New Mexico cottage food laws and codes before 2021 were complicated and confusing.
However, as of July 1, 2021, a new law has made cottage food exempt from some of the most difficult requirements of the Food Service Sanitation Act and New Mexico Food Act. Follow the outline below and you can get started and enjoy the benefits of owning your own cottage food business.
NEW MEXICO UPDATES ITS CODES TO MAKE IT MUCH MUCH EASIER!!!
HB 177 is the newly signed “Homemade Food Act” that will open up the path for cottage food vendors, EVEN IN ALBUQUERQUE. As it reads, counties / cities can still require a license/permit but now the state permitting is gone and cottage food operators will be able to:
- sell directly to customers from home
- sell on the internet
- sell by phone
- ship products made within the state
- deliver by mail, in-person or home pickup
- sell at farmers’ markets, festivals, roadside stands
Table of Contents
HOW TO START YOUR COTTAGE FOOD BUSINESS IN NEW MEXICO – LICENSING
STEPS TO START
Always contact your local city / county office and verify if a business license is required prior to starting.
This is simply done by calling the main number to your city and letting them know you are starting a cottage food business and ask if you need a business license.
- Take the free training course FIRST
- Apply for a permit along with $100 fee
- Submit a Plan Review (a daunting task, but like eating an elephant… one bite at a time)
To save time completing the paperwork, collect this information before you start:
- List including every item you plan on making
- List all the ingredients used and their sources
- Describe procedure for cooling and heating of your ingredients and products
- Describe how you’ll keep your kitchen clean and sanitized
- List of when and where you’ll be selling products you’ve made
- Describe how your products will be preserved and transported for delivery
- Proof* that the water supply and/or sewer system meet requirements
- List of your cooking/baking equipment and drawing showing kitchen layout
- Describe how you’ll store your products, goods, ingredients
- Draw a map of your yard or area outside showing entrance, cooking area, etc…
- Outline of your operations in cooking / baking: (product name, ingredients, packaging, procedures, etc.)
- Proof you took free training (take free course here)
4. Home kitchen inspection
* If you are on a well and septic – inspections may be required
FIND AN ERROR – GET A SPECIAL GIFT
If you find an error, omission, mistake, broken link, any outdated information or an addition that we missed – simply email me at [email protected] a link to the page and any information and I’ll send you something awesome.
NEW MEXICO COTTAGE FOOD LAWS – Foods That Are Allowed
New Mexico doesn’t have an ALLOWED foods list on any of their cottage food laws or assets. They mention a few food items but not a real list of approved foods.
Below you’ll find a list of foods that are commonly referred to as NON TCS – Non -Temperature Control For Safety – which means the foods are shelf stable and do not require refrigeration.
The following are examples of products allowed to be made from your home. Keep in mind that some items, for example… breads like focaccia bread are not allowed.
Always check first: (see contact info below)
VERIFY ANY FOOD YOU PLAN TO MAKE… before applying and wasting your time submitting your ingredients and processes.
State Food Program Manager – (505) 222-9515
- Sweet breads
- Baked candy
- Cotton candy
- Coffee beans
- Dried fruit
- Dried vegetables
- Pasta noodles
- Spices & Seasonings
- Tea leaves
- Other Pastries
- Caramel corn
- Chocolate-covered items
- Crackers & Pretzels
- Fruit leathers
- Kettle corn
- Nuts & seeds
- Popcorn balls
- Jams & jellies and preserves that comply with the standard described in part 150 of Title 21 of the code of Federal Regulations: CLICK HERE
NOTE: Before selecting, always check first: State Food Program Manager – (505) 222-9515
Real Life Cottage Food Entrepreneurs and Opportunities
- Cakes – teacher turns kitchen into bakery
- Doughnuts – cottage mini donut vendor
- Fruit jams and jellies – See Additional Requirements Here
- Kettle corn – real kettle corn vendors from home
- Popcorn (plain and flavored) – see a real home vendor here
- Talk and Join hundreds of others here: VendorsUnited.com
NEW MEXICO COTTAGE FOOD LAWS – PROHIBITED FOODS
- Potentially hazardous foods
- Most refrigerated foods
More examples of Potentially Hazardous Foods:
- Meat (beef, pork, lamb)
- Poultry (chicken, turkey, duck) (Exception for home-raised poultry: check here for details)
- Fish – Shellfish and crustaceans
- Milk and dairy products
- Cooked, plant-based foods (e.g., cooked rice, beans, or vegetables)
- Baked potatoes
- Cut fruit
- Cut vegetables and leafy greens
- Raw sprouts
- Tofu and soy-protein foods
- Garlic/herb and oil mixtures
NOTE: Although eggs, milk and dairy products are not allowed, used as ingredients for the allowed foods – is acceptable.
