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Home-Based Food Operation

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 Program Contact

Suzanne Hrusch MPH, REHS
Program Manager
216.201.2000 ext 1242



In most cases, food operations cannot be conducted from private residences.

There are several reasons why it is difficult to approve a home-based business:

  • The community where the home is located usually has strict zoning laws that prohibit conducting food operations in residential areas.
  • Receiving food deliveries and supplies would be extremely difficulty in a residential community.
  • Commercial grade quality tested equipment is required for use in a commercial food operation and most homes do not have these types of heavy duty equipment.

There are exceptions to the home-based business rules which include:


Cottage foods
These businesses have baked and prepared foods that do not require refrigeration to keep them fresh and free from contamination.

These facilities are not licensed or inspected so they must contain a cottage food label to warn customers that the foods are prepared in an unlicensed home.

Time and temperature Controlled for Safety (TCS) foods may not be prepared in these businesses.


Home Bakery
These businesses have baked foods that do require refrigeration to keep them fresh and free from contamination. These include TCS foods such as red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting, strudel and cheesecakes. These bakeries are registered and inspected by the Ohio Department of Agriculture.


Farm Market
Fresh unprocessed produce is sold by a business on the same property where the produce is grown (farm or garden).

Farmers Market
This is a location where multiple farmers and cottage food producers bring their non-TCS foods for sale to the community. There are restrictions on the types of foods that can be offered for sale and any farmer/producer who sells TCS foods must have a licensed retail food services operation or food service operation.


For more information about licensing requirements:
Cuyahoga County Board of Health Food Protection Unit


Additional Resources

Federal Food Safety – 

Ohio Department of Agriculture – Division of Food Safety

Ohio Department of Health Food Safety Program


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