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cottage food community

Colorado

The “Colorado Cottage Foods Act” began in 2012 and was amended in 2013. In 2015, two amendments passed (SB 15-085 & HB 15-1102) and went into effect on August 5th, 2015. One amendment increased the sales limit from $5,000 to $10,000 per product, and the other added more allowed foods, including pickles.

Although HB 15-1102 already went into effect, the health department is still creating rules to implement it. Until they do, homemade acidified foods cannot be sold, and they have been holding a series of public meetings to discuss the issue.

The law restricts producers to direct sales only, but no license or permit from the health department is required. However, producers must take a training course before they can start selling.

One thing that differentiates Colorado from other states is that rather than limiting overall sales per year, they limit the sales of each product. This allows producers to sell an unlimited amount of food, as long as they keep creating different products.

Selling

Allowed Foods

Prohibited Foods

Here’s the official list of allowed foods. Jalapenos jellies/preserves, pumpkin butter, and jams/jellies with low sugar are likely not allowed. Whole eggs may only be sold under certain conditions, including a 250 dozen per-month limit.

Once the health department creates rules for the new amendment, some types of acidified foods (like pickled vegetables) will be allowed.

Only "non-potentially hazardous" foods are allowed, but certain non-PHFs may not be allowed. Most foods that don't need to be refrigerated (foods without meat, cheese, etc.) are considered non-potentially hazardous. Learn more

Limitations

Limitations
Sales are limited to $10,000 per product
Although the producer can make no more than $10,000 of net revenue per year from a product, product variants are considered different products. For instance, strawberry jelly and grape jelly are two different products.This limit will increase to $10,000 per product on August 5th, 2015.

Business

Food handler course

Every cottage food producer must take a food handler training course, which can be taken online for $10 – $15 at statefoodsafety.com.

If you would prefer to take a course in-person, the CSU Extension’s Food Safety Works program offers classes around the state which usually cost between $5 and $30. You can contact your local health department to learn about the upcoming courses in your area.

Cottage food operations are not required to collect state sales tax, but they may be required to collect local sales taxes. To see if this could apply to you, check out this page and click on “View Local Sales Tax Rates”. Even if your county does require sales tax, you may still get an exemption because you’re selling food that won’t be consumed on your premises. But you need to check with your city and/or county about that.

Labeling

Sample Label

Chocolate Chip Cookies

"This product was produced in a home kitchen that is not subject to state licensure or inspection and that may also process common food allergens such as tree nuts, peanuts, eggs, soy, wheat, milk, fish, and crustacean shellfish. This product is not intended for resale."


Forrager Cookie Company

123 Chewy Way, Cookietown, CO 73531


Phone: (123) 456-7890


Ingredients: enriched flour (wheat flour, malted barley flour, niacin, iron, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), butter (cream, salt), semi-sweet chocolate (sugar, chocolate, cocoa butter, milkfat, soy lecithin, natural flavors), brown sugar, granulated sugar, eggs, vanilla extract (vanilla bean extract, alcohol, sugar), baking soda, salt (salt, calcium silicate)


Produced on 2/12/2016


In addition to the labeling requirements, a sign must be displayed at the point of sale with this statement: “This product was produced in a home kitchen that is not subject to state licensure or inspection. This product is not intended for resale.”

Alternatively, an email address can be substituted for a phone number on the label.

The address on the label should be the location where the product was made.

Workplace

Beyond their home kitchen, a producer can also make their products at other private, public, or commercial kitchens.

Resources

Contacts

Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment

Department
Division of Environmental Health and Sustainability
Email
comments.CPD@state.co.us
Telephone
303-692-3645
Fax
303-753-6809
Address
4300 Cherry Creek Drive South C-1
Denver, CO 80246
Law Dates
March 2012
SB 12-048
April 2013
SB 13-1158
August 2015
SB 15-085
August 2015
HB 15-1102
This page was last updated on

Comments

Hi, I’m wanting to start a muffin and tea business (roadside if possible) if I’m just using store bought tea bags and boiling hot water and making the muffins at home what other kind of licensures may I need? Also, how would I find out how to get the stand on corner or whatever of possible a state highway?

    It’s likely that you can sell at non-food establishments as long as you sell all items in-person, but you should double check with the health dept.

After reading through this entire comments section as well as the detailed page, my understanding about how to get my Cottage Food operation up and running is this:

Take the online food safety test and obtain certificate. See if I need to consider city only sales tax since state is non applicable. Sell only food that is nonperishable (french macarons with ganache filling in my case). Ensure all sales include a disclaimer that it was created under Cottage Food laws along with list of ingredients, contact info etc. Direct to person sales only. If I wish to sell at events like farmers markets I need to obtain that licence through the state.

Does that sound correct? I want to make sure I am doing everything I need in order to fully follow the law.

    I’m not confident that ganache filling would be allowed, so you should ask the health dept about that. I’m not sure what farmers market license you’re referring to, but it’s possible that events would have more requirements. You might also have other requirements you need to adhere to: http://forrager.com/faq/#starting

Hi David! I’m thinking about starting a frozen meat/chicken Bolivian empanadas (called Salteñas) business. Just ordering through Facebook I guess and making them at home. Would that go under this law or would I need something different? Thanks!

Hi there, Thanks for all the info that you have here on the website. I wanted to ask you, if I wanted to expand my home bakery business and start selling items like cheesecakes and fruit bouquets or things of that nature that need refrigeration, how would I go about getting a license to do that? Or would I just be applying for a business here in Colorado to be able to do that? Thanks so much!

Hi David! Thanks for your comments, I have learned a lot just by reading all question/answers. I would like to start up a cookie business – my cookies are fabulous; however I’m following recipes from cookbooks, is this allowed to (hopefully!) make a profit out of someone else’s recipe?

    Thanks, David; one more question: What happens if someone sues me because they thought my cookie made them sick? Is the sole proprietorship + insurance enough to ensure they don’t go after everything I own?

    Karen, I think it’s worth noting that I’ve never heard of that happening. I’ve heard of plenty of people who are afraid they could get sued, but I’ve never heard of that fear materializing. Could it happen? I suppose so, but if someone is that possessed to destroy you, I suppose they would find any loophole they could. The very nature of the cottage food law is to restrict you to making things that are virtually no risk, in terms of food safety. I’d say that a CFO’s main concern in early stages is in getting enough attention, rather than getting too much.

    I’m not going to say that the insurance will definitely protect you in all cases, and I will say that there are cases where an LLC would be a wise decision, but my personal choice would be to go with the sole proprietorship and then the insurance once my business concept had been proved.

Hello,
I am interested in starting a business canning fruit/berry pie filling and wanted to find out if this is allowed under the jams, jellies and preserves. If not, how do I go about adding it to the cottage food list? It has a two year shelf life and does not require refrigeration. Thank you!
Best,
Andrea

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