Cooking Up Profits: Do You Know Your Home-Based Food Regulations?

4. December 2013 08:16

Hands knead dough.

The locally-sourced food craze doesn’t seem to be diminishing, and as a result, home-based food entrepreneurs are feeling the love. According to a new food study, consumers are still hungry for organic and locally-grown foods, with 90 percent saying “fresh” food is very or somewhat important, 79 percent wanting to buy more locally-sourced food, and 53 percent willing to pay more for it.

While the FDA recently updated its Food Code regulations for restaurants, most home-based food regulations come from state and local governments (using FDA food codes as guidelines). Not all cities allow home kitchens to produce food made for commercial purposes, but the times are changing. For example, the California Homemade Food Act went into effect January 1, 2013 and made it possible for home-based entrepreneurs to produce “low-risk foods” such as baked goods, dried mixes and some sauces as long as they comply with regulations and make an annual profit of no more than $45,000 in 2014.

To run a home-based food business, you will need to learn the laws in your city and state that govern food preparation, food safety, product packaging and labeling. Some common regulations for home-based or “cottage” food operations include:

  • No cottage food preparation, packaging or handling may occur in the home kitchen concurrent with any other domestic activities, such as family meal preparation, dishwashing, clothes washing or ironing, kitchen cleaning, or guest entertainment.
  • No infants, small children or pets may be in the home kitchen during the preparation, packaging, or handling of any cottage food products.
  • Kitchen equipment and utensils used to produce cottage food products shall be clean and maintained in a good state of repair.
  • All food contact surfaces, equipment, and utensils used for the preparation, packaging, or handling of any cottage food products shall be washed, rinsed and sanitized before each use.
  • All food preparation and food and equipment storage areas shall be maintained free of rodents and insects.
  • Smoking shall be prohibited in the portion of a private home used for the preparation, packaging, storage, or handling of cottage food products and related ingredients or equipment, or both, while cottage food products are being prepared, packaged, stored, or handled.

To find out the required regulations in your state, check with the state department that regulates commercial food production activities, such as the state Department of Public Health or the Food and Drug Protection Division. If you plan to produce a food product to be shipped across state lines, then you will need to check with the FDA and Department of Agriculture.

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at [email protected], follow her on Google+   and Twitter.com/Rieva and visit her website, SmallBizDaily.com, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports.

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