Fall is in the air, which means the holiday baking season is right around the corner. Thanks to much-needed changes in how Texas regulates the sale of food prepared in home kitchens, those homemade pecan pies and red velvet cakes may be easier to come by than you expected. In this article we’ll discuss some important changes in Texas law in recent years, which will hopefully point you in the right direction if you’re thinking about starting your own home-based consumer foods business.
Home-based entrepreneurs are stirring up some serious cash
The cottage baking industry has erupted in Texas. A recent Institute for Justice report published by Forbes online estimates more than a thousand home-based producers of baked goods and other food items have started up over the last year. A special license or permit is not generally required to start a cottage food business in Texas, as long as you have taken and passed an approved course to be a certified food handler.
How hard is it to become a certified food handler?
The Texas Department of State Health Services’ website has a list of accredited training programs on their website, including a slew of online certificate programs. There is, of course, a list of classroom training programs if you prefer to learn in person. The training sessions range in length and price, but a certificate can be yours in about half a day for less than $20.
What restrictions are there?
Texas restricts your market to direct sales to consumers only, but this can be done from your home, farmer’s market, farm stand, or a municipal, county, or nonprofit fair, festival, or event.
Texas also restricts your product line-up to foods that are considered non-potentially hazardous. Meats and shellfish, for example, are potentially hazardous and, therefore, off limits.
So, what kinds of foods can I sell?
The most recent update to Texas’ cottage food laws expanded the list of allowable foods, so the list now includes:
- Baked goods which do not require refrigeration
- Coated and uncoated nuts
- Unroasted nut butters
- Canned jams and jellies
- Fruit butters
- Dehydrated fruits and vegetables
- Dry mix
- Roasted coffee
- Dry tea
Of course, all foods you produce must be reasonably packaged to prevent product contamination. The Texas Cottage Food Law website, though not a state-run website, has a plethora of information and answers to frequently asked questions for home-based, cottage food entrepreneurs. There is also a comprehensive review of cottage food laws throughout the United States available here, courtesy of the Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic.
Don’t skimp on legal advice
We’d be remiss if we didn’t point out that, despite all the information available on the web, there is no substitute for personal legal advice provided by an experienced business law attorney with knowledge of your specific facts, circumstances and goals. Contact one of our experienced Bryan-College Station, Texas business law attorneys at Peterson Law Group to make an appointment at 979-703-7014 or fill out our online contact form. We look forward to helping make your business dreams a reality.