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Colorado Cottage Food Laws and Regulations: How to sell your homemade foods in Colorado
Colorado Cottage Food Laws, Regulations and Facts
Date of the enactment of the Colorado cottage food law: March 15, 2012; revisions since.
A copy of the
most current version of the Colorado cottage food bill can be found here.
Which foods are subject to the Colorado Cottage Food law?
Cottage food producers may make and sell foods that are
non-potentially hazardous, or in other words, do not require
refrigeration for safety. This includes pickled fruits and
vegetables with a finished equilibrium pH of 4.6 or below, ,
including candies, fruit Up to 250 dozen whole eggs per month
may also be sold. Foods that qualify under the Colorado cottage food law include:
- Whole Eggs
- Dehydrated Produce
- Jams, Jellies and Preserves
- Fruit Butter
- Certain Baked Goods
- Empanadas, tortillas
- and other similar products that do not require refrigeration
Foods not allowed under the Colorado cottage food law include
- Fresh or dried meat or meat productsincluding jerky
- Canned fruits, vegetables, flavored oils, salsas, etc.
- Fish and shellfish products
- Canned pickled products (corn relish and pickles)
- Raw seed sprouts
- Baked goods such as cream, custard or meringue pies and
cakes or pastries with cream cheese icing or fillings
- Milk and dairy products including hard or soft cheeses and
- Cut fresh fruits and vegetables or juices made from these
- Ice and ice products
- Barbeque sauces, ketchups, mayonnaise, mustards
- Foccaccia-style breads with vegetables or cheeses
- Ready to drink brewed coffee (beverages)
- Pepper jelly (jalapeno, habanero)
- Pumpkin butter
- Fresh or dehydrated pasta
- Oils or vinegars, including flavored or infused
If your food product does not meet the definition of a Cottage
You may still be able to make and sell it commercially,
through a startup approach.
First, you may be able to rent space in a local licensed commercial kitchen.
Second, if that doesn't work, you may be able to get a co-packer to make the food for you.
See this page for detailed information about selling foods that do
not meet the Cottage Food definition.
This guide to Colorado retail food
businesses is also helpful!
- Home - Means a primary residence occupied
by the producer producing the food allowed by the Colorado
Cottage Foods Act.
- Non-potentially Hazardous - Means any food
or beverage that, when stored under normal conditions without
refrigeration, will not support the rapid and progressive growth
of microorganisms that cause food infections or food
intoxications. Does not include low-acid or acidified foods.
- Producer -- Means a person who is a resident
of Colorado and who prepares non-potentially hazardous foods in
a home kitchen or similar venue for sale directly to consumers
Steps to take to start preparing and selling Cottage Foods:
- Review the Cottage Foods Act:
Colorado cottage food Act Summary PDF
FAQS - What Are Cottage Foods; Frequently Requested Information
Training: Complete a food safety course. The Colorado Cottage Foods Act
requires "producers to take a food safety course that includes
basic food handling training and is comparable to, or is a
course given by, the Colorado State University Extension Service
or a state, county, or district public health agency, and must
maintain a status of good standing in accordance with the course
requirements, including attending any additional classesif
necessary. Safe food handling courses should include topics on
safe food sources, personal hygiene, sanitation of equipment,
worker illness, food temperature control, safe water, sewage
disposal, pest control, proper hand washing, and control of
toxics. Contact the CSU Extension Service or your local public
health agency, who may offer this training.
- Contact your local city and county offices to see if you need a business license.
Cottage food operations require no license or permit from the
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and are not
inspected by any state or local government entity.
Cottage Food Production Operations must label all of their food products properly,
which includes specified information on the label of each unit
of food product offered or distributed for sale. A cottage food
operation may only sell cottage food products which are offered
with a label containing the following information (printed in
- The identification of the cottage food product;
- The producer's name and the address at which the cottage
food was produced;
- The producer's current phone
number or email address;
- The date on which the food
- A complete list of ingredients; and
- The following statement: "
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. "
A sample Colorado label is shown at right and
may assist with developing your cottage food product
Free Product label templates
The following documents provide examples and templates for labeling. You can find the Avery™ label template
number in each document. For the template files, you need Microsoft Word™ 2007 or higher.
