Understanding the Cottage Foods Law
The following information was compiled by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment's Division of Environment, Health and Sustainability.
This year, the Colorado Legislature passed the Colorado Cottage Foods Act, a bill allowing individuals to produce, sell and store certain types of foods... making it easier for smaller producers to sell their goods.
Know the Definitions...
To know how you and your production fits in the Cottage Foods Act, you first need to understand the definitions:
- Home: Means a primary residence occupied by the producer producing the food allowed by the Colorado Cottage Foods Act.
- Non-potentially Hazardous: Does not include low-acid or acidified foods. Means any food or beverage that, when stored under normal conditions without refrigeration, will not support the rapid and progressive growth of microorganisms that cause food infections or food intoxications.
- Producer: Means a person who is a resident of Colorado and who prepares non-potentially hazardous foods in a home kitchen or similar venue for sale directly to consumers.
Cottage Foods Allowed
- Dehydrated produce
- Some baked goods
In order to qualify, gross sales for each product cannot exceed $5,000 annually and all products must be labeled and sold directly to the consumer (example: your local Farmer's Market!). This also means that you can't sell your products to local restaurants or stores. If you do these things, you do not need a permit or license for your cottage food operation.
Cottage Foods Not Allowed
- Fresh or dried meat or meat products including jerky
- Canned fruits, vegetables, flavored oils, salsas, etc
- Fish and shellfish products
- Canned pickled products (corn relish and pickles)
- Raw seed sprouts
- Baked goods such as cream, custard or meringue pies and cakes or pasteries with cream cheese icing or fillings
- Milk and diary products including hard or soft cheeses and yogurt
- Cut fresh fruits and vegetables or juices made from fresh fruits or vegetables
- Ice and ice products
- Barbecue sauces, ketchups or mustards
- Foccaccia-style breads with vegetables or cheeses
If you have any questions regarding the production of a particular food, call your local Public Health office or the Division of Environmental Health and Sustainability at 303-692-3645.
As you could guess, the law has specific labeling requirements. Cottage foods can only be sold if they have the following information printed in English:
- Identification of product
- Producer's name and address of where the cottage food was produced
- Producer's current phone number and email address
- Date the food was produced
- Complete list of ingredients
- ... And this statement: "This product was produced in a home kitchen that is not subject to state licensure or inspection and that may also contain common food allergens such as tree nuts, peanuts, eggs, soy, wheat, milk, fish and crustacean shellfish. This product is not intended for resale."
Unlike other cottage foods, eggs cannot be sold at a farmer's market without a retail food license. However, you can sell them directly from your own property without having to have a license. To learn more about the licensure requirements for selling eggs, visit the Colorado Department of Agriculture website.
Safe food handling courses that meet the requirements above include:
- Training by the Colorado State University Extension
- Certification by the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation
- Certification by the National Environmental Health Association
- Educational materials from the Colorado State University Extension