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Colorado Cottage Food Laws

Colorado Cottage Food Laws allow you to make homemade products that are non-potentially hazardous and do not require refrigeration.

Colorado has no license requirement and only requires you take a food safety course.

Colorado revised it’s cottage food act in 2016 which removed many restrictive codes and now allows you to get started almost instantly.

HOW TO START YOUR COTTAGE FOOD BUSINESS IN COLORADO – ALMOST INSTANTLY

Cottage Food Laws - Home Baking Profits

What steps do I need to take to start preparing and selling Cottage Foods?

  1. Review the revised Colorado Cottage Foods Act.
  2. Complete a food safety course. (see training below for 3 options)
  3. Contact your local city and county offices to see if you need a business license.

COLORADO COTTAGE FOOD LAWS – Foods That Are Allowed

Colorado Cottage Food Laws allow for the sale of non-potentially hazardous foods to be sold to consumers.

The following are examples of foods that are allowed under the Colorado Cottage Food Act.

  • Bakery products
  • Candy
  • Fruit butters
  • Jams
  • Jellies
  • Spices
  • Teas
  • Dehydrated produce
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Honey
  • Jams
  • Jellies
  • Preserves
  • Fruit Butter
  • Flour
  • Fruit empanadas
  • Tortillas
  • Pickled fruits and vegetables with a finished equilibrium pH of 4.6 or below

COLORADO COTTAGE FOOD ACT – PROHIBITED FOODS

Potentially hazardous foods that require time and/or temperature control for safety are not allowed to be produced under the cottage food laws.

  • Breads and pastries that contain cream cheese or custard
  • Salsa
  • Foods with a pH level above 4.7 or above (see testing below for more info)

To confirm if your product is eligible to be sold under the Act, you can contact:
(303) 692-3645, select option #2
[email protected]

Real Life Cottage Food Entrepreneurs and Opportunities

COTTAGE FOOD LAWS – LIMITS ON INCOME

Colorado restricts your net revenue to $10,000 per product. Fortunately they consider the same products with different flavors as being individual products.

For example: you can have a net income of up to $10,000 from blueberry muffins and switch over to bran muffins and you can make another $10,000.

Growing beyond cottage foods
As a cottage food producer you are limited to selling certain foods, at specific locations within Colorado and your net revenue is restricted to $10,000 per product.

As your business expands beyond these limits, you will need to register with us as a food manufacturer and/or become a licensed retail food establishment.

Click the link above for more information to help you grow a successful business beyond cottage foods.

NOTE: This limit is on net sales and not gross sales (like many states).

Additionally, allowing you to make up to $10,000 per product is one of the most lenient and fair systems I’ve seen among all states.

COLORADO COTTAGE FOOD LAWS REQUIRED TRAINING

What type of food safety training is required?


The Colorado Cottage Foods Act requires producers to complete a food safety training course prior to starting a cottage foods business.

The following options are available to meet this requirement. 

Only one of the three options below must be completed.

Trainees must remain in good standing with the course requirements including renewal of certificates of completion as required by the course developer. 

Option 1: Complete Food Safety Training for Colorado Cottage Food Producers, offered by Colorado State University Extension.

This is an in-person, classroom style training. Since 2014, 140 trainings have been implemented statewide. As a result, over 2,020 cottage food producers have received certificates of completion.

Certificates are good for three years from the date of completion.  Food Safety Training for Cottage Food Producers

If you already have a food safety training certificate from CSU Extension, but it has expired, you can take the online course to renew your certificate.  CSU Extension Recertification Training Webinar

Option 2: Obtain a Food Handlers Card.Producers can obtain a food handlers card by completing an online training course at State Food Safety. State Food Safety Food Handlers Card training

Option 3: Attend a food safety training course offered by your local public health agency. Some agencies offer classroom style food safety training to restaurant operators and staff.

Contact them to determine if cottage food producers can attend.  Find my local public health agency

ACIDITY LEVELS AND TESTING

Colorado doesn’t require testing but they offer free testing for the following to insure you are providing safe foods to your customers:

  • Chutney
  • Kimchi
  • Pickled fruits
  • Pickled vegetables
  • Pickles
  • Relish
  • Sauerkraut
  • Vinegar (fruit/vegetable)

Most states determine if a food is non-potentially hazardous by the acidity level found in the food. The higher the acidity, the more stable at a range of temps, that food product is.

For example: milk is low acidity and requires temperature controls.

The acidity of foods is measured by pH.

• The range of pH is commonly considered to extend from zero to 14. A pH value of 7 is neutral because pure water has a pH value of exactly 7. Values less than 7 are considered acidic, while those greater than 7 are considered basic or alkaline.

• All fruits are acidic foods and are usually tart and sour. Ex: tomato, lemon, peach, apple, etc.

• The FDA rule for acidic foods states that a food must have a pH below 4.6 to be sold as a minimally processed food.

