Now that your flock is laying, you may have found yourself enjoying eggs with increasing frequency. In fact, you may have gone through every recipe for quiche and custard you could find. You’ve also discovered a fun new pastime: repeatedly rearranging your refrigerator to allow you to store as many eggs as possible.
It’s time to accept an undeniable fact. Your girls are giving you more eggs than you expected and know how to handle.
The answer to this dilemma may seem obvious: give eggs away to your family, to your friends, to your mail carrier and UPS driver. You’ve already done this? Then it’s time to take the next step. You should provide eggs to the general public.
The thought of selling something you produce at home to perfect strangers can be terrifying, especially from a legal standpoint. This trio of law details will help you ensure your fledgling egg business stays legit.
Local Sales Laws
The first and most important question any poultry keeper must ask is, “Are egg sales allowed?” While chicken ownership has become increasingly accepted throughout the country, many locales still impose prohibitions. And egg sales is a common restriction.
Even if your town allows you to sell eggs, your home owner association may not. Be sure to check with both your HOA board and your local ordinance officer before setting out your eggs-for-sale sign. And check if these signs are allowed as well.
If you discover you live in a no-sales zone, don’t despair. You still have an option available to you: eggs by donation. Instead of setting a fixed price for a dozen eggs, clearly state that your eggs are free but donations are welcome to cover the cost of chicken feed, egg cartons and other costs of poultry ownership.
You may find that your supporters generously donate more than what you would have charged per dozen.
Cottage Food Laws
Selling eggs may seem like an easy enough task. But there’s much more involved than simply selecting the perfect carton.
Each state has what are called “cottage food laws,” which allow people to earn extra income by making/selling specific foods in their home. Cottage foods—and the home kitchens in which they are prepared and packed—are not subject to the strict inspections and licensing that commercial food producers experience. But they are still subject to regulations.
Some states may require eggs to be washed and stored at a certain temperature. Other states may require eggs to be sold unwashed and at room temperature.
Cottage food laws may cover collection methods, egg age, egg carton reuse, required labeling and how much you can earn yearly.
Find out what cottage food laws apply to you by searching the internet for “cottage food laws” and the name of your state. You caa also visit your state’s Department of Agriculture web site and search for shell (eating) eggs or cottage food laws.
If you’ve set your sights on selling your eggs to an eatery, market, bakery, or co-op, cottage food laws will no longer apply to you. Instead of selling your eggs directly to consumers, your egg sales will be to another party who, in turn, will resell them to consumers in some form or another.
If these are your plans, you will need to follow your state’s regulations regarding shell eggs. You can find these rules online by visiting your state’s Department of Agriculture web site.
Most state regulations govern:
- the cleaning, handling and storing of eggs
- the use of a dedicated facility where you clean, pack and store your eggs
- undergoing regular inspections by a state agent
- grading your eggs according to state or federal guidelines
Failure to adhere to these guidelines may result in very stiff fines. So if you choose to take this route be prepared to follow your state regulations to a tee.