A Comprehensive Guide to Homemade Food Business in Texas

    The Texas Cottage Food Law

    Section #1:**

     

    DEFINITION OF COTTAGE FOOD PRODUCTION OPERATION  

    1.1.Cottage food production operation is an individual, who is operating out of the individual's home, and who produces:

     

    • a baked good that is not a time and temperature control for safety food,
    • candy;
    • coated and uncoated nuts;
    • unroasted nut butters;
    • fruit butters;
    • a canned jam or jelly;
    • a fruit pie;
    • dehydrated fruit or vegetables, including dried beans;
    • popcorn and popcorn snacks;
    • cereal, including granola;
    • dry mix;
    • vinegar;
    • pickled fruit or vegetables, including beets and carrots, that are preserved in vinegar, brine, or a similar solution at an equilibrium pH value of 4.6 or less;
    • mustard;
    • roasted coffee or dry tea;
    • a dried herb or dried herb mix;
    • plant-based acidified canned goods;
    • fermented vegetable products, including products that are refrigerated to preserve quality;
    • frozen raw and uncut fruit or vegetables; or
    • any other food that is not a time and temperature control for safety food;

    The Texas Cottage Food Law (2019) at a Glance*

    1.2. It is an individual, who is operating out of the individual's home, and who:

    • has an annual gross income of $50,000 or less from the sale of food described in this section;
    • sells the foods only directly to consumers; and
    • delivers products to the consumer at the point of sale or another location designated by the consumer.

     

    So you need to pay attention to this section to stay compliant with the Texas Cottage Food Law.

    Section #2:**

     

    PERMITING REQUIREMENTS   

    Cottage food production operation is not a food service establishment.

    Local government authority, including a local health department, may not regulate the production of food at a cottage food production operation.

    Cottage food production operation may not require a permit or license until you're operating out of the individual's home and in compliance with rules set by section #1 (above).

    However, if DSHS or local health department has reason to believe that cottage food production operation poses an immediate and serious threat to human life or health, they may take action, including getting a warrant to enter individual's home, and shutting down operation.

    No municipal zoning ordinance can individual from having a cottage food operation at home. However, individual's neighbors can still take action against cottage food production operation if the business becomes a nuisance to them

    Section #3:**

     

    PACKAGING REQUIREMENTS  

    Food described in section #1 (above) must be packaged by cottage food production operation in a manner that prevents product contamination, except that a food item is not required to be packaged if it is too large or bulky for conventional packaging.

    Like wedding cakes or cupcake bouquets, are not required to be packaged. 

    So you need to pay attention to this section to stay compliant with Texas Cottage Food Law.

    Section #4:**

     

    LABELING REQUIREMENTS  

    The executive commissioner adopts rules requiring producers to label all of the foods described in section #1 (above) that sells to consumers.

    Cottage food production operation should issue a label for every item for sell and the label must include:

    • the name and address of the cottage food production operation; and
    • a statement that the food is not inspected by the department or a local health department.

    4.1. For foods not required to be packaged, the information required to be included by you on the label described in this section must be provided to the consumer on an invoice or receipt issued for each completed transaction.

    4.2. All frozen raw and uncut fruit or vegetables for sell must include on the label of the frozen fruit or vegetables or on an invoice or receipt provided with the frozen fruit or vegetables when sold the following statement in at least 12-point font:  "SAFE HANDLING INSTRUCTIONS: To prevent illness from bacteria, keep this food frozen until preparing for consumption."

     

    So you need to pay attention to this section to stay compliant with Texas Cottage Food Law.

    Section #5:**

     

    SALES OPERATIONS REQUIREMENTS

    Cottage food production operation may not sell any of the foods described in section #1 (above) at wholesale. Producer may not sell food to a reseller such as a grocery store, restaurant, or coffee shop either. 

    5.1. Cottage food production operation may sell foods described in section #1 (above) within the limits of TEXAS ONLY through the Internet or by mail order only if:

    • consumer purchases the food through the Internet or by mail order from cottage food production operation and it personally deliver the food to the consumer; and
    • before cottage food production operation accepts payment for the food, it should provide all labeling information required by section #4 (above) by:

                     (A)  posting a legible statement on their Internet

                             website;

                     (B)  publishing the information in a catalog; or

                     (C)  otherwise communicating the information to the

                             consumer.

    5.2. If cottage food production operation sells foods described by section #1 (above) in Texas:

         (A)  cottage food production operation is not required to include home address in the labeling information required under Subsection #5.1. (above) before it accepts payment for the food; and

         (B)  cottage food production operation shall provide home address on the label of the food in the manner required by section #4.1. (above) after it accepts payment for the food.

     

    So you need to pay attention to this section to stay compliant with Texas Cottage Food Law.

     

    Section #6:**

     

    EDUCATION REQUIREMENTS

    6.1. Cottage food production operation must have successfully completed a basic food safety education or training program for accredited food handlers prior to selling homemade food.

     

    6.2. Cottage food production operation may not process, prepare, package, or handle cottage food products unless:

              (1)  it meets the requirements of Subsection #6.1.

                     (above);

              (2)  is directly supervised by an individual described by

                     Subsection #6.1.(above); or

              (3)  is a member of the household in which the cottage

                    food products are produced.

