home food business ontario

Here are the types of foods Ontario approves of you selling from home

With scores of talented, creative people finding themselves out of work amid the COVID-19 pandemic, many have turned their attentions to producing homemade breads, jams, cakes, salsas, pickled goods and the like.

For some, baking sourdough bread has been a fun way to learn something new and pass the time. Others may have stepped up their holiday fudge-making game to make professional-quality sweets packages for friends and family members.

And then there are the entrepreneurs who've built their food-based hobbies into full-blown businesses, selling brownies and preserves and even pizza from the comforts of their own kitchens.

Home-based businesses have been popping up all over Toronto (and beyond) since the pandemic hit last spring, to the point where Ontario's provincial government has issued a formal "Guide to Starting a Home-based Food Business."

"For many local entrepreneurs, they start with a love of food and a cherished family recipe, whether it's grandma's apple pie or that new take on homegrown pickles, jams and preserves, and try and turn their passion into a successful business," said Prabmeet Sarkaria, Associate Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction, in a release announcing the guide on Monday.

"Our government applauds them for their vision and effort and we are doing everything we can to help them seize new opportunities without compromising Ontario's high standards for food safety."

As such, the province just made some changes to its Food Premises Regulation, effective January 1, that relax some requirements for certain home-based food businesses.

While there are public health requirements that need to be followed by all food operators, wherever they produce goods, home-based food businesses that "prepare only low-risk foods" are newly exempt from "certain regulatory requirements, such as specified handwashing stations in food premises, compliance with commercial dishwashing requirements and food handling training certification."

So what are "low-risk" foods? According to the province, they are "generally considered non-hazardous and do not require time and temperature control." Examples given include:

  • Most breads and buns (without meat, cream filling, etc.)
  • Most baked goods (with no custard)
  • Chocolate, hard candies and brittles
  • Fudge and toffees
  • Pickles, jams and preserves
  • Granola, trail mix, nuts and seeds
  • Cakes (icing that doesn’t require refrigeration), brownies, muffins and cookies.
  • Coffee beans and tea leaves

Read: You can't start making sandwiches in your kitchen and open an UberEats account (at least not legally) to sell them all over town.

Those who wish to do something meatier than jam, however, can do so, as they all long as they adhere to requirements under the Health Protection and Promotion Act (HPPA) and the Food Premises Regulation.

Periodic inspections by local public health unit are to be expected for all home-based food businesses, low-risk or not... so, if you live in a studio condo, make your bed before turning on the oven. You never know when the food cops will come a-calling.

Lead photo by

Samuel Yongbo Kwon

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