Extension Agent: Cooking up a cottage food business

Erika Bochat

Recent changes to the Texas Cottage Food Law mean that the amount of specific foods that can be prepared and sold from an unlicensed residential kitchen has been expanded.

This is great news if you are like me and have been thinking about testing the market with a favorite family sauce, bread, jelly or dip mix.

The previous law limited the specific foods that could be sold primarily include baked goods, jams and jellies and dried herbs. Under the amended law, which took effect Sept. 1, the list of foods that can be sold has been expanded to include foods such as pickles, popcorn snacks, candy, unroasted nut butters and vinegar.

In addition, these specific foods can be sold at venues outside the home, such as farmers markets, roadside stands and fairs. To ensure full disclosure, all foods sold must be properly labeled and include the name and address of the operation, the name of the product, possible allergens that are in the food and a statement saying the food was not prepared in a kitchen that is inspected by the Department of State Health Services or a local health department.

If you are interested in learning more about cottage food production and the newly amended Texas House Bill 970 law related to home-based food operations, plan to attend the Cottage Food Law update scheduled from noon to 1 p.m. Dec. 16 at the Victoria City-County Health Department's Classrooms A and B. Bring your lunch and join us for some lunchtime learning fun.

The amended law also requires anyone who operates a cottage food business to have a food handler's card by Jan. 1. Individuals interested in receiving their food handler's card can attend the next food handlers' course scheduled after the update Dec. 16.

You can register for the food handlers' course by calling the Victoria County Extension Office at 361-575-4581 no later than Dec. 12. Cost for the course is $20, and payment can be made at the door. You can also complete the food handlers course online at foodsafetyonline.tamu.edu.

For more information about food production, food preservation, food safety or the Cottage Food Production Law, you can contact me at the extension office.

Erika Bochat is a Victoria County extension agent - Family and Consumer Sciences.