Skip to main content
Logo for Forrager
cottage food community

Colorado

The “Colorado Cottage Foods Act” began in 2012 and was recently amended in 2013. 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 is interesting in that it essentially allows producers to sell an unlimited amount of food, as long as they keep creating different products.  Colorado is also different in that they allow products to be made in other kitchens beyond the producer’s home kitchen.

Selling

Only direct sales to consumers are allowed.  The law is not specific enough to include or exclude internet sales.  It is up to the interpretation of producers to determine whether or not they are doing direct sales to consumers.

Allowed Foods

Jalapenos jellies/preserves, pumpkin butter, and jams/jellies with low sugar are not allowed. Whole eggs may only be sold under certain conditions, including a 250 dozen per-month limit.

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 $5,000 per product
Although the producer can make no more than $5,000 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.

Business

Food handler course

Every cottage food producer must take a food handler training course. This can be a course from CSU Extension’s Food Safety Works program, or something similar. Courses from the CSU Extension program occur regularly around the state and 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.

Cottage food operations must operate as a sole-proprietorship.

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 7/28/2014


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

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
This page was last updated on

Comments

Would different flavors of the same candy count as a variant? For example blueberry vs. strawberry cotton candy. Thank you!!

Hello David. You are a wealth of information and provide great stuff here. Thank you very much. Do you know about selling distilled or purified bottled water under the Colorado Cottage Food Act?

I have read the info on milk allowed in certain ways and not others. What about dried milk? Dried milk mixed with cocoa powders? Cooked with oils for chocolates?

Thank you!

    Dried milk by itself is fine. When you add water to it, you’d use the same guidelines that regular milk has, so I’m not sure if it really changes anything as a substitute. You can call the health dept for more specifics.

Im planning an online grocery store. I would mainly be selling other peoples products, but I would also like to produce some of my own food products under the cottage food act and sell them in my on-line store. from what I read it sounds like this is ok since my products wouldn’t be carried by other retailers. what do you think?

    All cottage food sales in CO need to be direct, face-to-face transactions. It is possible for items to be sold online as long as the producer is meeting with the buyer to hand off the goods. If you’ve considered that in your business plan, then you’re good!

    It sounds like you’re trying to start an online marketplace for cottage food products. A number of people have tried that (myself included), but I don’t know of any that have just focused on Colorado.

I am thinking about selling low carb and it gluten free baked goods from home. What do I need to do to get started. And can I even sell these things because most are made with almond flour not regular flour?

I see that breads are allowed but not dried meats. Would pepperoni rolls be allowed? Pepperoni is a highly preserved meat, and I’m not sure where it would fall with this law. Thanks!

I have a question regarding products for non-human consumption. I plan on selling dog biscuits that are gluten, soy and dairy free. Would I still have to use that generic message on my labels about allergins?

Erica

Hi, do I need to incorporate my cottage business? do we need to pay taxes? not sure how the legal part of your income can be done? thanks

    You cannot incorporate and instead must be a sole-proprietorship. Being self-employed, you need to pay yearly income taxes. The Business section above has info about sales taxes.

Hello!
Thank you so much for all of the information! I sell handmade cocoa mixes (3 different flavors) at one craft show per year. Would I be able to sell these dry mixes under the cottage law? I saw dried tea and dried coffee listed, so I wanted to be sure about the cocoa. Thank you so much for your help! :)

I am curious too. We raise lamb for meat and currently sell the cuts, as well as whole animals, wholesale to restaurants and markets, and will also be selling our product at the Broomfield Farmers’ Market beginning the week of June 9, 2014. It’s very hard to find information pertaining to selling meat at a farmers’ market. I find gobs of info on commissary sales, but nothing on meat sales. Can you help me to understand what type of licensing I am going to need? Many, many thanks! -MaryKay

I am looking to start a small business operating under the cottage law selling homemade sauerkraut. Would this be allowed? Only selling to consumers of course. Will I need to tax my product?

Lots of good information but not an answer to my question, yet. I grow wheat, harvest it and store it in a sealed bin. For the last five years I’ve taken the wheat to the Farmers Market and grind it there and sell it. The health Dept. says I need a Retail Food Establishment License, seems like they need the money. I fail to see how having a license is going to change the safety of converting grain into flour. I notice that mixes and nuts and seeds are all legal under the act, what about the main ingredient to mixes? Thanks, John

    As far as I know, what you’re doing should be governed by the ag dept, not the health dept. But if the health dept is the one who’s supposed to be regulating this (I’m not so sure it’s supposed to be regulated at all), then I think the cottage food laws should cover it, which your health dept may not even be very aware of. But ultimately, the health or ag dept has the final say.

