Like something baked in a home kitchen, Colorado’s cottage foods bill has ended up far more puffed up than when it started.


The cottage foods bill now awaiting Gov. John Hickenlooper’s signature gathered some amendments as it went through the legislative process at the Colorado statehouse. It ended up doing several things, including:

– Exempting from licensing anyone selling fewer than 3,000 eggs per month through farmer’s markets.

– Exempting local farmers and small scale producers from the need to obtain a retail food establishment license.

– Exempting home kitchens from food inspections, so long as sales are made directly to consumers and not through retail grocery stores or restaurants.   

– Allowing the use of commercial, private or public kitchens if the same limit on sales that applies to home kitchens is followed.

– Exempting from most all criminal and civil liability schools and nonprofit organizations that loan out their kitchens (unless an injury or death results from an act of omission involving gross negligence or intentional misconduct).  

– Exempting nonprofit organizations (such as food banks) from liability for injuries or death caused by donated food.

If the bill is signed into law, Colorado will join 18 other states in recently adopting cottage food legislation. The common characteristic for these measures is exempting home-produced foods from licensing and public health inspection.  Most of the new laws are limited to non-hazadous foods and tilt toward baked goods.

Other common themes are promoting farmer’s markets and making it easier for people to launch a food business, especially during the difficult economic climate that has existed since 2008.

Colorado’s cottage food law includes language that offers some certainty about handing out exemptions without negatively impacting food safety.  “Producers selling products locally from home kitchens will have sufficient incentives to be accountable to consumers and provide safe, locally-sourced foods,” says the legislative declaration.

Colorado’s lawmakers also view the cottage food bill as being supportive of both economic development and agri-tourism.

The Colorado Legislature remains in session until May 9.

  • Tom M.

    The last two items exempting schools and nonprofits from liability when people get sick or possibly die is prescient. These people understand fully what is certainly going to happen and wisely are writing their own immunity into the bill. Indulge activists’ fantasies while reserving wisdom for yourself. Isn’t that politics at its finest!

  • I’m glad to see that states are starting to adopt these cottage food bills. I’m waiting to see what California does on their bill.

  • This should not have passed. There is no way to track any of the sales so the sales tax will not be paid on most of this. There are too many “Home” bakers that do not understand, or have the ability to follow proper food handling. They should have to be licensed, insured, and inspected just like all of us that have overhead.

    • When it comes to paying taxes we are all on the honor system, aren’t we? Do you think brick and mortar businesses can’t cook their books?  True food handling and food safety is important but lets not forget the FDA allows 800 ppm of bug parts in our food; animals are raised in unhealthy conditions and fed un-natural foods that make them sick, but pass inspection every day. Do you think Suzy Homemaker can’t get sued if her brownies make some one sick? She can have liability insurance but it is not require. There are home kitchens all over the country that are cleaner than most fast food joints and they don’t have hand washing police either. Lighten up, let the free market work and the consumers can vote with their money.

  • MissB

    There are pros and cons. I had my own cookie and cake business a few years ago and had to quit because I couldn’t afford the rent on the commercial kitchen any more. As someone who knows all of the guidelines, proprer food handeling, and how to pay taxes for my business I am very excited to see it passes so I can get back to what I love to do. BUT also as someone who has intact been in the business I have seen my fair share of scary “home” bakers selling stuff under the table. It drives me nuts! I do feel better knowing we will have to not only list all of our ingredients but that we have to also provide our name, number and location on every single product we sell. That will make it easy to track down any improper food handeling. I guess we will have to wait and see what happens in may!

  • DJ788

    If you do more research, anyone operating under the Cottage Foods Act IS required to take a certified course in food safety, handling, etc. I just completed mine today.
    Also, if a complaint is filed against a producer, they will be subject to inspections of their kitchen, products, etc.