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

Updated: May 14, 2024

Published: May 14, 2024

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If you’re a first-time business owner looking for ideas, homemade food is a great place to start. Of course, it can be challenging to navigate that process yourself as you’re starting out. In this article, we’ll look at everything you need to start your own home-based food business in the state of Oregon.

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

In Oregon, a home-based food business is counted as any food business that sells food made from a domestic kitchen—basically, the kitchen that you use to cook at home. For your business to count as using a domestic kitchen, all the food you make would be from your home kitchen. 

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

With a domestic kitchen licence, you can sell most types of food if you’re making it from your home kitchen, but some types of food will need additional licences and considerations. 

  • Retail: If you sell prepackaged food, you’d need this licence, but you wouldn’t need it if you’re making food from scratch. 
  • Bakery: For all kinds of baked goods. We’ll discuss baked goods more in a later section. 
  • Food processing and warehousing: This involves the commercial production and storage of food, which you probably won’t need if you’re running a small home-based business. 
  • Meat: If your business is working with raw meat, you’ll need a licence for it. Seafood would fall under the “food processing and warehousing” section, however. Cutting and processing meat is prohibited in a domestic kitchen, so you’ll have to find a facility with a meat licence in order to do it. 
  • Eggs: If your business handles or distributes eggs, you will need a licence for it. 
  • Shellfish: Shellfish only count as clams, oysters, mussels, and whole scallops if you have this licence. 
  • Dairy: It’s also prohibited to do dairy processing, such as making your own ice cream, unless you have access to a facility with a dairy licence. 
  • Non-alcoholic beverage: Non-alcoholic drinks mainly mean carbonated drinks like soda water and mineral water. 
  • Pet food: Pet food that contains meat, whether cooked or raw, needs its own licence. 
  • Refrigerated locker: This is if you have rented lockers for frozen foods, which you will be unlikely to have in your home kitchen. 

How to open a home-based food business in Oregon

Between coming up with the idea for your business to actually selling food, you’ll likely follow this following series of steps to get your business up and running: 

  1. Figure out what home-based foods you’re selling. Make sure the food you’re selling is considered “low-risk”. Otherwise, you’ll have to apply for additional licensing as mentioned in the previous section.
  2. Label your food: If your food is packaged, you’ll have to label it, with the name of the food, the ingredients, the net weight, and your name and address.
  3. Make sure your home is sanitary according to the health guidelines. To prepare for an inspection, and to ensure the safety of yourself and your customers, it’s best to keep everything tidy. Equipment cleanliness and water quality can be maintained, and potential contaminants should be kept out of the kitchen. 
  4. Get ready for a food safety inspector from the Food Safety Program to visit. First you’ll need to get a licence, which will be given to you by the food safety inspector once they inspect your home. More details on the licence will be included in a section below. 
  5. Set up an online store, or sell in-person at food fairs and farmers’ markets. Once you have your licence, the last thing to do is start selling your food. You can either sell in-person at events at food fairs and farmers’ markets, or online with an ecommerce solution like FormPay that’s built for home-based food merchants to easily sell only. We’ll cover both methods in their own sections later. 
  6. Promote your business. Finally, you can advertise your business. First you can start small with word of mouth by telling your friends and family, then expand your audience with social media. This article has a few tips on how you can promote your business. 

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

Yes, you do need a licence to sell homemade food from Oregon. To get one, you’ll need to fill out a licence application, which will be given to you by the food safety inspector when they visit your home. You’ll need to prepare information about your property like a land use statement and floor plans, as well as information about the food you want to sell. 

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

The good news is, you don’t need any additional licences to sell foods at in-person events in Oregon. As long as you have a domestic kitchen licence, as well as any other licences for other types of food you want to sell, you’re free to sell your food at farmers’ markets and food fairs. 

How to sell homemade food online in Oregon

With a domestic kitchen licence, you’re also free to sell your food directly online, and most people choose to do so out of convenience. With a cottage food e-commerce tool like FormPay, it’s easy to set up an online store where people can easily order and pay for your food. A lot of independent food businesses like G Sweets and Uncle Tim’s Delicacies have used FormPay to increase their sales and make the process quick and easy for both themselves and their customers. 

How to sell homemade baked goods in Oregon

Besides a domestic food processing licence, you can also get a bakery licence if you want to sell baked goods. 

Baked goods include foods like:

  • Bread
  • Rolls
  • Cakes
  • Pies
  • Doughnuts
  • Cookies
  • Biscuits
  • Crackers
  • And other similar types of food. 

G Sweets, one of the home-based food businesses that uses FormPay as mentioned above, primarily sells baked goods. 

Summary

Luckily, Oregon is one of the easiest states to sell homemade food in, with various different kinds of licenses that can allow you to sell types of food that you normally wouldn’t be able to sell in a home-based food business. Once you’ve got everything planned out and ready, you can sell your food wherever you like with your licence, whether at in-person events or online through an ecommerce service like FormPay that’s specifically for home-based food merchants in Oregon. 

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