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Buying or selling homemade foods this holiday season? Here’s what you need to know:

By Erica Miller,


ECTOR COUNTY, Texas (KMID/KPEJ)- As the holidays approach, you may start to see more people selling homemade food, such as tamales, cakes, jams, and pie. The Ector County Health Department said people need to be aware of “cottage laws” before they try to buy or sell homemade food.

Cottage laws are rules stating that you cannot sell temperature-controlled foods out of your own kitchen. Things like baked goods are not regulated by Cottage Laws.

“So as long as you follow cottage food rules, you are not regulated by the Health Department, the Health Department has no authority to require any permitting or inspection as long as you follow those rules,” said ECHD Director Brandy Garcia.

Garica stressed that the intended goal of the law is to ensure that consumers aren’t putting themselves at risk of potential food related illnesses.

So what foods are safe to sell, and buy?

Under the Cottage Law, these foods are allowed:

  • Baked goods that do not require refrigeration, such as cakes, cookies, breads, and pastries
  • Candy (including chocolate, chocolate-dipped pretzels, etc.)
  • Coated and uncoated nuts
  • Unroasted nut butters
  • Some Fruit butters
  • Canned jams and jellies
  • Fruit pies
  • Dehydrated fruits and vegetables, including dried beans
  • Popcorn and popcorn snacks
  • Cereal, including granola
  • Dry mixes
  • Vinegar
  • Mustard
  • Roasted coffee or dry tea
  • Dried herbs or herb mixes
  • Pickled fruits and vegetables, subject to some additional requirements
  • Acidified, plant-based canned foods, subject to some additional requirements
  • Fermented vegetables, subject to some additional requirements
  • Frozen raw and uncut fruits and vegetables, subject to some additional requirements
  • Any other non-Time and Temperature Controlled for Safety (non-TTCS) food

FRUIT BUTTERS: You will need to determine if your fruit butter is high-acid, low-acid, or acidified:

High-acid fruit butters may be sold by cottage food producers without additional requirements. These include apple, apricot, grape, peach, plum, quince, and prune butters.

Low-acid fruit butters may not be sold by cottage food producers. This would include pumpkin, banana, and pear butters.

Acidified fruit butters may be sold by cottage food producers if the final equilibrium pH is 4.6 or lower.

What about frozen fruits & vegetables?

Frozen fruits or vegetables that are raw and uncut are also allowed under the cottage food law. Two additional requirements apply: They must be stored and delivered at an air temperature of not more than 32 degrees Fahrenheit, and they must be labeled or accompanied by an invoice that includes the following statement in at least 12-point font: “SAFE HANDLING INSTRUCTIONS: To prevent illness from bacteria, keep this food frozen until preparing for consumption.”

Types of foods that CANNOT be sold under the Cottage Food Law

In addition to the foods that cannot be pickled or fermented to be sold under the Cottage Food Law, foods that are NOT allowed under the Cottage Food Law include:

  • Meat, poultry, or seafood products, including beef jerky. (Even though jerky is shelf-stable, the fact that it is a meat-based product means that it is subject to USDA regulations and cannot be within the state’s cottage food law.)
  • Tamales
  • Dairy products
  • Raw seed sprouts
  • Baked goods that require refrigeration, such as cheesecake, tres leches cake, pumpkin pie, and meringue pies
  • Beverages: juices, coffee, tea, etc. (Note that coffee beans and tea bags are allowed, just not the ready-to-serve beverages.)
  • Ice products
  • Any other food that needs time or temperature controls to prevent the growth of bacteria

To learn more about food safety under the Cottage Law, you’ll find more information here .

Copyright 2023 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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