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New Mexico Cottage Food Laws and Regulations: How to sell your homemade foods in New Mexico

New Mexico Cottage Food Laws, Regulations and Facts

Date of the enactment of the original cottage food law: January 2010

Effective date of revised rules: July 1, 2021, big changes! The bill removes the requirement for a state permit, though counties may still impose a cottage food permit . Beginning July 1, 2021, individuals may prepare certain low risk food items in their private farm, ranch or residence and sell them directly to consumers without a permit from NMED.

Which foods are subject to the New Mexico Cottage Food law?

Allowed foods

Food produced must be non-time/temperature control for safety (Non-TCS). Food that meets this definition only requires simple production steps and does not require refrigeration when complete.

Examples of non-TCS food include:

  • Non-cream filled baked goods that do not require refrigeration, such as cakes, cookies, yeast breads, pies, pastries
  • Candy
  • Popcorn
  • Chocolate covered pretzels
  • Dehydrated fruits
  • Granola/dry mixes
  • Roasted coffee
  • Whole fruits and vegetables
  • Standard high sugar fruit jams/jellies
  • Please note that this is not an exhaustive list, nor does it dictate what you may or may not sell under the Act.

Prohibited foods

TCS Foods, alcohol-containing food, or alcoholic beverages may not be produced at a private farm, ranch or residence. TCS foods must be produced in an NMED permitted commercial kitchen. Individuals producing alcoholic food or beverages must contact the New Mexico Alcoholic Beverage Control Division.

The definition of TCS food on page 21 of the NMED Retail and Manufactured Food Field Guide may provide the assistance to decide if your food is TCS. You may also contact a Process Authority to assist you in making the determination. Here is the contact information for one Process Authority in NM: Dr. Willis Fedio, NMSU Food Safety Laboratory, [email protected], on the web.

Examples of foods that are not allowed under the Act include:

  • Meat and meat products, including jerky
  • Salsa
  • Fish and fish products like smoked fish
  • Foods containing CBD
  • Foods containing CBD, hemp, or hemp extract (see question #4)
  • Vegetable jams/jellies (e.g., hot pepper jelly)
  • Canned fruits or vegetables
  • Canned pickled products like corn relish, pickles, or sauerkraut
  • Pies or cakes that require refrigeration like banana cream, pumpkin, lemon meringue or custard pies; cheesecake; and cakes with glaze or frosting that requires refrigeration (e.g., cream cheese frosting)
  • Milk and dairy products like cheese or yogurt
  • Cut fruits and vegetables
  • Caramel apples
  • Hummus
  • Garlic in oil mixtures
  • Beverages like fruit/vegetable juices, Kombucha tea, and apple cider
  • Sprouts
  • Food products with fresh vegetables, fruits and/or cheeses
  • Salad dressings
  • Acidified foods
  • Please note that this is not an exhaustive list, nor does it dictate what you may not produce under the Act.

If your food product does not meet the definition of a Cottage Food:

Don't give up. 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

Definitions:

  • "home food

Licensing

 

Labeling requirements

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. You must provide consumers the information in one of the following ways:

  • On a package label.
  • On a label attached to a bulk container (when items are offered from a bulk container).
  • On a place card displayed at the point of sale (when items are not packaged or offered from a bulk container).
  • On a webpage where the items are offered for sale.

All processed packaged foods bear a label stating the

  • The name, home address, telephone number and email address of the processor of the food item.
  • The common or usual name of the food item (i.e. Chocolate Chip Cookies)
  • The ingredients of the food item listed from most to least present in the item.
  • All sub-ingredients must be included on the ingredients statement. For example, when including "butter" on the ingredients statement, you must include all ingredients listed on the butter package like this: "butter (cream (milk), salt)".
  • The following statement must be on the label: "This product is home produced and is exempt from state licensing and inspection. This product may contain allergens."
  • It is recommended (but not required) that you also put the net weight of the food in English or metric units.

It is recommended that honey manufacturers/processors include this additional statement to their product label: "Honey is not recommended for infants less than twelve (12) months of age".

Here is a free Microsoft Word label template which you can download and edit.  These labels are already formatted to fit on Avery Template 22820  Print-to-the-Edge Oval, Labels 2" x 3-1/3", 8 per Sheet, Glossy White. You can get the label stock online (see at right). 

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. You may see that the sample label does not include a "nutrional panel" (calories, fat, protein, vitamins, etc.) . This is because if you sell (in the U.S. only) fewer than 10,000 units and hire fewer than 10 full-time employees yearly; you do not have to have a nutrition panel on your label, nor file a small business nutritional labeling exemption notice with the FDA.

Where may Cottage Food Production Operations sell the food products?

Cottage Food Products may not be sold across state lines.  In other words,  only be sold within the state. They may be sold directly to the consumer from the home where the products are produced and online, and they can be shipped within the state.

You may sell your homemade food items directly to consumers within the state of New Mexico at places like farmers' markets, festivals, on the internet, at roadside stands, at the seller's home for pick-up or delivery or through mail delivery.

Homemade items may not be sold to a restaurant, a wholesaler or distributor, or outside the state of New Mexico. If you would like to produce food items to be sold to these types of facilities a commercial manufactured food permit from NMED is required.

 

Other requirements

  • You must obtain a Food Handler Card from an approved food handler card program before beginning production.
  • You must also:
    • Maintain a sanitary kitchen.
    • Practice good personal hygiene.
    • Protect kitchen from rodents and pests at all times. Only use pest control products in accordance with the label and that are approved for food service areas.
    • Keep pets and children out of kitchen while in production.
    • Store food in a sanitary manner at all times.
    • Transport food in a sanitary manner, protecting it from pets, children and other hazards. For example, vehicle compartments used to transport animals must not be used to transport food.

Recommendations:

Beyond the requirements, common sense, good practices and reducing liability suggests you should do the following.

Training

Take the ServSafe® training classes for Manager and employees, the 7th Edition Book that accompanies this course should be purchased here.. 

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.
Short-range paper 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, including:

  • ​Recipe, including procedures and ingredients
  • Amount canned and sold
  • Canning date
  • Sale dates and locations
  • Gross sales receipts
  • Results of any pH test

Sanitation

Although inspections are not required, you should consider doing the following:

  • ​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 out
  • Wash hands frequently while working
  • Consider annual testing of water if using a private well

Best Practices

  • 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 allergens are
    • milk,
    • eggs,
    • fish,
    • crustacean shellfish,
    • tree nuts,
    • peanuts,
    • wheat and
    • soybean.
  • 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 discarded.

More resources:

Questions? Contact Information:



Above is the
2020 version of
the Ball Blue Book