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University of Minnesota Extension

Extension is expanding its online education and resources to adapt to COVID-19 restrictions.

Keep yourself and your customers safe during COVID- 19

May 4, 2020
Jars of jam for sale.

Cottage food producers are identified in the Minnesota Critical Sector Worker Exemption and may continue to work during the stay-at-home order. Cottage food producers must take personal safety and social distancing measures when producing and selling their products.

Currently, there is no evidence to support that COVID-19 is spread through food and food packaging.

Follow these guidelines for everyone's safety

  • Do not make, sell or store cottage food in your home if anyone in the household is sick.
  • Follow the good food safety practices of proper hand hygiene:
    • Do not touch ready-to-eat food with bare hands. Always wear gloves.
    • Regularly clean and sanitize equipment and surfaces.
  • Check the Minnesota Department of Agriculture's Cottage Food Producer Guidance for more information.
  • Follow the Governor’s Executive Orders and the Minnesota Department of Health for personal safety measures.

Selling food

  • Cottage food producers can continue to make and sell cottage food products provided all guidelines of the law are met.
  • Maintain at least six feet between individuals when delivering products in-person, or when they are picked up by the customer.
  • Cottage food cannot be sent through the mail, shipped or delivered through any type of delivery service.
  • You must assemble and sell your products yourself. Cottage food cannot be purchased by food businesses, food facilities or combined or assembled with another producer’s food products such as at a farmers market.
  • Customers should pay for products with a credit/debit card or online whenever possible.

Cottage food pick-up and delivery best practices

  • Arrange pick up at your location or deliver directly to your customers, while keeping at least six feet between individuals.
  • Protect orders at all times, during storage, packaging and transportation, to prevent cross-contamination and contamination by dust, insects or other sources.
  • Keep orders in a secure location within your control while waiting for customer pickup.
  • Keep equipment and vehicles clean.

Pick-up and delivery ideas from Minnesota cottage food producers

Emily L. uses  an online platform to allow customers to order ahead of time.

  • She confirms customer orders via an instant message or email and assigns them a 5- to 10-minute pickup time slot between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. on the pickup day.
  • To protect everyone, Emily asks customers to wait in their vehicle if another person is present.
  • During good weather, Emily sets up a table with bags or boxes marked with the customers’ name and pickup time. A tent protects items if it’s raining.

For Sarah E., a designated location with a number system has worked well.

  • Customers receive a photo of their pickup number along with a scheduled delivery time.
  • Customers pull up to her vehicle and show their pickup number.
  • She places the order in the customer’s vehicle while wearing new gloves and practicing social distancing for each transaction.

Lisa B. delivers pre-orders to alternate pick up locations.

  • She puts boxed and labeled cookie orders in the back of her vehicle.
  • At a designated location she opens the back and customers take turns to get their orders one at a time.
  • She delivers orders in person while maintaining social distance guidelines of six feet.

    Lisa H. has a table set up for pickups in her enclosed breezeway.

    • Pickup times are staggered.
    • Every order is labeled with the customer's name.
    • She disinfects door knobs between customers.
    • A note is posted to wait your turn if someone else is there.
    • To keep products secure, orders are monitored while waiting for customer pick-up.

    Kathi B.F. models precautions to protect her customers.

    • She delivers to customer's homes and wears a facemask and puts on fresh gloves at each location.

    Kathy Brandt is an Extension educator in food science in Marshall, Minn.

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