The Massachusetts “cottage food law” is out-of-date and needs to be updated, according to some.

The Bay State was one of the first states to allow the sale of cottage foods, meaning low-risk homemade food products.  Its current cottage food law was adopted in 2000.

In the 21 years since some lawmakers say the state has fallen behind. Some states require cities and towns to develop their own regulations and permit licensing.

Rep. Erika Uyterhoeven, D-Somerville,  says hundreds of the state cities and towns have not created a permit system for cottage foods. She is offering H-465 to make cottage food competitive again.

Here are some of the provisions of Uyterhoeven’s bill

  • Cottage food operation is a person who produces cottage food products only in the home kitchen of that person’s primary domestic residence and only for direct retail sale to the consumer.
  • A cottage food operation is not to be deemed a retail food establishment by the Department of Public Health.
  • Cottage food product is a non-time/temperature control for food safety food produced at a cottage food operation.

Cottage food products include but are not limited to;

  • jams, uncut fruits and vegetables, pickled vegetables, and hard candies,
  • fudge, nut mixes, granola, dry soup mixes, and excluding meat-based soup mixes, dried fruit, and fruit empanadas,
  • fruit tamales, coffee beans, popcorn, and baked goods that do not include dairy or meat frosting or filling
  • or other potentially hazardous frosting or filling, such as bread, biscuits, cookies, churros, pastries, and tortillas.

“Direct retail sale to the consumer” means a transaction within the State between a cottage food operation and a consumer.  Such direct sales include, but are not limited to, transactions:

  • at farm stands, farmers’ markets, community-supported agriculture subscriptions; 
  • at holiday bazaars, bake sales, food swaps, other temporary events, or other charitable functions; 
  • over the telephone or online,
  • Cottage food must be delivered in person by the producer to the consumer.

All 50 states permit cottage food sales. The FoodLaw and Policy Clinic at Harvard reports 55 bills were introduced to loosen Cottage Food Laws

The bill also says that  The Department of Public Health “shall establish and maintain an electronic cottage food operation registry within six months of enactment of this law. This registration system shall be voluntary for cottage food operations, shall be used solely for the purpose of collecting general information about cottage food operations in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and shall not impose a fee on cottage food operations, nor impose any further restrictions outside of those in this section/”

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