I would like to sell my salsa and possibly my green chili (sauce). are these allowed and if so, would i be able to sell them in our conoco gas station?

Thanks in advance.
J

If my business is selling products at the cottage food level at farmers markets in Wyoming, can we also sell at markets in Colorado?

    CAN I SELL TO SOMEONE IN A DIFFERENT STATE?
    Found it…….

    As a general rule, interstate sales are not allowed. The Federal Food Code does not contain a cottage food law, so cottage food laws are only applicable in the state where they were created. This means that if you live close to a state border, you cannot go across the border to sell at a farmers market. It also means that you cannot set up an online shop and ship your products to customers in other states.

I notice that other states have recipes for cream cheese frosting that is stable and passes their Cottage food law. Does Colorado have such a recipe? Where would I get my recipe tested to see if it is safe?

    Even though a safe cream cheese frosting is possible, Colorado specifically disallows any frostings with cream cheese in them.

I am in baking and pastry school, and would like to get started in Cottage Foods. I have taken a food safety course and passed a national certification exam. Is there any agency that I need to send my certificate to? Thanks for your assistance.

Brandon

Thanks for all of your great information! I am selling at farmers’ markets and would like to know if all baked goods need to be pre-packaged in order to sell or is it possible to cover the food with a clear protective tray and either hand directly to consumer (e.g. muffin that consumer wants to eat right away) or place in a bag? Thanks!

A few questions:

1. Does garlic fall into the ‘seasonings’ category as an allowable food?

2. The materials say that “Restaurant” is not allowed as a sales venue. Is there any clarification? Are either of the following scenarios are allowable?
a. Selling garlic to restaurants to be used in their kitchens (not re-sold to customers separately)
b. Selling garlic on restaurant premises (setting up a stand inside or outside and selling garlic directly to customers)

3. Similar to #2, the materials say that mail orders are not allowable, but that Internet orders are allowable. What is the difference there? Also, would selling via a newsletter be allowable?

4. Would sales via CSA be allowed if all of the individual products produced are on the accepted list of items above? (CSA = Community Supported Agriculture, where customers pay an annual fee for a membership and they are then given a share of the produce harvested by the farm)

    1. Dry, powdered garlic should be allowed, and fresh, cut garlic would not. Uncut garlic is allowed as a produce item and doesn’t require these laws.
    2. Neither is allowed
    3. It’s not clear if internet sales are allowed, but it is clear that if they are, then you would have to hand over the product in-person after the online sale. You must personally meet the consumer when they get the product.
    4. No

I am looking to start selling soft pretzels to a local beer festival in Weld County. I already am a wholesale distributor and have the appropriate licenses for such, however I was informed that I may need a “farmers market license” to sell to events in colorado? Is this true? I would be cooking the pretzels at my home in Boulder county. I appreciate your help!

    I’ve never heard of a farmers market license. You may need the permits or licenses that are required to sell at a nearby farmers market. But it’s also very possible (and likely, based on your description) that the manager of this festival isn’t familiar with the cottage food law. You should call your health dept and see what is actually required, and then inform the manager of the festival.

    Thanks David! I am also curious if I need to have them labeled individually. The pretzels are frozen, then I am re-heating them in a toaster oven at the event. I hand them out in paper bags with my company name on it.
    I appreciate your assistance!

    Usually all handling of your products needs to happen in your home kitchen, but I don’t know how strict Colorado is about that. You need to label each item you sell… in this case, it sounds like you are selling pretzels individually, so they would each need a label. A box of a dozen pretzels would only need one label.

My friend and I make dipped pretzels. Do these fall under cottage law? We wanted to market them more but not sure what we need to do.

Hi, we are having a garage sale & my kids want to sell some cookies and rice krispie bars. What do we need to do? Do I need to take a class? Labels? Thanks

    If it’s a one-time garage sale and it’s your kids, I personally don’t think it’s worth it to go to the trouble to get approval and all that. Plus, your garage probably wouldn’t be approved by zoning anyway. They’d probably just tell you not to worry about it and go ahead, which is what I think you should do. You can take an online food handlers course if you want to be more aware of safe food handling best practices.

I have a quick question. My mother makes biscuits that are primarily for canine and horse consumption, however are very good and edible by humans as well. I see that biscuits are listed under this and wanted to see if it would cover the spectrum of dog and horse biscuits. Also, we do recommend refrigerating to keep the biscuits fresh, but there are no eggs or dairy in the products. Do you feel that this would fall under the Cottage Food Law? Any help would be appreciated. Thank you.

