Colorado Senate Bill 12-048 -- which was passed in 2012 and has been amended several times -- allows Colorado cooks to whip up many types of foods in their home kitchens and sell them directly to consumers. The process for doing so is not complicated and no licenses are needed. A food safety course is required, however, and state rules govern the types of foods that may be made in home kitchens, how they can be sold and the amount of money home bakers and cooks may earn.
Laws like Senate Bill 12-048 in Colorado, and similar laws in other states, often are called Cottage Food Laws.
Only items that will not spoil may be made in home kitchens and sold elsewhere. This means that some types of food in a category are allowed, while others are not. Examples of foods that may be prepared in home kitchens and sold to the public are:
- sweet breads
- cakes and cupcakes
- fruit pies
- candy, chocolate, fudge
- crackers, pretzels
- dried fruits
- permitted foods that are chocolate covered
Exceptions to these are any items that need refrigeration to avoid spoilage. So most breads are okay, but not focaccia and other breads topped with vegetables and cheese. Zucchini bread and carrot cake are fine, because the vegetables are grated and baked inside and do not require refrigeration. Fruit pies are allowed as long as they aren't topped with meringue, whipped cream or other perishables. Cream pies -- from pumpkin to banana cream -- are out, and cakes must have non-perishable frosting.
Food Safety Course
Colorado does not require home cooks and bakers to get a food license or kitchen inspection. However, the state does require business owners to take and pass a food safety course. The course can be one offered by the Colorado State University Extension Office or through a local department of health. Topics covered must include safe handling of foods, sanitation of equipment, food temperature control, safe food and water sources, personal hygiene, hand washing, pest control, sewage disposal, and control of toxic substances.
Colorado does not require licensure or inspections to open a home kitchen business. However, if a complaint is lodged against a home kitchen, a public health employee will inspect the operation for its adherence to the Cottage Food Law's rules.
Caps on Earnings
There are limits to how much money a home kitchen operator can make. Colorado's limits are more generous than most states, however, because their dollar limits are per product, not in total. The limit has been $5,000 per product since the law was passed, but it was increased to $10,000 per product effective Aug. 5, 2015.
Cottage food producers in Colorado must sell their products directly to consumers. They may deliver the products or have customers pick them up; sell them at farmer's markets or a roadside stand. They may not sell to restaurants or stores.
Each product must be labeled to include the producer's name, address, and phone number or email address. It also must include this statement:
"This product was produced in a home kitchen that is not subject to state licensure or inspection and that may also process common food allergens such as tree nuts, peanuts, eggs, soy, wheat, milk, fish and crustacean shellfish. This product is not intended for resale."