After home bakers organized on Facebook and went to the state capitol bearing tasty treats Thursday, a Colorado House committee gave its unanimous support to a cottage food bill.
If enacted, the bill would allow the sale of “nonpotentially hazardous” food from home kitchens.
Cottage food advocates handed out homemade cookies decorated with the Colorado state seal at the Economic and Business Development Committee’s public hearing on House Bill 12-1027.
Rep. Laura Bradford, R-Mesa, who introduced the bill, said people starting up businesses in their home kitchens should not be blocked by rules. She said she launched her own business from her kitchen table 27 years ago and could not imagine what would have happened to her startup had it been blocked by “some little rule.”
“They want the same opportunity,” she said of cottage cooks.
Committee members quickly dubbed the homemade offerings “Amendment 41” cookies, so lawmakers could avoid running afoul of Colorado’s recently enacted ban on gifts to public officials.
Bradford’s bill seeks to make the retail production of non-hazardous foods in home kitchens legal, with a minimum of regulation. The food items could then be sold on the property, from a roadside stand or, if registered, off premises.
Colorado law currently defines “nonpotentially hazardous” foods as any food or beverage that, when stored under normal conditions without refrigeration, will not support the rapid and progressive growth of microorganisms and cause food infections.
A cottage-foods business will be able to register for $100 or less, including registering in one county and making retail sales in other counties, according to the draft law. Counties that opt not to register such businesses won’t be able to prevent sales.
The bill was amended so residents in counties that opt out can register with the state.
The bill does erect one barrier. It prohibits homemade products that are “infused with medical marijuana.” Many of Colorado’s thriving medical marijuana outlets currently sell a wide variety of food products, but apparently those are prepared in commercial kitchens.
And Colorado’s proposed cottage-food law requires labeling: homemade food items must carry labels with the producer’s telephone number and electronic mailing address, along with a list of ingredients. Residences where retail homemade food is produced must be covered by home bakery liability insurance.
Legislative staff members provided the committee with a fiscal note, saying the cottage food bill would not cost state and local governments any money, and would allow local health officials to collect the $100 fee.