This post was written by FLPC student Regina Paparo
The Harvard Law School and Policy Clinic (FLPC) announces a new issue brief, Cottage Foods and Home Kitchens: 2021 State Policy Trends. The brief details trends in state legislation expanding the opportunities for food production and sale from home, following a year that saw a record 51 unique pieces of legislation on cottage food operations and home kitchens introduced across the U.S.
The COVID-19 pandemic has created economic losses currently estimated at $16 trillion—as more people have been confined to their homes or forced to change careers, state legislators have recognized the importance of the economic opportunity to start and run flexible, small businesses from home. Those most impacted by the pandemic also stand to gain the most from new cottage food and home kitchen laws—cottage food producers and home cooks are primarily women and members of immigrant communities, who disproportionately bore the effects of COVID-19.
Legislators have also recognized the safety of foods produced at home. There have been few, if any, reports of foodborne illness related to the consumption of foods produced at home, and the Centers for Disease Control reported that foodborne illness dropped by 26% in 2020, as more people cooked at home.
Because of these coinciding trends, state policymaker interest in home kitchen legislation is at an all-time high. The issue brief details trends across the 51 unique pieces of legislation introduced in 31 states and the District of Columbia that aimed to expand opportunities for cottage food producers and home cooks in 2021. Trends include expanding the list of allowable foods produced at home, raising or lifting gross sales caps for home-produced goods, ensuring local governments allow home food production, and expanding sales and delivery venues for foods produced at home. The appendices to the issue brief compile the 51 unique pieces of legislation introduced in 2021 and the 19 laws that were enacted, as well as the current cottage food and home kitchen laws in each state, updating FLPC’s spring 2021 blog post, From Cottage Foods to Home Cooks: Recent Legislative Trends for Kitchen Micropreneurs. FLPC has previously published detailed reports cataloguing state cottage food laws, entitled “Cottage Food Laws in the United States,” in 2013 and in 2018.