Is It Illegal to Sell Food on Facebook?

Selling Food on Facebook

Selling your very own creations has now been made a lot easier thanks to social media platforms like Facebook. One of the avenues where you can market your goods or services is via Facebook Marketplace. And if you’re thinking about selling food online, you might be wondering, is it illegal to sell food on Facebook?”

Selling food on Facebook is not illegal – as long as the seller abides by the Cottage Food Law. This means that there is a limited amount of food choices one can sell through the social media platform. Usually, these are foods that don’t go bad when not refrigerated.

Using Facebook to sell food has become popular means to earn money on the side these days. And if you’re thinking this would be your kind of project, you need to go through the proper channels to make sure you avoid hefty fines – or worse, jail time.

Don’t forget to check out our related posts on the legality of:

Can You Sell Food Items on Facebook?

If you’re too lazy to cook dinner and you just want to binge-watch on Netflix as you eat delicious food and snacks, there’s always the option to call a food delivery service. But if you find that Uber Eats doesn’t sell that one food item you’ve always been looking for, you might turn to Facebook Marketplace.

There are so many surprisingly good food items sold on Marketplace – and what’s more awesome is that it is allowed to sell food items on Facebook. In fact, Facebook Marketplace rules didn’t list food items as things that are prohibited.

Below are just some common examples of items or listings that are not allowed on Facebook Marketplace:

  • Not a real item – like lost and found things
  • Services
  • Animals for sale or for adoption
  • When items and their description don’t match
  • Healthcare items

And since food is not listed above, that’s safe to say that homemade food can be sold on Facebook. Despite this, in 2016, a single mom was jailed for selling homemade ceviche through Facebook Groups. So what went wrong?

Is It Illegal to Sell Homemade Food on Facebook?

Knowing whether or not selling homemade food on Facebook is illegal can be tricky. If you’re confused, you simply have to remember the Cottage Food Law. 

To be able to operate legally and sell homemade food products on Marketplace without problems, you need to obtain a Food Handler’s card. This card certifies that the seller has undergone a brief training on food safety and hygiene practices.

Another thing to note is that selling food made from unlicensed and uninspected kitchens will only be acceptable if the food items don’t require reheating or temperature control. That said, you may not be in trouble if you sell baked goods like bread, cookies, certain types of pies and cakes, homemade vegetable chips, and preserves like jams and jellies. 

In the case of the seller who sold a ceviche, this goes against the rules of cottage food. Ceviche is made from raw fish cured in acidic fruits like lime and lemon. The recipe calls for uncooked ingredients, which pose a high risk for food poisoning.

Basically, you can sell homemade food through Facebook just like you would sell food from home.

You may think it would be such a waste of time and resources for regulatory boards to go after small business owners who are only trying to make a little money from selling homemade goods online.

But you have to understand that the law is in place to protect consumers from health risks associated with foods that are prepared in unsanitary conditions.

Understanding the Need for Laws on Food Safety

Eating food prepared from an uninspected or unlicensed kitchen comes with health risks. Food-borne illness happens and when someone catches it from eating your homemade food, you’ll be in much bigger trouble.

This is where the Cottage Food Law comes in as it is put together to protect the health of consumers. The law exists to make sure serious problems like food-borne illnesses are avoided.

Besides ensuring the safety of consumers, following the Cottage Food Law will also give you credibility as it shows that you are in compliance with food safety. It is also a great way to show your customers that you have clean food that is safe to eat.

How to Report Someone Selling Food on Facebook

Meanwhile, once you have your understanding of Cottage Food Law and selling food on Facebook legally, you might run into problems that you’re not responsible for.

You may already have everything in place and you’re doing things the right way, but then suddenly, someone decided to report your listing. What should you do? Know that you don’t have to worry if you’re not going against Facebook Marketplace protocol or Community Standards.

If your conscience is clean and you abide by Facebook’s rules and the Cottage Food Law, then you’re perfectly fine. You can’t lose access to Marketplace if you didn’t do anything opposite of what’s stated in the rules. 

Meanwhile, if you spot a seller or product that breaks the rules, you can easily report it. Just head to Marketplace, find the listing, click the seller’s name and report. A set of on-screen instructions should pop-up that you need to follow.

When making reports, make sure that they are truthful. Otherwise, there will be consequences on anyone who makes fraudulent claims against a seller.

Conclusion: Is It Illegal to Sell Food on Facebook?

Facebook is an excellent platform where sellers can offer their products, thanks to its Marketplace community. The thing to remember is that it is not illegal to sell food on Facebook. Food is not listed as a prohibited item to sell on Facebook. However, this doesn’t mean that you can sell just about any gastronomic creations you can think of.

To legally sell on Facebook without local governments chasing you for operating without a food permit, it’s essential to follow the Cottage Food Law. Rules vary by state so you have to do your homework and know about the Cottage Food Law in your area before you start with your food selling business.