     

    Section #7:**

     

    REQUIREMENTS FOR SALE OF CERTAIN COTTAGE FOODS 

    If cottage food production operation sells to consumers pickled fruit or vegetables, fermented vegetable products, or plant-based acidified canned goods it should consider:

    7.1. use a recipe that:

           (A)  is from a source approved by the DSHS 

           (B)  has been tested by an appropriately certified laboratory that confirmed the finished fruit or vegetable, product, or good has an equilibrium pH value of 4.6 or less; or

           (C)  is approved by a qualified process authority; or

    7.2. if cottage food production operation doesn't use a recipe described by subdivision #7.1.(above), it should test each batch of the recipe with a calibrated pH meter to confirm the finished fruit or vegetable, product, or good has an equilibrium pH value of 4.6 or less.

    7.3. That it may not sell to consumers pickled fruit or vegetables, fermented vegetable products, or plant-based acidified canned goods before you comply with subsection A (above).

     

    7.4. For each batch of pickled fruit or vegetables, fermented vegetable products, or plant-based acidified canned goods, cottage food production operation must:

                (1)  label the batch with a unique number; and

                (2)  for a period of at least 12 months, keep a record 

                       that  includes:

                            (A)  the batch number;

                            (B)  the recipe used by the producer;

                            (C)  the source of the recipe or testing results, as

                                   applicable; and

                            (D)  the date the batch was prepared.

    7.5. This section does not apply to pickled cucumbers***.

     

     

    ***If you’re selling cucumber pickles, which were allowed without these requirements from 2013-2019, the recipe testing and record-keeping rules do not apply!  They must still be labeled per the cottage food labeling requirements. 

     

    Section #8:**

     

    REQUIREMENTS FOR SALE OF FROZEN FRUIT OR VEGETABLES 

    If cottage food production operation sells to consumers frozen raw and uncut fruit or vegetables, shall:

               (1)  store and deliver the frozen fruit or vegetables at an

                      air temperature of not more than 32 degrees   

                      Fahrenheit; and

     

                 (2)  label the fruit or vegetables in accordance with

                        Section #4 (above) with the following statement in

                        at least 12-point font: 

    "SAFE HANDLING INSTRUCTIONS: To prevent illness from bacteria, keep this food frozen until preparing for consumption."

     

    Section #9:**

     

    TIME AND TEMPERATURE CONTROL FOR SAFETY FOOD

    9.1."Time and temperature control for safety food" means a food that requires time and temperature control for safety to limit pathogen growth or toxin production. 

    9.2. The term includes a food that must be held under proper temperature controls, such as refrigeration, to prevent the growth of bacteria that may cause human illness. 

    9.3. A time and temperature control for safety food may include a food that contains protein and moisture and is neutral or slightly acidic, such as meat, poultry, fish, and shellfish products, pasteurized and unpasteurized milk and dairy products, raw seed sprouts, baked goods that require refrigeration, including cream or custard pies or cakes, and ice products. 

     

     9.4. The term does not include a food that uses time and temperature control for safety food as ingredients if the final food product does not require time or temperature control for safety to limit pathogen growth or toxin production.

     

    Except as otherwise provided by this section, you may not sell to consumers time and temperature control for safety foods.

     

    However, you may use potentially hazardous products as ingredients in your food (like milk, eggs, and cream) as long as your FINAL PRODUCT does not require refrigeration (cakes, cookies, candy, etc).

     

    *The official text of the SB 572 and Chapter 437 of THSC are available for your convenience on https://capitol.texas.gov/tlodocs/86R/billtext/html/SB00572S.htm and https://statutes.capitol.texas.gov/Docs/HS/htm/HS.437.htm accordingly.

     

    **The information contained in this fact sheet is not intended as legal advice. Consult with your attorney accordingly. 

     

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    The Cottage Food Business in Texas is regulated by the Cottage Food Law, which allows individuals to sell certain foods made in home kitchens, without having to get any food manufacturers’ permits or licenses, use a commercial kitchen, or be subject to inspections by the state or local health departments.

     

    It was illegal prior to 2011, to sell any food that a food operator prepared in a home kitchen. But that year, the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance (FARFA) worked to pass the first Texas Cottage Food Law, allowing people to sell a few specific low-risk foods to consumers who could only purchase the foods by traveling to the producers’ homes. The law was expanded in 2013, and now the latest revisions, filed as SB 572, go into effect on September 1, 2019.

     

    In 2019, the Texas Cottage Food Law made a significant shift, from allowing only specifically listed foods to allowing any non-TTCS food to be prepared at home and sold directly to consumers. The foods listed in the bill are now examples, rather than an exclusive list. Non-TTCS foods are foods with what’s called “low water activity” (somewhat like “moisture content” but a more scientific calculation of moisture available to support growth of bacteria and mold) and a low pH level, which also inhibits the growth of dangerous micro-organisms. Basically, non-TTCS foods are those that you would not normally keep in the refrigerator. But not all shelf-stable foods are non-potentially hazardous*.

     

    *Credit: farmandranchfreedom.org  

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    The Texas Cottage Food Law (2019)*

    The Texas Cottage Food Law Made a Significant Shift In Home Food Business Regulation