Texas passed an amendment (HB 970) to their cottage food law in September 2013, which greatly loosened the restrictions of their original cottage food law (SB 81). In 2019, they passed another amendment (SB 572) which greatly expanded it again.
After many attempts to improve the law, Texas now has a good cottage food law. Producers can sell anywhere in the state, including online sales delivered or shipped within the state. Texas allows more foods than most states, and even allows frozen produce — a first for a traditional cottage food law.
There are two main limitations to this law: 1) annual sales are limited to $50k, and 2) indirect sales are not allowed (such as selling through retail/grocery stores).
Although no licenses from the health department are required, producers (and their employees) need to take a food handler’s training course. Therefore, it is very easy for most people to start selling homemade food in Texas.
A couple bills were introduced in 2015 (HB 2600) and 2017 (HB 1926), but they died in their legislative sessions. The bills were similar, and would have created a new type of home food business, termed a “home food processor”. It would not have affected the current cottage food law. Home food processors would have been able to sell from any venue (including indirect sales), ship within Texas, and make more food items (like perishable baked goods).
You can sell online, but you must personally deliver or ship your products to the customer. Before a customer pays online, you need to inform them of most labeling information.
Although you cannot let a retail store or business sell on your behalf, you can setup a table or stand in a store and sell there.
If you sell acidified (pickled) or fermented foods, you must follow additional requirements. For fermented foods, only fermented vegetables are allowed, like sauerkraut and kimchi.
Only high-acid or acidified fruit butters, which have a final pH of 4.6 or below, are allowed.
If you sell frozen produce, you must keep it at a temperature of 32 degrees or below at all times.
The requirements for selling items with alcohol (confections, extracts, etc) changed in 2019, and these items are now allowed without a special permit. For more information, please see here.
You (and your employees) must take an accredited training program for food handlers. There are many options to choose from, including online courses that usually cost $10 – $15 and take a few hours to complete.
If you sell acidified (pickled) or fermented foods, you must follow additional requirements.
First, you must ensure that the pH of your items are at 4.6 or below. There are two ways to do this:
- You can use an approved recipe. The health department has listed some approved recipe sources on its website. If you want to use your own recipe, you can get it approved by either testing it in a laboratory, or having it approved by a process authority.
- You can check the finished pH of every batch with a calibrated pH meter.
Second, you must also add a batch number to each of these items, and keep records for 12 months that include:
- The batch number
- The recipe used
- The recipe source, or testing results
- The date the batch was made
Pickled cucumbers are exempt from all of these requirements.
Zoning laws cannot prohibit a cottage food operation. If your municipality says you cannot operate from your home, you should dispute it.
Chocolate Chip Cookies
"This food is made in a home kitchen and is not inspected by the Department of State Health Services or a local health department."
Forrager Cookie Company
123 Chewy Way, Cookietown, TX 73531
Contains: milk, eggs, wheat, soy
If you sell online, you must inform the customer of all labeling information (except for your home address) before you collect payment. Although you do not need to post your home address online, you still need to include it on the physical label(s) that comes with their order.
If you sell acidified (pickled) or fermented products, you must add a batch number to each item, and keep batch records for 12 months.
If you sell frozen produce, you must include this on the label: “SAFE HANDLING INSTRUCTIONS: To prevent illness from bacteria, keep this food frozen until preparing for consumption.” (12-point type)
If you sell honey, there are some additional labeling requirements.