Texas Cottage Law Vendors

In addition to our note about Texas Farmer’s Markets, we want to include homemade food vendors. It’s wonderful that the State of Texas allows for homemade food to be sold to the public, but it’s only under certain conditions.
As much as we would love to have local homemade food vendors attend our markets, The Gypsy Rose Market does not meet these state requirements and will need all food vendors to have health permits, etc.
Here’s why and what you should look for when deciding to make a purchase from a homemade food vendor at local markets, online, etc.
The Texas Department of Health and Human Services/Texas Department of State Health Services oversees activities that affect our health and well-being. So naturally, they oversee homemade food vendors as well.
Cottage Food Production Operations – You can read the entire law here: www.dshs.texas.gov/foodestablishmen…
“During the 83rd Legislature, Regular Session 2013, the Texas Legislature enacted House Bill 970 that amends the Health and Safety Code (HSC), Chapter 437, by amending provisions for cottage food production operations. This law is effective September 1, 2013.”
Definitions
“A cottage food production operation is defined as an individual, operating out of the individual’s home, who:
  • Produces a baked good, candy, coated and uncoated nuts, unroasted nut butters, fruit butters, a canned jam or jelly, a fruit pie, dehydrated fruit or vegetables, including dried beans, popcorn and popcorn snacks, cereal, including granola, dry mix, vinegar, pickles, mustard, roasted coffee or dry tea, or a dried herb or dried herb mix.
  • Has an annual gross income of $50,000 or less from the sale of the described foods; and
  • Sells the foods produced directly to consumers at the individual’s home, a farmers’ market, a farm stand, or a municipal, county, or nonprofit fair, festival or event.
  • Delivers products to the consumer at the point of sale or another location designated by the consumer.”
Licensing
“A cottage food production operation is exempt from the requirements of a food service establishment and does not have to comply with the Texas Food Establishment Rules. Health departments do not have regulatory authority to conduct inspections of a cottage food production operation.
However, the Department or local health authority has authority to act to prevent an immediate and serious threat to human life or health through emergency order, recall orders and delegation of powers or duties. Health departments are required to maintain records of all complaints against a cottage food production operation.”
Requirements and Restrictions
An individual who operates a cottage food production operation must successfully complete a basic food safety education or training program for food handlers accredited under Health and Safety Code, Chapter 438(D) by January 1, 2014.
A cottage food production may not sell to customers potentially hazardous foods. A potentially hazardous food (PHF) is a food that requires time and temperature control for safety (TCS) to limit pathogen growth or toxin production. In other words, a food must be held under proper temperature controls, such as refrigeration to prevent the growth of bacteria that may cause human illness. A PHF/TCS is a food that: contains protein, moisture (water activity greater than 0.85), and is neutral to slightly acidic (pH between 4.6 -7.5).
Food produced by a cottage food production operation may not be sold via the Internet, by mail order or at wholesale. The Department of State Health Services is in the process of amending the rule, Section 229.661, concerning cottage food production operations.
Food Labeling
“Foods sold by a cottage food production operation must be packaged and labeled. The food must be packaged in a manner that prevents product contamination, except for foods that are too large and or bulky for conventional packaging. The labeling information for foods that are not packaged must be provided to the consumer on an invoice or receipt. The label must include:
  • The name and address of the cottage food production operation;
  • The common or usual name of the product, if a food is made with a major food allergen, such as eggs, nuts, soy, peanuts, milk or wheat that ingredient must be listed on the label; and
  • A statement: “This food is made in a home kitchen and is not inspected by the Department of State Health Services or a local health department.”
  • The labels must be legible.”
Our Quick Take from the Cottage Food Production Operation Laws: (Read the full FAQ section here: www.dshs.texas.gov/foodestablishmen…)
Where may a cottage food production operation sell products? A CFPO may sell products at
  • the individual’s home;
  • a farmers’ market;
  • a farm stand;
  • a municipal fair, festival or event;
  • a county fair, festival, or event; and
  • a nonprofit fair, festival, or event.
The Gypsy Rose Market is a FOR-PROFIT market that isn’t classified under any of the categories above. All of our food members need to have health permits prior to selling at our markets.
Can I use the Internet to sell my cottage food products? No. Food produced at a cottage food production operation cannot be sold through the Internet, by mail order or at wholesale.
If The Gypsy Rose Market or Market Coordinator has reached out to a prospective food vendor online, we believe these food vendors have or will obtain health permits.
Is there a process for submitting a complaint against a cottage food production operation? Yes. A complaint may be submitted to the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) for cottage food production operations located under DSHS jurisdiction at: http://www.dshs.state.tx.us/foodestablishments/complaints.aspx. If the cottage food production operation is located under the jurisdiction of a local health authority, that complaint must be registered with the local health authority.
Anyone is able to file complaints against food vendors with the state and local health departments. We don’t want to see anyone get in trouble, so we deny Texas Cottage Law vendors.
Will the Department be required to write rules concerning cottage food production operations in a separate chapter outside the Texas Food Establishment Rules? Yes. The department is in the process of amending the rule concerning the regulation of cottage food production operations to comply with the requirements of House Bill 970. Title 25 of the Texas Administrative Code, Section 229.661 provides definitions for cottage food production operations, labeling requirements, complaint database requirements, and sales location requirements.
Texas Laws do their best to keep up with current issues. These laws will update.
Conclusion:
We want to promote our community and be the best role models we can be as a market. We don’t want to see any vendor get in trouble. In the spirit of keeping local & small businesses thriving, we decline all Texas Cottage Food Operations vendors for our markets.

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