Cottage Foods Act

Jams, cupcakes, honey and breads

In 2012, the Colorado legislature enacted the Colorado Cottage Foods Act, allowing limited types of food products that are non-potentially hazardous (do not require refrigeration for safety) to be sold directly to consumers without licensing or inspections. An unofficial copy of the entire Act is available, with recent changes indicated with CAPITALIZED LETTERS.

  Unofficial copy of the Act


Printable resources | Recursos para imprimir


Eligible foods

What type of foods are eligible?
Foods that are non-potentially hazardous, or in other words, do not require refrigeration for safety. This includes:

  • Pickled fruits and vegetables with a finished equilibrium pH of 4.6 or below.
  • Dry spices.
  • Dry teas.
  • Dehydrated produce.
  • Nuts, seeds.
  • Honey, jams, jellies, preserves, fruit butter.
  • Flour, candies, fruit empanadas, tortillas and other similar products that do not require refrigeration for safety.
  • Up to 250 dozen whole eggs per month may also be sold.
  • Baked goods such as muffins, fruit pies, cookies, and cakes.
  • Roasted coffee beans.
  • Buttercream made with ghee or vegetable oil (buttercream made with butter is not allowed).
  • Canned fruits.
  • Candies such as cotton candy and fudge.
  • Freeze-dried produce.

To confirm if your product is eligible to be sold under the Act, you can contact us at cdphe_mfgfd@state.co.us.

Ineligible foods

What type of foods are ineligible?
Foods that are potentially hazardous, or in other words, they require refrigeration or some type of specialized process for safety. This includes: 

  • Any meat product such as bacon, jerky, chicharron, poultry, fish and shellfish products; these products are also prohibited from being used as ingredients or toppings.
  • Baked or fried goods having cream, custard or meringue fillings or toppings.
  • Cakes or pastries with buttercream (unless made with ghee or vegetable oil) frosting.
  • Sauces such as barbeque, hot, pasta, pizza , or salad dressing.
  • Beverages.
  • Condiments such as ketchup and mustard.
  • Pumpkin, sweet potato pie, and cream pies.
  • Cut fresh fruits and vegetables, fruit or vegetable juices or concentrates, fruit or vegetable purees.
  • Pepper jelly or jams made with fresh peppers or homemade dehydrated peppers.
  • Freeze dried meals containing meats.
  • Cannabidiol (CBD) and Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) containing products.

The Colorado Cottage Foods Act requires producers to complete a food safety training course prior to starting a cottage foods business. The following options are available to meet this requirement. Only one of the three options below must be completed. Trainees must remain in good standing with the course requirements including renewal of certificates of completion as required by the course developer.

Option 1

Complete Food Safety Training for Colorado Cottage Food Producers, offered by Colorado State University Extension. This is an in-person, classroom style training. Since 2014, 140 trainings have been implemented statewide. As a result, over 2,020 cottage food producers have received certificates of completion. Certificates are good for three years from the date of completion. 

Option 2

Obtain a Food Handlers Card. Producers can obtain a food handlers card by completing an online training course at State Food Safety.

Option 3

Attend a food safety training course offered by your local public health agency. Some agencies offer classroom style food safety training to restaurant operators and staff. Contact them to determine if cottage food producers can attend. 

Do Cottage Foods have to be packaged and labeled?
Yes. All Cottage Foods should be packaged and labeled with specific information including an exact disclaimer prior to selling them directly to the informed consumer.


Can Cottage Foods be labeled as "allergen­ free"?
No. All Cottage Food products must be labeled with a disclaimer stating that they were produced in a home kitchen without regulatory oversight and may also contain common allergens.

Can Cottage Foods be labeled as "organic"?
Cottage Foods labeled as "organic" have to be certified by a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) - National Organic Program accredited certification agency. A producer may list an ingredient as "organic" without obtaining certification as long as the term "organic" is not on the primary label.

Contact the Colorado Department of Agriculture, Plants Division for additional information.

There are restrictions on how and where you can sell your Cottage Foods product(s).

  • Product(s) must be delivered directly from producer to an informed end consumer and cannot be resold.
  • Product(s) cannot be sold to restaurants or grocery stores.
  • Product(s) may only be sold in Colorado. 
  • At the point of sale, clearly display a placard, sign or card with the following disclaimer: "This product was produced in a home kitchen that is not subject to state licensure or inspection. This product is not intended for resale."

What is a designated representative?
A designated representative, is a representative of the cottage food producer who is knowledgeable about the product and able to answer general consumer questions about the product.

What is an informed end consumer?
An informed consumer, is a consumer who has been provided with general product information including the product name, address where the food was prepared, current telephone number or email address of the producer, date the food was produced, ingredients, and a disclaimer that the food was prepared in a home kitchen not subject to licensure or inspection and that it may contain common food allergens. An end consumer is the person who purchases and consumes the product.