Hi there,

I am a baker by trade. I make everything from cookies, quick breads, scones to granola bars. I have been approached by several places, a cafe in the building I work at, as well as a friends Coffee Shop, to sell some of my baked goods out of their shops. I read in the information above that Retail shops are not allowed in Colorado. How would I get around this? Or would this be allowed since they approached me about it? Would I need to label it a specific way? Any specific licenses that I would need to obtain before hand?

I would like to start an organic baby food delivery service from my home in Fort Collins. Would something like this be allowed? The foods I would prepare would not contain allergens or need to be refrigerated; they would simply be pureed fruits and vegetables from a local CSA.

I will be selling cakes, cookies, rolls etc. by cottage foods laws. I was wondering if you knew if I need to pay occupational privilege tax (Denver). Also, I plan on selling these goods from my home and around on my bicycle. Being Cottage Foods, I am not technically a food vendor, so do I still need some sort of license and what kind?

    I have no idea about the occupational privilege tax — sounds like a question for the Department of Revenue.

    If you’re selling them on your bicycle then you’re considered a mobile food vendor, which has different requirements. I’m not sure if that would even be allowed as a CFO, but the health dept should know.

David:

Thank you for all of his great information. I can say that perhaps my dream can begin to take place now that I have discovered this web page and all of the info!

I noticed that Jams/Jellies with low sugar a not allowed. Why is that? What if I used a sugar substitute like Xylitol or Stevia?

    I’m not an expert on the science behind this, but it has something to do with the fact that sugar will prevent the growth of bacteria, thus significantly reducing (or eliminating) the chances of botulism. I’m not sure if sugar substitutes carry the same properties as regular sugar to prevent bacteria growth.

    Based on the info they’ve posted online, I highly doubt that the health dept allows nut butters, but you can call them to make sure.

According to the act, as I read it, milk products are considered a potentially hazardous ingredient; yet your list if foods includes fudge. Would a ganache truffle (made with cream and chocolate) covered in a tempered chocolate coating be acceptable under the law?

    Milk products are potentially hazardous under certain circumstances. When milk is added to cake batter and then baked, it is no longer potentially hazardous. A ganache truffle would probably be borderline, and whether or not it needs refrigeration would depend on factors that would probably need to be tested in a lab. You can ask your health dept and see if they will allow it without lab testing.

I’m looking to sell smoothies at local farmers markets. There would be a pre-packaged mix, fresh fruit, milk, and no prep would be done at home. How would that fall under CO law?

What legal document directs that in the state of Colorado that the business structure must be a sole-proprietorship? I have seen posts from the Colorado extension webinar that it can also be a limited partnership (husband and wife, sisters, etc.) and I have an e-mail from Boulder County indicating that even an LLC may be allowed. Where is the governing document about business structure for cottage foods business in Colorado?

I am curious about a baking business, I am just getting started and want to be able to sell my cakes and just curious about the laws. It seems like I would be covered but I just wanted to make sure. I probably would make little to no profit off of it because I am just getting started. I just need some help getting pointed in the right direction! Please HELP!!!

    I know a lady who owns a custard shop and she said I could see my cookies, cupcakes and muffins in her store. Is this allowed under the cottage law?If not what license would apply here?

    Also, what about selling to a grocery store?

    Pay a visit to your local health dept. I had a commercial bakery for three and a half years and they are a great
    source of information and help, that is in fact what they are paid to do as well as insure public safety.
    As with any agency there are those who are sometimes a bit surly, but if you look forward to their
    help, it works a WHOLE lot better.

I am trying to start a small tea room. Am I looking in the correct site for a cottage industry? I will be making limited sweets and savories to be consumed basically on premises.

    A cottage industry means that you are preparing the items in your home kitchen. This site only covers the laws for selling dry tea that you prepare at home. If you are trying to start a business outside your home, then you should contact the health dept for more info.

    If I am preparing cookies, cakes etc. Out of my home but selling them not only to consumers but to businesses, is selling my goods to businesses allowed?

    One note of clarification, one cannot sell wholesale under the cottage law. However one can sell at two separate
    farmer’s markets that are taking place at the same time, another person can sell for you direct to the public.

    It’s only okay if it’s dry, roasted coffee beans. You definitely cannot run a coffee shop from your home… you’d run into all sorts of legal problems, like zoning issues. Many people illegally sell things they make at home, and often the health dept doesn’t really care, but if you started a coffee shop at your home illegally, expect the health department to come after you. Just letting you know!

