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cottage food community

Texas

Texas passed an amendment (HB 970) to their cottage food law in September 2013, which greatly loosened the restrictions of Texas’ previous laws.

The biggest change with the new law is that cottage food operations can now sell outside of their homes, such as at farmers markets or other events. Indirect sales to retail stores are still not allowed, but it is a huge step of progress. Texas also now has a good number of foods that are allowed to be made from home, and the sales limit per year is still $50,000. Although no licenses are required, cottage food operations now need to take a food handler’s training class.

A new bill (HB 2600) was introduced in 2015, but it died in its legislative session. It would have created a new type of home food business, termed a “home food processor”, and it would not have affected the current cottage food law. It was a fairly ambitious bill, aiming to let home food processors sell from any venue, ship within Texas, and make more food items (like perishable baked goods). A version of this bill will probably be reintroduced in 2016.

Selling

Sales cannot be made at privately sponsored public events (like craft fairs and flea markets).

Only roadside stands that are on farms are allowed.

Allowed Foods

Only traditional cucumber pickles are allowed. Some types of chocolate-covered items (like chocolate-covered graham crackers and rice krispie treats) are not 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

Sales are limited to $50,000 per year

Business

Food handler training program

Cottage food operators must take an accredited training program for food handlers. There are many options to choose from, including online courses that usually cost $10 – $15.

Labeling

Sample Label

Chocolate Chip Cookies

The label must contain any statement that the food is not inspected by the health department or a local health department.


Forrager Cookie Company

123 Chewy Way, Cookietown, TX 73531

Although a specific allergen list is not required, any major food allergens in your products must be listed in the ingredients.

Resources

Law Dates
September 2011
SB 81
July 2012
25 TAC 229.661
September 2013
HB 970
This page was last updated on

Comments

David,

I am interested in making baked goods (cookies) then shipping them to customers. I understand that the cottage food law prevents this but am wondering if i would just need a food handlers license and commercial kitchen or if I would need to also have additional permits and go through the city.

    I don’t know all of the requirements, but I know you at least need a commercial kitchen and license from your health dept. You should contact your health dept for the details.

Hello, David. Can a cottage bakery sell frosted cupcakes/cakes, even though frosting is required to be refrigerated after opening (and considered a “perishable” food item)? I find it hard to believe that cottage bakeries are selling plain cupcakes and cakes without frosting, and yet, wouldn’t frosted baked goods be illegal according to Texas’ cottage laws? This is something I have been wondering about for awhile. Please respond when you have a chance. Thanks!

    You can sell baked goods with certain types of frosting that don’t require refrigeration. Many store-bought frosting containers say something like, “Please refrigerate after opening”, but that recommendation is only to preserve freshness and flavor… most won’t actually spoil or become harmful. You’ll notice that mustard containers also recommend refrigeration, but do not require it.

    Frostings that likely need to be refrigerated include cream or eggs — there are a number of factors that could cause it to be potentially hazardous. It’s confusing, because some store-bought frostings actually do need to be refrigerated. You should look at the ingredient lists and do research online if you’re unsure, or contact the health dept.

    Hello, David. I appreciate your advice!

    I only like to use homemade frosting. My specialty is vegan baking, as I never use animal products or by-products. So, there isn’t any perishables like milk or butter in my frosting. However, one of the ingredients I use is a vegan “butter” made with various types of oils. I called the company who makes it, and they told me the “butter” can be left out of the fridge for 5 hours before it “possibly” starts to go rancid. (They were not even certain that it would go bad, they just said it “possibly” will go bad.) They said the main reason it needs to be put in the fridge by 5 hours is because the oils will start to separate.

    Also, please tell me if it is legal to sell something made from a mix? Or would it be considered fraudulent, as if stealing another company’s product and passing it off as my own? I am asking because I make a cinnamon cookie that everyone raves about, so I want to start selling it. However, nobody knows that I make it from a box-mix. Can I still bake and sell it as my own product?

    Thank you for your time and help!

    My guess (and it’s mostly a guess) is that vegan butter is okay to use. I’m not that familiar with it so I’d recommend you contact a health authority to confirm. I have heard of a few people getting frostings with vegan butters approved in other states.

    You can use a boxed mix: http://forrager.com/faq/#box-mix

Based on the information above, I could sell my baked goods at a state-certified farmers market. Would I be able to take money there since the other information I’ve read indicates all payment must take place at your home? Thanks so much!

    Yes, you can take money wherever you make a sale. If the “other information” you’re referring to are old comments, please note that the law used to only allow sales from home, but it was amended in 2013 to allow direct sales at some other venues.

Hi,

I wanted to know if I could sell homemade stocks and broths at farmers markets, etc. ?

Can you sell products from your private residence or personally deliver to a private residence and still have to abide buy this law?

Thanks!

    No — stocks and broths must be made in a commercial kitchen: http://forrager.com/faq/#commercial

    For items that are allowed under this law, you can sell from your residence and deliver to private residences. All sales of homemade food (for personal profit) must abide by the requirements of this law.

I am planning to buy a freeze drying machine to accommodate the overflow of vegetables in an aquaponics system.
Do you think that it would be difficult to get an amendment passed to allow the freeze-dried veggies to be sold as a cottage item?

    The current law allows dried produce, so I think you can already sell freeze dried items under this law. Freeze drying removes more moisture than dehydrating, so it should be even safer.

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