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

Updated: May 14, 2024

Published: May 14, 2024

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Homemade food is a great place to start for people looking into their first home business, but there are a few more steps you need to take before you can get started in PEI. In this post, we’ll go over the regulatory requirements and steps for starting a home-based food business in the province of Prince Edward Island.

What is a home-based food business in Prince Edward Island? 

The provincial government of Prince Edward Island classifies home-based food businesses under their Food Premises Program as Class 2, which includes “low-risk home food production”. Class 2 is a food premise where the food is usually eaten outside of the premises, which is your home since your customers are unlikely going to eat the food you prepared at home in your home.

What can you sell at a home-based food business in Prince Edward Island? 

The types of food you can sell in a Class 2 food business would mainly be “low-risk” foods. According to PEI’s Public Health Act Food Premises Regulations, low-risk foods are those that aren’t likely to contain germs or toxins, and unlikely for germs to grow or toxins to develop in them. Typically, this means foods like baked goods and food that doesn’t require refrigeration. If you are unsure if your food qualifies as “low-risk” in PEI, it’s best to PEI’s Environmental Health department via phone at 902-368-4970 or toll-free at 1-800-958-6400, and by email at envhealth@ihis.org.

How to open a home-based food business in Prince Edward Island

Even though starting a home-based food business in PEI might seem as simple as just making your food and selling it, there are some steps that most people will follow:

  1. Determine what foods you want to sell. For home-based food, you can only sell “low-risk” foods in PEI. The Province defines “low-risk” foods as “food that is unlikely to contain pathogenic micro-organisms or toxins or will not support the growth of pathogenic micro-organisms or the production of toxins”.
  2. Complete a Food Safety Course.You’ll also be expected to have completed a Food Safety Course recognized by Environmental Health, which is available periodically in person in various locations in PEI. The courses are conducted in English, but you can request for participant booklets in various languages. You can see all the upcoming Food Safety Courses in PEI here.
  3. Register your business with the Food Premises Program under PEI Environmental Health. The Food Premises Program has information on the most updated registration forms and details on how it works. You can apply either with a paper form or online here
  4. Make sure your home is sanitary and meets safety requirements according to the health guidelines. It’s best to keep your home sanitary, both for the safety of you and your customers and to prepare for health inspections. You’ll also be expected to provide a sanitation plan, written description of the site of food preparation, a bacterial water sample report if you’re using private water supply, and proof that you’ve completed a food safety course when registering. The Province’s Environmental Health Officers may inspect the area of your home for food preparation 1 to 3 times a year.
  5. Set up an online store, or sell in-person at food fairs and farmers’ markets. Once your business is registered, you’re ready to start selling. You can either sell in-person at food fairs and farmers’ markets or set up an online store with a service that’s designed for independent home-based food businesses like FormPay
  6. Promote your business. The last step is to tell people about your business. You can start by telling people you know through word of mouth, then connect with more people via social media. For more tips on how to promote your business, you can visit this article.

Do you need a license to sell homemade food in Prince Edward Island?

Yes, if you are selling homemade food for commercial purposes in PEI, you do need a licence. The specific type of license you need is the Class 2 license for “low-risk” home-based food business, though there are different types of licences depending on what you’re selling and where. The licences are issued by the Chief Public Health Office, and they must be renewed by March 31st every year.

However, if you’re selling home-made foods at non-commercial events like community bake sales and craft fairs, you no longer need a license.

How to sell homemade food at farmers’ markets and food fairs in Prince Edward Island

You’ll still need a licence in most cases to sell food at markets and fairs, but some exceptions may apply for events like craft fairs and community events where you don’t need a license to sell homemade food.

How to sell homemade food online in Prince Edward Island

Most people find it more convenient to sell food directly to the public from their home, which is simple to do with an online store where people take orders. 

Many businesses in Canada use an e-commerce tool like FormPay to keep track of their orders and accept digital payments instantly. FormPay is designed for home-based food businesses that are starting out. You get a beautifully designed online storefront to take orders and a dashboard to manage them. For example, other independent Canadian food businesses like G Sweets and Uncle Tim’s Delicacies have used FormPay successfully to save a ton of admin time per week and boost sales.

How to sell homemade baked goods in Prince Edward Island

Most baked goods, like cookies and bread, count as low-risk food according to the Food Premises Program as detailed above, so it’s fine to sell them with a Class 2 licence. Selling baked goods is a good choice for your home-based food business—G Sweets, one of the businesses mentioned above that uses FormPay to sell baked goods. 

Summary

Fortunately, Prince Edward Island is one of the easiest provinces to sell homemade food in. The government has a lot of resources detailing what you need to do, so all you have to do is make a plan, get a Class 2 food license, and start selling either in-person or online with an e-commerce service like FormPay to get started. 

Resources

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