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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.