Selling your smoked goods

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Fire Starter
Original poster
Oct 7, 2010
Fayetteville TN
The question I have is how do you go about selling your products legally?  I do not want to have a restaurant I just want to be able to sell stuff at the local farmers market out of the back of my truck.   I have had a lot of people ask me to sell them some of the pepperoni sticks I make and the sausages.   I thought it might be fun to do on a small scale.   I also get a lot of requests for my canned goods but those are seasonal.

Can anyone point me in the right direction for information how to do this without costing me a fortune but at the same time protecting me from being sued into poverty?


The list of things you need to do can be daunting but not impossible. Having been through this here in Oregon a few years ago I can offer some advice. The first thing I would do is check with the local County Health Dept about licensing requirements. They all have them and you will need one. You will probably also need a license from the U.S. Dept of Agriculture (Feds) as you will be a 'food processor' when you start making anything from raw product. This will entail having an inspector in a lab coat come down to see you and inspect the premises where you will be making the items. They check for refrigeration, storage racks for equipment, what you're using to make the stuff with and cleaning stations (most important with them) etc. There is a booklet you can probably get from them beforehand. This normally requires multiple visits to conform. You might also need a City business license, depending on your burb and a State DBA ('doing business as' or ficticious business name). There is nothing to keep you from being sued but you can protect yourself and your family by having a huge 'product liability' insurance policy and, at the very least, be an LLC (limited liability corporation) so you don't lose your house, cars and clothes in case of a suit. I see folks selling canned goods, home baked pies, etc at FM's and it amazes me. They think by putting up a sign saying 'not made in a licensed kitchen' protects them?? Very risky. Hope this helps, it's a start but not the end of the process
That sounds like some great advice from Willie, but I have a question. Are the guys you see off the side of the road with a BBQ pit smoking or grilling chicken & ribs regulated in any way? I have had some of the best BBQ from these guys and I bet they don't have any license or permit. If they don't & get caught what happens to them?
That sounds like some great advice from Willie, but I have a question. Are the guys you see off the side of the road with a BBQ pit smoking or grilling chicken & ribs regulated in any way? I have had some of the best BBQ from these guys and I bet they don't have any license or permit. If they don't & get caught what happens to them?
When I lived in Cali there used to be guys doing that as well. Sometimes they were on a corner of a market or out front and were actually considered 'part' of the market, working under their license. Was questionable but legal at the time. It can be scary, but also delicious. So all kind of questions pop in my head when considering eating off one of these stands or trucks. Did the guy wash his hands? was the meat kept cold in transport?..did that dog just pee on his cooler? etc. Here we have many catering trucks putting out some great chow....but they are regulated by the Dept of Health just as a restaurant and in large cities like Portland, they try to keep them clumped together for ease of inspection. If in violation there are fines and possible closure. Didn't mean to scare the poster off his dream in any way but all it takes is one incident to ruin your day for good. Plus, he's talking about making sausage, snack stix and canned goods for sale....all iffy items at best....not just grilling or smoking something already manufactured. Just my humble opinion though....
Thanks alot for the great information.  It is kind of what I thought but I wasnt sure.  I just do this out of my kitchen in my house so I am sure it would take a few visits to make them happy.  I will find the local county health dept and see what they have to say.  It is just a hobby and if it is too much work I just wont do it.  I work enough at my regular job I dont need to complicate my life to much more.

Thanks for the great information

Good Luck

 Here you can not use your household kitchen to prepare anything to be sold .
Chef Willie gave you some great advice. I used to do some catering here in So Ca and it is tough. The State of CA will NOT allow you to use a home kitchen but some of the county inspectors are reasonable.  Lots of churches have kitchens that may qualify, you just need to check first. To me the insurance is a no brainer with the way society is today. You might sell it to one person who mishandles it and gives it to another person who gets sick and sues you.

Good luck and keep us posted   
I think you will find in most places that cooking out of your house won't pass inspections. They want to see a separate area dedicated to the processes that the food you'd be serving is made. You will need approved freezers, ovens, stoves, smokers, etc.. and not ones typically used for personal use. I have looked at this before, it can be done, but there is an expense involved for sure. A backyard smoker will not cut it, that is for sure. But when you think about it, that's a good thing because it prevents anyone from selling food that may be harmful to you or the public.

Obviously different state laws will apply, but in order to sell food to the public, you'll need a license, insurance, and a separate area other than your home. A non-profit organization might qualify like say the KofC for example, never looked into that.

Nothing is easy these days, but nothing ventured is nothing gained also. Good luck!
In Tennessee you can sell "non-potentially hazardous" products (breads, jams etc)out of your home without a license. In response to the above post, you must post a sign saying that you baked them in home.This is a regulation not a safeguard against lawsuits. I believe this is called the cottage food law. There's also "home based food laws which take things a step further requiring a license. Meat is a "potentially hazardous" product and the hoops are many. You cannot use a home kitchen at all. I don't know about the backyard smoker thing as I don't see much difference between a really good backyard smoker and a smoker friends use in competition. If there is one place least likely to contaminate food I would think it would be the smoker unless your cold smoking not to mention the fact that I've seen some pretty shall we say "well used" commercial smokers. I too am considering going down this path and the first places to start are the health department and any restaurant connections that you have willing to mentor you through the business side. is reader supported and as an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases.