If your friends love your one-of-a-kind jams, pickled foods and other canned goods, it might be time to turn a hobby into a business. But because foodborne illnesses, contamination and improper labeling can cause serious illnesses, it's important to remain abreast of food-safety laws that might affect your business. Homemade goods aren't inspected by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which means you'll primarily be governed by state laws, which can vary from state to state. Be sure to check local laws before you go into business.

FDA Registration

You don't have to have your food inspected by the Food and Drug Administration, but federal law requires that you register with the FDA. For every acidified food you sell, you'll have to file Form FDA 2541a with the FDA within 60 days of registration. You may also have to register with your state's department of agriculture.

Type of Food

Some states limit the types of homemade food you can sell. In Wisconsin, you can sell fruits and vegetables with a pH of 4.6 or lower without a license. If you're selling processed foods with a pH higher than 4.6, however, you'll need to seek a food-vendor license with the state's department of agriculture. Colorado, by contrast, allows people to sell foods that don't require refrigeration without a license. In both states, the food must be sold directly to consumers rather than to retailers, and these provisions apply only if don't make more than $5,000 per year from canning.


Home canners aren't subject to state inspections, but you can still be sued for negligence if your products make someone sick. Wash your hands after you touch each ingredient, keep clean surfaces, and take other precautions. If you use ingredients that are common allergens, it's a wise idea to put a label indicating the ingredients on the can.


Home canners are required to print and attach a label to each of their products indicating that the food was made in a home kitchen and was therefore not subject to inspection. Many states also require that you keep a record of each batch of food you make, including the ingredients, the date you made it, the pH level of the food and your gross sales.