2022 Cottage Foods Safety Training
Online certification and re-certification are now being offered. Check out the 2023 Food Safety Online Training Schedule to sign-up.
What is Cottage Food?
Have you ever wondered if you could turn your hobby for making jellies, jams or cakes into a business? While most food items sold in Colorado must be prepared in a commercial kitchen with a food manufactures license, a number of home chefs are selling their creations under the Colorado Cottage Foods Act. The Colorado Cottage Foods Act allows limited types of non-potentially hazardous food products to be sold directly to consumers in Colorado without licensing or inspection.
The Colorado Cottage Foods Act was enacted in March 2012. Under it, producers can sell pickled fruits and vegetables with a finished equilibrium pH of 4.6 or below, spices, teas, dehydrated produce, nuts, seeds, honey, jams, jellies, preserves, fruit butter, flour, and baked goods, including candies, fruit empanadas, tortillas and other similar products that do not require refrigeration for safety. In addition, producers can sell up to 250 dozen whole eggs per month. Other items that must be refrigerated — salsas, barbecue sauces, cheeses, cream pies and pastries stuffed with cream cheese or custard — are not considered cottage foods and must be prepared in commercial kitchens. So must products containing any meat, including jerky. To produce these non-eligible food products requires registration with the County Health Department as a food manufacturer and site inspection.
If you would like to create an eligible food item in your home or a commercial kitchen to share with your community, the state requires food safety training. Local food vendors (and those that just want to learn more about food safety) can meet the three-year food safety certificate training requirement through a course provided by Colorado State University Extension.
Q: Can a cottage food producer label their product as Gluten Free?
A: No they cannot say gluten-free. The reason being, the food products a cottage food producer made were not lab tested and found to be free of gluten. The claim of gluten-free requires third-party verification of the end product, not unlike the claim of certified organic.
Even if the cottage food producer used all gluten-free ingredients, there is still a chance of cross-contact in her kitchen or packaging, so there could be traces of gluten in her product. What they can say is “made with non-gluten ingredients”, if indeed all of the ingredients used were labeled from the manufacturer as gluten-free. In the ingredient list, they can include something like this, “Gluten-free baking mix (rice flour, potato starch, tapioca flour), eggs, almonds, butter (milk, salt), baking soda.” The marketing materials can tell the producer’s story of a family that keeps a gluten-free household and the measures she takes to reduce the risk of gluten cross-contact.
- CDPHE: Cottage Foods Act Starting a Business. Great resource that provides a brief overview of the Cottage Foods Act with additional links to great resources.
- CDPHE: What are cottage foods? FAQ for Cottage Foods.
- CDPHE: Site locations for pH testing drop off.
- CDPHE: Colorado Cottage Food Act Requirements
- CSU Extension: Cottage Food Budgeting
- CSU Extension: Cottage Foods for Farmers Market Managers and Code Enforcement
- CSU Extension: High Altitude Food Preparation Guide
- CSU Extension: Making Jellies
- CSU Extension: Drying Vegetables and Drying Fruits
- CSU Extension: Making Pickles
- CSU Extension: Canning Fruits
- CSU Extension: Gluten Free Baking
- CSU Extension: Home Produced Chicken Eggs
- CSU Extension and CDA: Small Flock Processing
- CSU Farm to Table: Guide to Washing Fruit and Vegetables
- CSU Farm to Table: Cottage Foods Baked Goods
- CSU Farm to Table: Cottage Foods Candies
- CSU Farm to Table: Cottage Foods Dehydrated Fruit and Vegetables
- CSU Farm to Table: Cottage Foods Eggs
- CSU Farm to Table: Cottage Foods Flour
- CSU Farm to Table: Cottage Foods Fruit Empanadas and Tortillas
- CSU Farm to Table: Cottage Foods Honey
- CSU Farm to Table: Cottage Foods Jams
- CSU Farm to Table: Cottage Foods Nuts & Seeds
- CSU Farm to Table: Cottage Foods Teas, Herbs, & Spices
- CSU Farm to Table: Going Beyond Cottage Foods
- Home Kitchen Food Safety Best Practices
- Major Pathogens That Cause Foodborne Illness
- University of Missouri Extension: Farmers Market Vendor Guide for Preparing and Offering Food Samples
- University of Texas: Frosting Recipes
- University of Wisconsin: Measuring pH of Acidified Foods
- Food Safety News: Should Farmers Market Vendors Carry Product Liability Insurance
Colorado Farm to Market: http://cofarmtomarket.com/value-added-products/cottage-foods/