Time to crack open your recipe books, food entrepreneurs. A bill signed into law by Governor Perry overhauls regulation of so-called “cottage food businesses” to allow people to sell more products directly to consumers from more places: not just from their homes, but also at farmers markets, festivals, fairs and other events. The law takes effect September 1.
There are a few qualifications to the law, along with a list of banned foods, so here's an easy to digest breakdown of House Bill 910.
First of all, if you're operating a cottage food business, you must complete an accredited basic food safety program for food handlers like the ones listed here. You are not allowed to sell your food over the Internet, and your cottage food business can't earn more than $50,000 in gross income per year.
Food products that are legal to sell, which are specifically named in the bill, are the following:
- baked goods such as cookies, cakes, breads, Danish, donuts, pastries and pies
- coated and uncoated nuts
- unroasted nut butters
- fruit butters
- a canned jam or jelly
- dehydrated fruit or vegetables
- popcorn and popcorn snacks
- cereal, including granola
- dry mix
- roasted coffee or dry tea
- a dried herb or dried herb mix
You may not sell "potentially hazardous foods." Those are foods that can quickly expire, or need careful temperature control to prevent them from going bad. That includes fish, poultry or baked goods that require refrigeration.
“There is definitely consumer demand for these types of homemade foods, and many legal home bakers are eager to expand their product offerings to take advantage of the demand,” cottage food business owner Kelley Masters told the Austin Chronicle before a public hearing on the bill last month. "Many legal home bakers are eager to expand their product offerings to take advantage of the demand."
An earlier version of the regulations passed in 2011 limited the number of food products you could sell and only allowed sales directly from homes.