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What Permits and Patents Do I Need to Sell My BBQ Sauce?

My dad and I want to start selling his homemade barbeque sauce. What sort of permits and patents would we need in order to sell the sauce legally?

Launching a homemade food business involves a wide range of legal issues. Not only do you face health and sanitary laws, but there are zoning requirements depending on where you live, truth-in-advertising laws (does homemade actually mean "made in your home"?) and liability issues.

Because of the potential liabilities arising out of a food business, you may seriously want to consider forming a business entity for selling this product. And, as with any potential high-risk product, you should speak to a business insurance broker about the right kind of product liability and other insurances you'll want to have in place.

Also, some states have a "Cottage Food Law," which permits individuals to manufacture, sell and store certain types of "cottage food" products in an unlicensed home kitchen. However, this is not a nationwide law, so you’d need to check your state and local laws and rules (including zoning regulations) to see whether you can manufacture the product at home, or whether a commercial kitchen facility will be required.

Finally, many state laws (as well as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration) require accurately labeling the product with all its ingredients and, in some cases, its nutrition information. Because many of these permits and requirements need to be worked out well in advance of the actual sale of your food product, you'd be well-advised to research this carefully and to consult with counselors in your local SBA or SBDC office. Don't forget to enlist the help of an attorney and an accountant who understand the food product business so that you have a solid foundation for a profitable business, and not just a wish list for a hobby.

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