I see that confections with alcohol are listed under the allowed foods, but I am curious as to if there is a certain alcohol percentage the goods must stay under? Also, does “confection” solely designate a hard candy/baked good, or can it be fruit preserved in alcohol?

    I do not know for sure… I got the info about alcoholic confections here.

    I do know that your final product must be safe without refrigeration. My guess is that non-hard candies, like truffles, would be allowed, but you need to talk to the health dept.

    I can’t really confirm, but that sounds like it’s probably right. Usually cottage food operations don’t need to charge state sales tax, but sometimes they need to charge local sales taxes. Your best bet is to call around in the government departments to find someone who knows the answer. I know it’s hard to find this info online.

We are wanting to make vinegar, vanilla, and maybe a spice rub, are these considered cottage foods in Colorado? I don’t see the vinegar or vanilla listed one way or the other.

Thanks!
Liz

    I don’t think vinegar and vanilla are allowed. They are neither on the allowed or disallowed lists, but usually they would list these items if they were allowed. The spice rub should be okay.

I have a sweet hot mustard relish. Would this come under the cottage law? It does not need to be refridgerated until it is opened. Also, it comes in mild, med hot and ex hot, is that four different products under the $5,000 per product per year?

I’m a little confused. You state that you don’t need a license, but then I see that under this act you have to register as a Sole Proprietor. Can you clarify. I’ve already registered a Trade Name, do I still need to register as a Sole Proprietor? Is the Tax ID number registered under my Trade Name?

    Sorry for the confusion… that statement on this page refers to the fact that you don’t need a license from the health department. Technically, you don’t actually need to register to operate as a sole proprietor. If your county doesn’t require a business license, then you would just be considered a sole proprietor by default for tax purposes. When you say you have a trade name, that sounds like you have a DBA (doing business as). I know that you can do income taxes as a sole proprietor with a DBA… I’m not sure about the trade name but it sounds like the same thing for your area.

    Yearly, but remember that you can slightly tweak your products to create new ones, so it doesn’t need to be that limiting, depending on what you’re making. For example, you could turn chocolate chip cookies into white chocolate chip cookies, dark chocolate chip cookies, milk chocolate chip cookies, chocolate chocolate chip cookies, and walnut chocolate chip cookies for five different products. Also, thanks for pointing out that missing info — I’ve now added it.

    You shouldn’t have to collect state sales taxes, but you may need to pay 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.

1. Do you know if I can I sale my cookies online? If so, can I sale them to out of state customers?
2. And can I sale Indonesian bakery (cookies, cakes, mostly vegan) from my home kitchen?
3. Where can I get the license?

Thanks.

    1. Please read the notes in the selling section. In addition to that, it’s worth noting that shipping would not be allowed. If it were my business, I would sell online, but you must meet the buyer in-person to deliver their purchase.
    The law does not say whether or not interstate sales are allowed. Almost all states disallow interstate sales, since the federal food laws disallow sales of homemade food. If it were my business, I would not do interstate sales. I doubt, however, given that you can’t ship, that interstate sales would ever really be feasible anyhow.

    2. As long as they fall into the list of allowed foods and don’t need refrigeration, then yes.

    3. You don’t need a license — all you need is training.

If I use a commercial kitchen does the labeling change? I am not technically making food…simply repackaging spices and teas.

    Assuming that you’re operating as a cottage food business and not with a commercial license, then the labeling would not change. It’s funny that you ask this, simply because Colorado is one of the only states that actually allows cottage food operators to also use a commercial kitchen for preparing their products. In basically any other state, you would need to follow the federal labeling requirements.

    If it needs refrigeration, it would not be allowed. I assume you’re trying to determine if it needs to be refrigerated or not.
    Interestingly, each state has different rules about what “non-potentially hazardous” means, but generally, it refers to items that are below a pH of 4.6 or below a water activity level of 0.85. I would think that a frosting would have a rather high water activity level. You can get products tested in a lab to determine if they are shelf-stable… I know a shelf-stable cream cheese frosting is possible, but my guess is that yours is not quite there. That’s just a guess though.

I am curious about the 5,000 sale limit of each product. What if I sold Sugar cookies and were shaped and decorated a different way? Would that fall into all the same sugar cookie product or would they each be different??

    I think different shapes would be the same product, since it’s the same recipe. But if you get creative, you could probably pretty easily expand your sugar cookie business. For instance, you could simply switch the extracts used for different products… you could have “Lemon Sugar Cookies”, “Almond Sugar Cookies”, etc.

or comment as a guest
* required (your email will not be displayed on the site)
Allowed tags