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Under the PA cottage food law, there are certain types of low risk food products that may be produced and sold out of your home kitchen with no inspection or licensing requirements.
Generally,the types of production that can occur in 'limited food establishments' (whether an actual home-use kitchen or a kitchen designed in a residential fashion) are limited to foods that are not 'time and temperature controlled for safety' (TCS) foods (i.e., potentially hazardous foods, 'PHF'). TCS foods are foods that will support the growth of pathogenic microorganisms and require temperature controls (kept hot or cold). TCS foods can only be produced in a licensed / registered 'commercial' food establishment kitchen that meets the full regulatory code requirements, including separation from residential-use areas, and adequate plumbing fixtures. This does not specifically prohibit processing of TCS foods from a residential property, but the foods could only be produced in a second 'commercial' processing kitchen separate from the private home kitchen or any residential personal use areas, and that meets the full regulatory standards for a food establishment.
Potentially hazardous foods may be prepared in a home, if processed in a kitchen other than what is used for home-use and the facility has its own outside entrance. For safety, time and/or temperature controls are needed to limit pathogen growth or toxin formation in potentially hazardous foods. Potentially hazardous foods may include, but not limited to, any of the following products:
The exception to this rule is low acid canned food (ph above 4.6), which can not be processed in a private residence.
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.
Anyone wishing to prepare food from home or home style kitchen must fill out a completed "Application Packet - Limited Food Establishment" found under Forms. Please allow 3 - 4 weeks for processing.
Because only limited types of food may be prepared from the home or home - style kitchen and in some cases laboratory testing of the product must occur, it is necessary to closely evaluate these businesses. It may additionally be necessary for those facilities wishing to sell their products interstate to register with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). More detailed information on Limited Food Establishments is layed out in the Application Packet.
The Limited Food Processor Application must be submitted to the department as soon as possible. There is no money required for the Application/Plan Review process.
Cottage Food Products Establishments can sell anywhere they want (including interstate), and there is no limit on the amount they can sell.
Limited Food processors are regulated under The Food Safety Act (3 Pa.C.S.A. §§ 5721 - 5737). Regulations under this Act include all federal regulations related to food, and can be found in Title 21 of the Code of Federal Regulation (CFR's). CFR's can be accessed at www.ecfr.gov. In some cases, businesses may additionally be regulated under PA Code Title 7, Chapter 46, Food Code (if products are retailed direct to consumers from the business).
Beyond the requirements, common sense, good practices and reducing liability suggests you should do the following./p>
It’s best to use a pH meter, properly calibrated on the day
used. I use this
one, which is reliable and inexpensive.
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.
Keep a written record of every batch of product made for sale, including:
Although iInspections are not required, you should consider doing the following:
Abdellah El Hajjam
Chief, Division of Food Safety Policy & Programs