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

Texas Cottage Food Laws, Regulations and Facts

Date of the enactment of the Texas cottage food law: SB81 June 2011, Revised HB970

Which foods are subject to the Texas Cottage Food law?

Allowed foods are baked good, candy, coated and uncoated nuts, unroasted nut butters, fruit butters, a canned jam or jelly, a fruit pie, dehydrated fruit or vegetables, including dried beans, popcorn and popcorn snacks, cereal, including granola, dry mix, vinegar, pickles, mustard, roasted coffee or dry tea, or a dried herb or dried herb mix. Here is a more detailed list:

  • Breads, rolls, biscuits
  • Sweet breads, muffins
  • Cakes (birthday, wedding, anniversary, etc.
  • Pastries
  • Cookies
  • Candy
  • Coated and uncoated nuts
  • Unroasted nut butters
  • Fruit butters (the following homemade fruit butters are not allowed pumpkin, banana, and pear)
  • Canned jams or jellies
  • Fruit pies
  • Dehydrated fruit or vegetables, including dried beans
  • Popcorn and popcorn snacks
  • Cereal, including granola
  • Dry mixes
  • Vinegar
  • Pickled cucumbers
  • Mustard
  • Roasted coffee or dry tea
  • Dried herbs and dried herb mixtures

Prohibited foods:

The following foods are examples of food that can not be produced by a cottage food production operation.

  • Fresh or dried meat or meat products including jerky
  • Canned fruits, vegetables, vegetable butters, salsas etc.
  • Only pickled cucumbers are allowed under the Cottage Food Law. All other pickled vegetables are prohibited.
  • Kolaches with meat
  • Fish or shellfish products
  • Canned pickled products such as but not limited to corn relish and sauerkraut
  • Raw seed sprouts
  • Bakery goods which require any type of refrigeration such as cream, custard or meringue pies and cakes or pastries with cream cheese icings or fillings
  • Milk and dairy products including hard, soft and cottage cheeses and yogurt
  • Fresh fruits dipped or coated in chocolate or similar confections
  • Cut fresh fruits and/or vegetables
  • Juices made from fresh fruits or vegetables
  • Ice or ice products
  • Barbeque sauces and ketchups
  • Foccaccia-style breads with vegetables or cheeses
  • Dried pasta
  • Beverages including but not limited to Lemonade, juices, hot chocolate 

 

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.

Definitions:

  • A cottage food production operation is defined as an individual, operating out of the individual's home, who:
    • Produces a baked good, candy, coated and uncoated nuts, unroasted nut butters, fruit butters, a canned jam or jelly, a fruit pie, dehydrated fruit or vegetables, including dried beans, popcorn and popcorn snacks, cereal, including granola, dry mix, vinegar, pickles, mustard, roasted coffee or dry tea, or a dried herb or dried herb mix.
    • Has an annual gross income of $50,000 or less from the sale of the described foods.
    • Sells the foods produced directly to consumers at the individual's home, a farmers' market, a farm stand, or a municipal, county, or nonprofit fair, festival or event; and
    • Delivers products to the consumer at the point of sale or another location designated by the consumer
    • .
  • A baked good is a food item prepared by baking the item in an oven, which includes cookies, cakes, breads, Danishes, donuts, pastries, pies, and other items that are prepared by baking. A baked good does not include a potentially hazardous food (time/ temperature control for safety foods) (PHF/TCS).
  • A potentially hazardous food (PHF) is a food that requires time and temperature control for safety (TCS) to limit pathogen growth or toxin production. In other words, a food must be held under proper temperature controls, such as refrigeration to prevent the growth of bacteria that may cause human illness. A PHF/TCS is a food that: contains protein, moisture (water activity greater than 0.85), and is neutral to slightly acidic (pH between 4.6 -7.5).

Licensing

Cottage food production operations is are not a retail food establishment, therefore, a retail food establishment license is not required.

Labeling requirements

Foods sold by a cottage food production operation must be packaged and labeled. The food must be packaged in a manner that prevents product contamination, except for foods that are too large and or bulky for conventional packaging. The labeling information for foods that are not packaged must be provided to the consumer on an invoice or receipt. The label must include the following information:

  • The name and address of the cottage food production operation;
  • The common or usual name of the product, if a food is made with a major food allergen, such as eggs, nuts, soy, peanuts, milk or wheat that ingredient must be listed on the label; and
  • A statement: "This food is made in a home kitchen and is not inspected by the Department of State Health Services or a local health department."
  • The labels must be legible.

Where may Cottage Food Production Operations sell the food products?

A cottage food production operation (CFPO) may sell products at:

  • the individual's home;
  • a farmers' market;
  • a farm stand;
  • a municipal fair, festival or event;
  • a county fair, festival, or event; and
  • a nonprofit fair, festival, or event..

Prohibited locations: Food produced at a cottage food production operation cannot be sold through the Internet, by mail order or at wholesale.

Other requirements

  • Annual gross income of $50,000 or less from the sale of the described foods.
  • Sell the foods produced directly to consumers at
    • the individual's home,
    • a farmers' market,
    • a farm stand, or
    • a municipal, county, or nonprofit fair, festival or event;
  • Delivers products to the consumer at the point of sale or another location designated by the consumer.
  • An individual who operates a cottage food production operation must have successfully completed an accredited basic food safety education or training program for food handlers..Your food handler's card is good for two years, and must be kept current as long as you are selling cottage foods. There are many inexpensive courses that can be taken online.
  • Zoning laws may apply as the statute only exempts cottage food production from local health department regulation, not municipal zoning laws.
  • Samples:
    Samples may be given to private individuals, like your neighbors, or to private offices 
    Sampling is allowed at farmers markets under a new law passed in 2013.
    Sampling at other allowed sales locations, like county, municipal, or non-profit fairs, festivals, or events, is allowed as long as your samples are packaged and labeled with the required labelis.
    Sampling of any kind is not allowed at events or locations where sales are not allowed, like a commercial bridal fair.

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.
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.

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