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Connecticut Cottage Food Laws and Regulations: How to sell your homemade foods in Connecticut

Connecticut Cottage Food Laws, Regulations and Facts

Date of the enactment of the October 1, 2018. You can now apply for a Cottage Food License in Connecticut. There is an application process required BEFORE you can sell.

Which foods are subject to the Connecticut Cottage Food law?

Some examples of potentially acceptable cottage food are:

  • Loaf breads, rolls and biscuits
  • Non-potentially hazardous cakes including celebration cakes
  • (e.g. birthday cake, but not cheese cake)
  • Non-potentially hazardous pastries and cookies
  • Candies and confections
  • Fruit pies (not pumpkin)
  • Jams, jellies and preserves (must meet the Standard of
  • Identity in 21CFR150)
  • Dried fruits
  • Dry herbs, seasonings and mixtures
  • Non-potentially hazardous cereals, trail mixes and granola
  • Coated or uncoated nuts
  • Vinegar and flavored vinegars
  • Popcorn and popcorn balls
  • Cotton candy

PLEASE NOTE: This list is not inclusive. The state of Connecticut says (in an example of government ambiguity and uselessness): "Products on this list are not automatically approved, and the list above is subject to change."  Which effectively means, "Yeah, make those things, but you'd better ask us first, document everything and  be ready for us to change our mind on a whim"

If your food product does not meet the definition of a Cottage Food, you may still be able to make and sell it commercially, through a startup approach.  See this page for detailed information about selling foods that do not meet the Cottage Food definition.

Prohibited foods

Definitions:

  • Cottage Food is prepared food perceived to be low-risk for food-related injury or illness. As a low-risk product, Cottage Food can be prepared in a home environment without some of the controls used for a traditional ready-to-eat food such as those foods sold in a restaurant or grocery store
  • Potentially Hazardous Food: Potentially hazardous food is any food that requires time and temperature control for safety to limit pathogenic microorganism growth or toxin formation. This means any food that will spoil as a result of improper temperature control and, as a result, may be potentially harmful if consumed.
  • 21CFR: 21CFR (Code of Federal Regulations Title 21) references the FDA regulations that will affect your work.
  • Private Residential Dwelling: A private residential dwelling is your home. It is not a group or communal residential setting. A home in an apartment building is considered a private residential dwelling. Cottage food may only be produced in your home kitchen, and may only be packaged, stored or handled in the permitted portion of your home that includes your kitchen.

Licensing - submitting an application

The following documentation must be attached and submitted with a completed application.  Do not submit the application until you are able to provide these items: 

Labeling requirements

Cottage Food Production Operations must label all of their food products properly, which includes specified information on the label of each unit of food product offered or distributed for sale.

The basic information that must be on the label is as follows:

  • Name and address of the cottage food operation.
  • Name of the cottage food product (All capital letters or upper/lower case are both acceptable).
  • The ingredients in the cottage food product in descending order of predominance by weight.
  • If you use a prepared item in your recipe, you must list the sub ingredients as well. For example: "soy sauce" is not acceptable, but "soy sauce (wheat, soybeans, salt)" would be acceptable.
  • The net weight or net volume of the cottage food product (this must also include the metric equivalent; conversion charts are available online).
  • Allergen labeling as specified in federal labeling requirements.
  • The following statement must be printed in at least ten-point type in a clear and conspicuous manner: "Made in a Cottage Food Operation that is not Subject to Routine Government Food Safety."

Hand-printed labels are acceptable if they are clearly legible, written with durable, permanent ink, and printed large enough to equal the font size requirements listed above.

It is recommended that honey manufacturers/processors include this additional statement to their product label: "Honey is not recommended for infants less than twelve (12) months of age"; and

Depending on the size of your business, your label must comply with Federal label regulations and with the new nutritional labeling law. You can download a copy of the FDA Food Labeling Guide here it s an illustrated booklet that should answer all your questions.

Where may Cottage Food Production Operations sell the food products?

Cottage Food Products may not be sold across state lines.  In other words,  only be sold within the state. They may be sold directly to the consumer from the home where the products are produced.

See this page for more detailed information and FAQs

Other requirements

  • Cottage Food operators must prepare food in their home kitchen without pets, or small children present, and should always wear gloves in order to ensure the safest environment possible.
  • Individuals can only sell their products directly to consumers, (that allows sales from home and at events)
  • Cottage food operations can sell up to $25,000 of products per year. ( yearly gross sales limit of $25,000)

Recommendations:

Beyond the requirements, common sense, good practices and reducing liability suggests you should do the following.

Testing of pH

​It's best to use a pH meter, properly calibrated on the day used. I use this one, which is reliable and inexpensive. And this pH meter is really good, but isn't always available.
Short-range paper pH test strips, commonly known as litmus paper, may be used instead, if the product normally has a pH of 4.0 or lower and the paper's range includes a pH of 4.6.

Record-keeping is suggested

Keep a written record of every batch of product made for sale, including:

  • ​Recipe, including procedures and ingredients
  • Amount canned and sold
  • Canning date
  • Sale dates and locations
  • Gross sales receipts
  • Results of any pH test

Sanitation

Although iInspections are not required, you should consider doing the following:

  • ​Use clean equipment that has been effectively sanitized prior to use
  • Clean work surfaces and then sanitize with bleach water before and after use
  • Keep ingredients separate from other unprocessed foods
  • Keep household pets out of the work area
  • Keep walls and floors clean
  • Have adequate lighting
  • Keep window and door screens in good repair to keep insects out
  • Wash hands frequently while working
  • Consider annual testing of water if using a private well

Best Practices

  • Allergans:  Most state home baking acts require an "ingredient statement" and/or an "allergen listing" on the label of the bakery item for sale; but if your state does not, you should anyway. The eight major food allergens are
    • milk,
    • eggs,
    • fish,
    • crustacean shellfish,
    • tree nuts,
    • peanuts,
    • wheat and
    • soybean.
  • Cross-allergenicity: There are also ingredients available, even flours, that can cause a cross-allergenicity. The American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology explains cross-allergenicity as an allergic reaction when proteins in one substance are similar to the proteins found in another substance. For example, consumption of lupine flour may trigger an allergic reaction to peanuts, and cricket flour may trigger an allergic reaction to shellfish. Again, providing such information might be a beneficial marketing tool and help keep potential consumers safe.
  • The 2 Hour/4 Hour Rule -  Anyone wishing to make and sell refrigerated bakery items should remember to follow the "2 Hour/4 Hour Rule." This is a system that can be implemented when potentially hazardous foods are out of temperature control (temperatures greater than 45 degrees Fahrenheit) during preparation, serving or display for sale. The rule guidelines are as follows:
    • If a potentially hazardous food has been out of temperature control for 2 hours or less, then it may continue to be used or be placed back in the refrigerator.
    • If a potentially hazardous food has been out of temperature control for more than 2 hours but less than 4 hours, it needs to be used quickly or discarded.
    • If a potentially hazardous food has been out of temperature control for more than 4 hours, it must be discarded.

More resources:

Questions? Contact Information:

Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection

Food and Standards Division:
Email: [email protected].

Phone: (860) 713-6160

Website: www.portal.ct.gov/cottagefood