Have you been intrigued by the urban homesteader trend taking over the metro area? Maybe you bought a few backyard chickens… that led to composting, which led to a nice a little productive garden. And now you have more eggs and vegetables than you can eat. If you’re considering selling your harvest, it might not be a bad idea. Here’s what you need to know about Colorado’s Cottage Food Laws.
What is the Cottage Food Law?
According to the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment (CDPHE), “The Cottage Foods Act allows limited types of food products that are non-potentially hazardous (do not require refrigeration) to be sold directly to consumers without licensing or inspection.”
This means you don’t need a license to sell certain goods and your foods are not inspected by the state or local government. Your proceeds must not exceed five thousand dollars a year. You cannot sell your goods at a consignment or retail food or wholesale food establishments. (Division of Environmental Health & Sustainability)
So, what can you sell?
- Dehydrated produce
- Jams and jellies
- Baked goods
- Eggs (more on this soon)
What if someone complains?
You might be nervous to sell your delicious goods. What if someone has a complaint? How would you handle that?
The CDPHE can investigate complaints. If this happens to you, you’ll need to allow them to conduct an inspection. They’ll be looking to see if you are following the rules and regulations under the Cottage Food Law. If you’re selling something that is not allowed under the law, they have the authority to embargo that product. Foods not allowed include:
- Raw seed sprouts
- Milk/dairy products
- Focaccia-style breads with vegetables or cheeses
- Canned goods
- Baked goods that have fillings, such as custards or meringue pies
- Some condiments such as barbecue sauces, ketchup or mustards
Make sure you check the laws to know what you can and can’t sell. You can always call CDPHE if you’re unsure.
About Those Eggs
Here’s what you need to know about selling your eggs. The law states that you may not sell more than 250 dozen a month. That’s a lot of eggs, and highly unlikely on an urban property that you would have enough chickens to produce that amount of eggs. You can sell directly from your house, the roadside, a local Farmers’ Market or similar venue.
Eggs and other food products must be labeled. Your label must include your address and date of packaging. Most likely, your eggs will not have been treated for salmonella (which in most cases is fine). You’ll need to include the following statement that you’ve probably seen repeatedly over your lifetime “Safe Handling Instructions: To prevent illness from bacteria, keep eggs refrigerated, cook eggs until yolks are firm, and cook any foods containing eggs thoroughly.” Finally, you’ll need to include the message “These eggs do not come from a government approved source.”
The last thing you need to know is that you are required to take a food safety course. You can contact your local public health agency to see who offers this training in your area.
Now that you’re equipped with this knowledge, go out and sell your goods to your friends and neighbors. After all, this what our communities used to do in the good ole’ days!