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.