that are operated from where you live, also known as a “cottage food” business. This means you can cook your food in the kitchen you normally use at home, and sell it to the public, usually through an online method like social media or an e-commerce tool like FormPay

The Government of Newfoundland offers lots of information on what is and isn’t recommended for home-based food businesses. Specifically, you should review the Standard Health Guidelines for Home Based Food Preparation Industry and the Home Based Food Preparation Industry brochure contains all the details you need to be aware of. 

If you need more information, you can visit the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador’s webpage on Fixed and Mobile Food Premises

The government has also prepared a useful online course that covers all the things you need to know to get your home-based business started.

What can you sell at a home-based food business in Newfoundland? 

Since Newfoundland is relatively relaxed on laws around home-based food businesses, instead of listing what you’re allowed to sell, they’ve listed what you’re NOT allowed to sell from home. 

Their health guidelines states that you’re NOT allowed to sell the following foods from your home in Newfoundland:

  • raw meat and meat products from licensed abattoirs;
  • raw fish and shellfish from licensed processors;
  • poultry & poultry products from licensed abattoirs;
  • fruit and vegetable juices processed onsite;
  • cut fruits and vegetables;
  • kimchi;
  • kombucha tea;
  • fermented food products;
  • fruits and vegetables to be marketed as washed for ready-to-eat purposes;
  • potentially hazardous dessert products (i.e., cream pastries, meringue topped pies;
  • cheesecakes);
  • raw milk (unpasteurized is illegal for sale in Canada);
  • neutral pH canned / bottled food such as salsa or vegetables (a pH of equal to, or greater than,
  • 4.6) where heat is used to sterilize the contents of the container and the only barrier to bacterial
  • growth is the seal on the container itself;
  • wild mushrooms (unless verified by a wild mushroom expert in accordance with applicable
  • guidelines);
  • home bottled/canned meat, fish, smoked fish, shellfish and seafood products which are not
  • produced in a licensed facility by a licensed fish processor;
  • meat or poultry originating from unlicensed abattoirs as defined in the Meat Inspection and
  • Wildlife Act; potentially hazardous food which has been stored at temperatures between 4°C
  • and 60°C or prepared under unsanitary conditions; or,
  • other such foods deemed to be unacceptable by Environmental Public Health (EPH).

To be certain, you should contact the Environmental Public Health department at a local Government Service Centre office.

How to open a home-based food business in Newfoundland

Opening a home-based food business is almost as simple as cooking food in your home and selling it, but there’s a few more steps you should be aware of to make sure you’re doing it in a safe and compliant way. 

Luckily, the Province of Newfoundland has prepared a simple online course that outlines everything you need to know to start a home-based food business.

Here are the steps:

  1. Determine what foods you want to sell. Before you start anything, you need to figure out what exactly you want to sell. This will help you understand who you should be marketing to, but also assist in determining whether you’re eligible to be a home-based food business. Ensure that you’re not selling anything that’s listed in the ineligibile food list in the Standard Health Guidelines for Home Based Food Preparation Industry
  2. Register your business with Environmental Public Health. The Province of Newfoundland and Labrador requires you to register your home-based food business with the Environmental Public Health department. You can fill in the form included at the end of the Standard Health Guidelines for Home Based Food Preparation Industry and then submit it to the Government Service Centre office near you.
  3. Make sure your home is sanitary according to the health guidelines. The Standard Health Guidelines for Home Based Food Preparation Industry provide general information on how to make sure your home is sanitary, including water quality, pest control, and clean equipment. You might have to prepare for food safety inspections by the Environmental Public Health department after you register your home-based food business, so you should always ensure that your food preparation environment is sanitary. More detailed, updated information can be found in the Food Premises Regulations as well. To learn more about food safety 
  4. Set up an online store, or sell in-person at food fairs and farmers’ markets. Once you’re ready to sell your food, you can decide how you want to go about it. The easiest way to get started is to sell online using an e-commerce tool like FormPay that’s designed for home-based food businesses. On the other hand, selling in-person at markets and fairs might have other, separate requirements. We’ll cover both methods in a later section. 
  5. Promote your business. The last thing to do is to advertise and promote your business. Always use word of mouth to sell to family and friends first, then expand your customers through social media. This article has more tips on how to best promote your business. 

Do you need a license to sell homemade food in Newfoundland?

No, you don’t need a license to sell homemade food in Newfoundland. However, You need to register your home-based food operations with the Province of Newfoundland’s Environmental Health department. All you have to do is fill in the simple form at the end of the Standard Health Guidelines for Home Based Food Preparation Industry where you have to detail the type of foods you plan to sell, and then submit it to a local Government Service Centre office. The good news is, registering is a one-time thing and it doesn’t expire. 

How to sell homemade food at farmers’ markets and food fairs in Newfoundland

Selling your food in-person has additional requirements laid out in the Public Market Guidelines. According to the guidelines, depending on the category of food you sell, you may need additional licences. 

How to sell homemade food online in Newfoundland

Most people choose to sell their food online because it’s a faster way to start your business and more convenient to operate. You won’t have to leave your house and can sell your food directly from your kitchen. 

To sell online, you can use an e-commerce tool like FormPay to help make the buying process more straightforward for both you and your customers. With FormPay, you’ll get a beautiful order form that you can easily customize, an easy way for your customers to pay you, and a dashboard to organize your orders. Many Canadian independent food businesses, such as G Sweets and Uncle Tim’s Delicacies, have used FormPay to increase sales for themselves and save time for both themselves and their customers.  

How to sell homemade baked goods in Newfoundland

Homemade baked goods are generally considered “low risk”. If you use dairy and egg products in your baked goods, you ensure that it’s well baked and inhibits the growth of disease-causing bacteria. Furthery, you cannot sell “potentially hazardous dessert products (i.e., cream pastries, meringue topped pies; cheesecakes)”. So as long as your baked goods don’t fall under that category, or are otherwise deemed unacceptable by the EPH, you’re good to go.

G Sweets is an example of a food business that primarily sells baked goods and they used FormPay to sell online and streamline their business operations.

Summary

Newfoundland is luckily one of the easiest provinces to sell homemade food and baked goods from, with relatively relaxed regulations and a simple registration process. All you need to do is figure out what foods you want to sell and make sure your home meets the sanitation standards, then register your business. After that, you’re free to set up your business whether online with an e-commerce tool like FormPay or in-person at fairs, and start making your first sales. 

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