Cottage Foods Act

The Colorado House of Representatives recently passed the Colorado Cottage Foods Act. The bill awaits the governorís signature.

What does it mean to folks like you and me?

Weíll have greater access to ma and pa businesses that want to sell home-baked goods, candies, jams, jellies and dried herbal products. Senate Bill 48 will give cottage bakers and other home-industry, non-hazardous food producers the freedom to sell their goods directly to consumers, which currently is prohibited under Colorado law. Non-hazardous foods generally are low in moisture and may be maintained at room temperature with minimal risk of spoiling.

These foods do not include items which need refrigeration, such as meat or cooked vegetables. Pickles, low-acid foods and home canned items are not included. But backyard gardeners wanting to sell braids of garlic might be able to put up a lemonade-stand-type kiosk and peddle their wares without having to go through the red tape of acquiring a commercial license.

The Montrose legislator who sponsored the bill said this will allow home cooks a chance to make some extra income from kitchen creations, as long as they are certified in safe food handling and they sell their food directly to consumers, such as through a farmersí market, a roadside stand or from home. They canít sell to restaurants.

The bill will help food pantries and soup kitchens distribute donated home baked goods to their clientele, releasing them from most liability. It will also allow church kitchens and non-profits to loan their kitchens without liability.

The Colorado Cottage Foods Act would add Colorado to the list of 26 other states who allow home-based bakeries.

Over all this sounds like a good idea if it helps get small producers into the game.

I know that it will make things easier for Adobe House Farmís Linley Dixon. The young Durango farmerís rosemary basil limeade, a popular Farmerís Market beverage treat, has to be made in a commercial kitchen, something the young farmer isnít ready to build in her first season as a farmer. Thanks to Lindaís Local Foods Cafť, Dixon is able to use that restaurantís kitchen to prepare the value-added product made from organic herbs she grows on her farm.

If the new law passes, it will be interesting to see how Ė or if Ė city and county planners find a way to allow sales from residential-zoned neighborhoods. A ceiling of $5000 per productis placed on how much entrepreneurs can make in a year. Does that mean if Ma bakes 10 types of cookies, she can make $50,000 worth of loviní from her oven without having to invest in commercial property or a commercial kitchen?

There are questions consumers will be asking. Who will oversee health and safety standards in home bakeries and candy kitchens? No health inspections will be required, but labels on these products will be required to disclose that fact.

Small businesses that have made the financial investment, jumped through the hoops and are subject to inspections, regulations and standards, are likely to be the first to object to the Cottage Foods Act, if Governor Hickenlooper signs it into law.

What do you think? Will this creative legislation help small food producers launch food businesses that benefit consumers? Or will it be detrimental and unfair ?

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