For enterprising Texas chefs who would love to start an informal, homestyle business out of their own kitchen, regulations governing these small businesses are fortunately not too much trouble to follow. Selling baked goods from home in Texas can go from an idyllic career dream to a reality. Retail establishments like restaurants must apply to the State Health and Human Services Department for a license to sell food in Texas, or else go through local channels for a Texas food manufacturer license after passing an inspection through the city or county. Even food trucks and pushcart vendors fall under the retail category under Texas law and need to get a license through a Texas food permit application. While selling food from home in Texas as an independently-run business seems like something you could do without government regulation, the few rules help keep both buyer and seller satisfied with transactions.
However, starting with the initial Texas Cottage Food Law in 2011, bakers can sell their creations from home in a way that keeps themselves and the customers protected. When selling food from home Texas bakers simply need to abide by a few guidelines about delivery logistics and food labeling format.
Do You Need a License to Sell Baked Goods From Home?
The Texas Cottage Food Law allows self-starter home chefs in Texas to sell certain foods that stay fresh and safe with no time and temperature control, i.e. no refrigeration necessary, without a food manufacturing license in Texas. While you do not need a permit to sell food from home, you do need to complete a food handler preparation course to educate home bakers on standards of safe food preparation and earn a Texas cottage food law certificate. Originally cottage food could only be sold from festivals, not online, but through recent Cottage Food Laws Texas updates the order can be placed online or by mail order as long as the product is delivered to the customer in person or vice versa. Annual income from your venture cannot exceed $50,000.
Can I Sell BBQ From My Home in Texas?
At first, bakers were limited to a specific Texas Cottage Food Law list that included baked goods requiring no temperature-controlled storage, jams and jellies, and dried herbs, and in 2013 candy, nuts, nut butters, fruit pies, dehydrated goods like popcorn, nonperishable pickled items, and coffee and tea were added to the list.
Texas cottage food law 2019 amendments expanded the list to any item that did not require time and temperature control for safety instead of just those on the list. Foods that cannot be sold from home are any type of meat, fermented fruit, fermented tofu, pickled eggs, kombucha or kefir or any fermented dairy product, and animal foods. This revision also added specifics on pickled, fermented, canned, and frozen fruits and vegetables and their labeling.
Do You Need a License To Sell Homegrown Vegetables in Texas?
Whole, uncut fresh vegetables that don’t require refrigeration fall under the cottage food category and can be sold without a license.
What Other Specific Foods Can Be Sold From Home?
Under the Texas Cottage Food Law, hot sauce and other homemade condiments can be sold as long as they do not require refrigeration. Selling homemade dog treats in Texas, on the other hand, is illegal even if they don’t need time and temperature-controlled storage because all animal foods must pass inspection from the Office of the Texas State Chemists, Texas Feed and Fertilizer Control Service.
Lemonade, along with juices and other beverages that need to be refrigerated, are not cottage foods and can’t be sold from home. Luckily for young restaurateurs-to-be, the law makes an exception for minors running lemonade stands in their own yards or city parks. Though eggs are not a cottage food, under Texas Department of Agriculture and DSHS regulations people can sell eggs from their privately-owned chickens directly to customers.
In selling pickled fruits and vegetables, use an approved pickling or canning recipe/procedure approved by the Texas Department of State Health Services or tested by a certified laboratory to be sure your product has a pH of 4.6 or lower. You can also test each batch with a pH meter.
Texas Cottage Food Law 2020 amendments allowed sellers to receive orders online or by mail order as long as the product is delivered to the customer in person. Sellers can now sell frozen fruits and vegetables as long as they were raw and uncut when originally frozen and they are delivered at or below 32C.
Do You Need a Permit To Sell Food on the Side of the Road?
Finally, the 2020 amendment enables sellers to sell cottage foods to customers anywhere with a food preparation course certificate instead of a license, as long as the transaction is directly from seller to buyer and it does not conflict with the location’s rules and ordinances.
Can I Sell BBQ on the Side of the Road?
Still no. Meat, even dried and nonperishable meat, does not fall into the cottage food category.
Logistics for Cottage Food Sellers: Accepted Labeling and Shipping
As of the 2020 changes to the Texas Cottage Food Law, shipping to a buyer’s home is fine if the purchasing transaction was made in person directly between seller and buyer. The item can also be bought online if the food is delivered in person from the seller to buyer. One of these parts of the sale must be made in person. Products cannot be shipped out of Texas.
Your products from the Texas cottage food law list must be safely packaged to prevent contamination and labeled. Cottage Food Law labels must list the home kitchen’s address, any possible allergens, and the fact that it is not inspected by any health department. If you want to give out free samples they must be individually packaged and labeled. Cutting a large item like a cake for sampling without individual packaging and labeling would require a permit.
All pickled or plant-based acidified canned goods must be labeled with batch number, date prepared, preparation recipe, and source of the recipe. Keep a record of these for each batch you create for a minimum of 12 months. For frozen fruits and vegetables, the label must include instructions to keep food frozen until use as well as the other required information.
Get started with a free Texas cottage food law label template here!
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