• The reason for this is bacteria does not grow at this level of acidity.

• The exclusion shall not be construed as allowing the sale of low acid foods (pH > 4.6) in
hermetically sealed containers (i.e. home-canned green beans, peas, etc.) when such
food is not prepared in a permitted establishment. *Exceptions for Montgomery and Calhoun Counties.

TESTING

Some states require testing if the pH level is unknown. For many food products, the pH level is already known.

You can test for pH yourself using a pH spear tester. (make sure it is made for food and has a long spear tip).

Oklahoma State University shares an awesome guide for selecting the correct tester for foods and liquids which includes tips and tricks for operation and maintenance. Get The Guide Here.

WHERE CAN YOU SELL COTTAGE FOODS

There are restrictions on how and where you can sell your Cottage Foods product(s).

  • Product(s) must be delivered directly from producer to an informed end consumer and cannot be resold.
  • Product(s) cannot be sold to restaurants or grocery stores.
  • Product(s) may only be sold in Colorado. 
  • At the point of sale, clearly display a placard, sign or card with the following disclaimer: “This product was produced in a home kitchen that is not subject to state licensure or inspection. This product is not intended for resale.”

What is a designated representative?
A designated representative, is a representative of the cottage food producer who is knowledgeable about the product and able to answer general consumer questions about the product.

What is an informed end consumer?
An informed consumer, is a consumer who has been provided with general product information including the product name, address where the food was prepared, current telephone number or email address of the producer, date the food was produced, ingredients, and a disclaimer that the food was prepared in a home kitchen not subject to licensure or inspection and that it may contain common food allergens.

An end consumer is the person who purchases and consumes the product.

Can a producer sell their Cottage Foods product(s) at multiple locations and events, even if they occur on the same day and at the same time?
Yes. A producer or their designated representative can sell and deliver the product directly to an informed end consumer.

Can Cottage Foods be sold on the Internet?
Yes, internet sales are allowed.

The mechanism of direct product delivery can be determined between the producer and the informed end consumer as long as it does not involve interstate commerce.

Can I make my cottage foods for a catered event?
No. The Cottage Foods Act requires that product be sold by the producer or their designated representative directly to the informed end consumer.  

Can a retail food establishment (restaurant, mobile unit, grocery store, etc.) sell Cottage Foods?
No. Since these products are not from a licensed, inspected and regulated facility, they are not considered approved sources and therefore not allowed for sale in these types of establishments.

Can Cottage Foods be sold out of a store front or via consignment?
The law requires that Cottage Foods be sold directly to an informed end consumer from the producer or their designated representative.

The store and its employees would need to function as the designated representative.

Inside kitchenincome.com you can find out how many cottage food entrepreneurs are getting sales faster than they can make the food.

COLORADO COTTAGE FOOD LAWS LABELING REQUIREMENTS

Most states require labeling on any product produced at a home kitchen. However, even if your state doesn’t require labeling, this is your chance to stand out and show you care.

Packaging and Labeling

Do Cottage Foods have to be packaged and labeled?
Yes. All Cottage Foods should be packaged and labeled with specific information including an exact disclaimer prior to selling them directly to the informed consumer.

Grab common sized label templates here.
 

Can Cottage Foods be labeled as “allergen­ free”?
No. All Cottage Food products must be labeled with a disclaimer stating that they were produced in a home kitchen without regulatory oversight and may also contain common allergens.

Can Cottage Foods be labeled as “organic”?
Cottage Foods labeled as “organic” have to be certified by a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) – National Organic Program accredited certification agency.

A producer may list an ingredient as “organic” without obtaining certification as long as the term “organic” is not on the primary label.

Contact the Colorado Department of Agriculture, Plants Division for additional information.

Product label templates

For templates to print labels, see Printable Resources.

Below is an example of what the state of Arizona requires on their labels.

Using VistaPrint.com or similar – you can quickly create professional labels that not only serve to meet the state cottage food guidelines but also serve for marketing your awesome business and products.

You’ll find some fantastic examples of this from members inside VendorsUnited.com

Arizona Cottage Food Laws Labeling Rules

ALLERGENS ON LABELING

The FDA lists eight (8) major food allergens. Listing any of these on your label is a smart business practice and will certainly help your customers choose a product.

  • Milk.
  • Eggs.
  • Fish (e.g., bass, flounder, cod)
  • Crustacean shellfish (e.g., crab, lobster, shrimp)
  • Tree nuts (e.g., almonds, walnuts, pecans)
  • Peanuts.
  • Wheat.
  • Soybeans

Simply add to your label: “NOTICE: SOYBEANS USED IN THIS RECIPE” Some go as far to announce that a certain allergen is used in the same kitchen.

Some states require you list any potential allergens and potential for any cross contamination even if the allergen is not used in the recipe.

cOTTAGE FOOD TIPS AND BEST PRACTICES

SAFE PRACTICES

Much of this may seem like common sense, but even if you already know, it’s a good idea to remind yourself with a list of things that can prevent you from missing something small.