Many prohibited foods that are baked or cooked into the allowed foods are rendered harmless (non-TCS) and therefore allowed.
NEW MEXICO ANNUAL SALES LIMITS
Most states set a cap on what you’re allowed to make annually.
This is usually put in place to push you towards opening a full-fledged retail business while at the same time letting you start from home.
New Mexico has NO annual sales limit for cottage food entrepreneurs.
Below is what the state of Colorado puts out to help folks wanting to go beyond cottage foods.
Colorado created a brochure on going beyond cottage food once you’ve outgrown or hit your maximum allowed income.
I have provided it here for a resource as you grow your business and wish to expand.
ACIDITY LEVELS AND TESTING
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.
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.
NEW MEXICO COTTAGE FOOD LAWS LABELING REQUIREMENTS
The basic information that must be on the label is as follows:
You are required to label your individually packaged products with the following information:
- Name, Address, Phone Number of the homestead food operation
- Name of the homestead food product
- The ingredients of the homestead product, in descending order by weight
- The name of each major food allergen contained in the food unless it is already part of the common or usual name of the respective ingredient already disclosed in the ingredient statement (see major food allergen list below)
- Your labels must state in 12 point font size:
COTTAGE FOOD LABEL EXAMPLE
Below is an example of what New Mexico 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
ALLERGENS ON LABELING
The FDA lists nine (9) major food allergens. Listing any of these on your label is a smart business practice and will certainly help your customers choose a product.
- Fish (e.g., bass, flounder, cod)
- Crustacean shellfish (e.g., crab, lobster, shrimp)
- Tree nuts (e.g., almonds, walnuts, pecans)
- Sesame seeds
Simply add to your label: “CONTAINS: SOYBEANS” 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.
FDA Allergen Labeling Example: Contains Wheat, Milk, Egg, and Soy
WHERE CAN I SELL MY COTTAGE FOOD PRODUCTS
New Mexico Cottage Food Laws – Sales Rules
All sales are restricted to:
- from your own residence
- from your own farm stand
- at a farmer’s market
- *online is possible as long as transaction is in person (no mail order or 3rd party delivery)
Inside kitchenincome.com you can find out how many cottage food entrepreneurs are getting sales faster than they can make the food.
FOOD HANDLER TRAINING AND BEST PRACTICES
New Mexico requires you take a food safety course. The approved course can be found here:
New Mexico Approved Food Safety Course
Many of our VendorsUnited.com members are proud to display their food safety certificates as a way to insure their customers that they care.
This helps your business. Below you can find a link to food safety courses that can be taken online and provide a certificate you can display and post in marketing.
- Short courses that provide food handling and safety certification
- Free info from the FDA – food safety
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
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.
NEW MEXICO COTTAGE FOOD LAWS IMPORTANT LINKS
- ***NEW LAWS MAKE IT EASIER – EFFECTIVE 7.1.21***
- Free Food Handler Producer Course
- NM Food Guide Regulations – Easy To Understand – Comprehensive
- Food Manufacturing Field Guide for New Mexico
- NM Food Service Sanitation Act
- NM Home Based Cottage Food Guidance
- Home Based Processing Plan Review Form
- Application for Permit to Operate
- New Mexico Food Program (Safety)
- New Mexico Food Act
NEW MEXICO COTTAGE FOOD CONTACT INFO
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH BUREAU
1190 St. Francis Dr, Suite S2100, Santa Fe, NM 87502 – (505) 476-3060 ph / 476-3232 fax
Food Program Manager – (505) 222-9515 ph
Albuquerque (505) 222-9500 Rio Rancho (505) 771-5980
Los Lunas (505) 841-5280 Tucumcari (575) 461-1671
Grants (505) 287-1346 Socorro (575) 835-1287
Gallup (505) 722-4160 Clovis (575) 762-3728
Santa Fe (505) 827-1840 Taos (575) 758-8808
Las Vegas (505) 454-2800 Española (505) 753-7256
Raton (575) 445-3621 Farmington (505) 566-9741
Alamogordo (575) 437-7115 Carlsbad (575) 885-9023
Deming (575) 546-1464 Las Cruces (575) 524-6300
Hobbs (575) 391-0464 Silver City (575) 388-1934
Roswell (575) 624-6046 Ruidoso (575) 258-3272
Need Help – Direct Contact At State Level:
Food Program Manager – (505) 222-9515
UPDATES TO NEW MEXICO 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 for those starting out or existing entrepreneurs who use their homes and kitchens to make real incomes.
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…
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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