Depending on the
size of your business, your label must comply with Federal label
regulations and with the new nutritional labeling law. You can
download a copy of
the FDA Food Labeling Guide here it s an illustrated booklet
that should answer all your questions.
Where may Cottage Food Production Operations sell the food products?
Cottage Food Products may only be sold directly to the
consumer . They may not be sold across state lines. In other
words, only be sold within the state. You can sell your
- from your home,
- at your residential roadside stand,
- through a CSA,
- at a farmers' market.
- on the internet (the method of direct product delivery to
consumer may not involve interstate commerce. - in other words,
over the internet to consumers IN Colorado)
Note: sales or providing cottage foods to grocery stores or other
retail food establishments is prohibited.
Whole fresh eggs are a special case in Colorado.
- Type of shell eggs can be sold - Chicken,
quail, duck, and turkey eggs.
- Number of eggs sold - the number sold
cannot exceed 250 dozen per month. If a producer sells more than
250 dozen shells eggs per month, then a license is required.
- Labeling - Eggs must be handled and labeled
in accordance with the requirements outlined in Section
- Information required on egg cartons -- The
address at which the eggs originated and the packaging date.
Additionally,any eggs not treated for salmonella must also
include the following statement on the package:
Handling Instructions: To prevent illness from bacteria, keep
eggs refrigerated, cook eggs until yolks are firm, and cook any
foods containing eggs thoroughly. These eggs do not come from a
- Cartons - New, clean and unused egg cartons
must be used.
- Storage temperature - Eggs should be
maintained at 41°F or below.
For chicken eggs, contact the Colorado Department of Agriculture
at (303) 477-0076. For all other types of shell eggs, contact our
Manufactured Food Program at (303) 692-3645, option 2.
- Annual sales limit - Net sales for
each product produced by a cottage food operation must not
exceed $5,000 annually. Of course, you may may different
products (like different flavors) and the cap applies only to
each flavor, not the total of the different products.
- Only direct to consumer sales -- Products
must be sold directly by the cottage food operator to the end
consumer. Sales by consignment or to retail food or wholesale
food establishments are prohibited.
- Complaints - If your cottage food operation
is the subject of a complaint, you must allow a state or local
public health employee in your cottage food operation to conduct
an inspection. The employee will inspect your cottage food
operation to determine compliance with applicable laws, rules
and regulations. If, as a cottage food producer, you produce
foods that are not allowed by the provision of the Colorado
Cottage Foods Act, the State or local public health agency has
the authority to embargo and/or condemn the product in question.
Since the production of foods not allowed under the Colorado
Cottage Foods Act would require a license and a commercial
facility, a local public health agency may use the enforcement
provisions of the Food Protection Act to obtain compliance.
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.
And this pH meter is really good, but isn't always available.
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,
- Recipe, including procedures and ingredients
- Amount canned and sold
- Canning date
- Sale dates and locations
- Gross sales receipts
- Results of any pH test
Although inspections are not required, you should consider doing
- 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
- Wash hands frequently while working
- Consider annual testing of water if using a private well
- Allergens: 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
- crustacean shellfish,
- tree nuts,
- wheat and
- 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
Colorado cottage food laws and regulations
Frequently Asked Questions
- Question: How do I sell my cottage food products?
Answer: You may sell your products di- rectly to the consumer
from your residence, roadside stand,
community supported agriculture organization, or other similar
- Question: Am I able to deliver my cottage food products?
Answer: Yes, you may deliver your cottage food products
directly to the consumer.
- Question: Do I need a permit or license for my cottage food
Answer: No, you do not need a state permit or
license for your cottage food operation. However, you
check with your city or county for any other requirements or
recommendations they may have.
- Question: Is there any limit to how much I can earn from my
cottage food opera- tion?
Answer: Yes, cottage food
operators are limited to $5,000 in net sales per product each
year. It is
the operator's responsibility to comply with
applicable laws, rules and regulations regarding the
collection of sales tax.
Contacts for questions
Phone: 303-692-3645, option 2.