Can a producer sell their Cottage Foods product(s) at multiple locations and events, even if they occur on the same day and at the same time?
Yes. A producer or their designated representative can sell and deliver the product directly to an informed end consumer.

Can Cottage Foods be sold on the Internet?
Yes, internet sales are allowed.  The mechanism of direct product delivery can be determined between the producer and the informed end consumer as long as it does not involve interstate commerce.

Can I make my cottage foods for a catered event?
No. The Cottage Foods Act requires that product be sold by the producer or their designated representative directly to the informed end consumer. 
Can a retail food establishment (restaurant, mobile unit, grocery store, etc.) sell Cottage Foods?
No. Since these products are not from a licensed, inspected and regulated facility, they are not considered approved sources and therefore not allowed for sale in these types of establishments.

Can Cottage Foods be sold out of a store front or via consignment?
The law requires that Cottage Foods be sold directly to an informed end consumer from the producer or their designated representative. The store and its employees would need to function as the designated representative.

Net revenue allowance
If I produce muffins, does the Act allow me to earn up to $10,000 for each type (blueberry, banana, chocolate chip)?

We recommend seeking advice from a qualified accountant or tax professional.

Where can I find information about my Colorado tax obligations and business license requirements for my cottage foods business?

Your cottage food business is subject to income and sales tax, and in some locations you may need to get additional licenses or pay additional taxes.
You can visit the following Department of Revenue pages for more information.

Instructions and forms:

  • Register your new business at mybiz.colorado.gov.
  • File your Colorado Retail Sales Tax Return for free at colorado.gov/revenueonline.
  • Read the instructions to find out if you need to only apply for a Special Event Tax on the DR 0589 Sales Tax Special Event Application. If so, you will file the DR 0098 Special Event Tax Return.
  • Check tax rates, exemptions, and contact information for home-rule jurisdictions on the publication DR 1002 Colorado Sales/Use Tax Rates.


Colorado Department of Revenue Call Center.

Monday-Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. 303-238-7378.

Find a walk-in Taxpayer Service Center. Locations include Denver, Fort Collins, Colorado Springs, Pueblo, and Grand Junction.

Where can I find additional tax resources?

Applicable statutes can be found in Colorado Revised Statutes:
39-26-707.1 - Articles & Containers RE: Food Products
39-26-103(6) - Licenses - fee - revocation - definition
39-21-113 - Reports and Returns

Food safety is a core value that your friends, family, and valued customers expect from your products. One key indicator of validating your pickling process is knowing that your final pH is accurate and consistent, to measure the acidity of your finished product. Knowing this with certainty will give you and your customers peace of mind.

Although foodborne botulism is rare, it is commonly associated with homemade pickled products that measure pH above 4.6. These elevated pH levels create the perfect environment for harmful toxins to grow such as botulism. The chance of this occurring can be minimized by having your pickled fruit and vegetable products tested.

If you choose to have your product tested, the results will validate your standardized recipe(s) and verify a finished equilibrium pH of 4.6 or below. Results will be emailed directly to you and will confirm if your recipe is just right or prompt you to make adjustments to assure the safety of your product for your customers.

We currently offer free pH testing for Cottage Food producers who make the following products:

  • Chutney.
  • Kimchi.
  • Pickled fruits.
  • Pickled vegetables.
  • Pickles.
  • Relish.
  • Sauerkraut.
  • Vinegar (fruit/vegetable).

A producer may submit up to five different products for free equilibrium pH testing. Funding for free pH testing for pickled fruit and vegetables made by cottage food producers is limited and is being offered on a first-come, first-served basis.

What if I want to submit products for pH testing that are not listed above?

You may get products not listed under the Cottage Foods Act tested for a fee, visit the lab's general information page for more information.

Results will be emailed directly to you and will confirm if your recipe is appropriate or prompt you to make adjustments to assure the safety of your product.

How do I submit products for pH testing at the Colorado State Lab?

Email the chemistry lab at cdphe_chemistry@state.co.us or call the chemistry lab at 303-692-3048 to obtain a copy of the Request for Analytical Services form and complete the following sections:

  • Customer Information:
    • Complete all fields.
  • Specimen Information: 
    • Collected (provide the production date).
    • Time (provide the approximate time the product was finished).
    • Collected by (provide your name).
    • Comments (provide the product name).
  • Chain of Custody:
    • Relinquished by (provide the name of the person dropping off or shipping your sample).
    • Date/time.
  • Leave the following fields blank:
    • Sample site, water type, chlorine residual, water temperature, fluoride, and temperature at receipt.
  • For free cottage food testing please write in comments: Cottage Foods Testing bill DEHS per MOU.

Place the form in a sealable bag (like a Ziploc™ bag) and securely attach it to the sample. Each sample must have a separate request form attached.

Then drop off or ship your sample to:

Laboratory Services Division
8100 Lowry Blvd
Denver, CO 80230

Lab hours and directions.

The following document provides an example of labeling. You can find the Avery label template number in the document.



303-692-3645, option 2