And if for no other reason… CYA! CYA = Cover Your A#%

CLEAN WORK AREA / WORK SPACE / SANITIZATION

Providing safe to eat foods from your kitchen – starts in your kitchen.

Keep your area clean and sanitized to avoid cross contamination and to insure you provide your customers and clients with the safest and best foods they can get.

The following are some “common” sense things you can do to insure the best environment for preparing foods to sell:

  • ​Keep all equipment and surface areas clean and sanitized
  • Make sure window and door screens are bug proof with no gaps
  • Keep ingredients separate to prevent cross contamination / e.g. raw eggs near flour
  • No pets in work area and preferably none in the home
  • Allow no-one with a cold, sniffles or sick in kitchen while preparing foods
  • Wipe down walls and clean floors daily
  • Use good lighting to avoid missing unclean areas
  • Keep window and door screens in good repair to keep insects out
  • Wash hands frequently while working and use food grade gloves for extra safety
  • Keep areas of food storage and equipment storage clean and sanitized

RECORD KEEPING

Why keep these types of records?
Let’s say the inspector calls you and says they got a report that your banana bread, someone purchased, made them sick.

You’ll be able to show that you didn’t even make banana bread that week and that the person who reported you, bought that 4 weeks ago and you weren’t even the one that sold it to him.

This does not need to be complicated. I love my yellow legal pads and they make an inexpensive tool for keeping up with the following:

  • The recipes you use including ingredients
  • The process you use to prepare that specific recipe: (can be just like recipe instructions)
  • Date made (can be coded for your own use only if your state doesn’t require the production date) e.g. Made 12.22.29 = 292212
  • Date sold (you can have a batch code to help track a certain batch) Simply write down date you sold an item
  • Location sold is another great piece of information to keep track of
  • Sales receipts are something great to keep for a couple of reasons and over at KitchenIncome.com I dive into the best practices, best systems and best methods for tracking, managing, selling and shipping.

COTTAGE FOOD lIABILITY INSURANCE

We live in a society that likes to sue. I can sue you for wearing that color shirt. No kidding!

Of course I probably won’t win, but at the very least, it’s gonna cause you stress and some costs.

Liability insurance is a MUST.

It can be expensive – but several years ago, I found FLIP and by far, they gave me the most protection (coverage) and allow you to run your cottage food business without fear of being sued.

WHY? Because they provide the lawyers. And their lawyers… they are good!

Of course you should price shop around with your local agent or a national brand company, but rest assured, I’ve done all the legwork for you.

Alternatively, some folks opt to get bonded. You’ve heard the saying before: “licensed and bonded”. A bond is usually provided from an insurance bonding company or your own insurance company.

My first time, I got a bond at State Farm.

A bond is expensive comparatively but is less out of pocket in the beginning. Of course, it’s way, way less insurance / coverage too.

A $10,000 bond may cost $50 annually while a $2,000,000.00 liability policy may cost a few hundred a year.

No matter what you decide… knowing you’re insured against frivolous lawsuits is worth every penny.

COLORADO TAXES ON YOUR NEW BUSINESS

Your cottage food business is subject to income and sales tax, and in some locations you may need to get additional licenses or pay additional taxes. 

Visit colorado.gov/tax for information about state and state-collected sales taxes, due dates, rates, and instructions for which forms to complete, how to get a sales tax license and how to submit payments.

You can visit the following Department of Revenue pages for more information.

Instructions and forms:

Contacts:

Colorado Department of Revenue Call Center
Monday-Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
(303) 238-7378

COLORADO COTTAGE FOOD RESOURCES

CONTACT COLORADO COTTAGE FOOD INDUSTRY FOR MORE HELP

Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment
4300 Cherry Creek Drive South
Denver, CO 80246
(303) 692-3645, option #2
[email protected]

UPDATES TO COLORADO’S COTTAGE FOOD LAWS

From time to time, links, info, rules and numbers change, are updated or made obsolete.

Although I spend time daily with hundreds of vendors (many of which are cottage food businesses) – I can miss an update.

If you find a broken link, outdated information or any other issue… please let me know and I’ll send you a special gift for helping me maintain the best site on the internet for the cottage food industry.

My goal has always been to have a central place that is absolutely free those starting out or existing entrepreneurs who use their homes and kitchens to make real incomes.

Please send to [email protected] / or post inside the private VendorsUnited.com group.

Need more resources? Check it out HERE (Helpful Resources)

Take a peek at the best vendors on the planet, the community that rocks the food vending world: Vendors United

Vendors United - Cottage Food Laws

Disclaimer

This information is provided to help those interested in starting a cottage food business. It is not a document made by the state government. This information is not provided as law nor should be construed as law. Always use the contact information for each state to confirm compliance and any changes.

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