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.
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
- 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.
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 or with Form CR 0100 Sales Tax/Wage Withholding Account Application.
- File your Colorado Retail Sales Tax Return for free at colorado.gov/revenueonline or with form DR 0100: Colorado Retail Sales Tax Return with Deductions & Exemption Schedules. Watch videos about how to file on Revenue Online and how to use the paper form, and review tips to Avoid Common Sales Tax Filing Errors.
- Read instructions to find out if you need to only apply for 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.
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 at 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
- United States Small Business Administration.
- 2018 2nd Annual Cottage Foods Forum Presentation (PDF).
- Colorado Small Business Development Center.
- Colorado Small Business Administration.
- Arvada Economic Development Association.
- Aurora Business Development Center.
- Denver Metro Small Business Development Center.
- East Colorado Small Business Development Center.
- Larimer Small Business Development Center.
- San Luis Valley Small Business Development Center.
- Region 10 (Delta, Gunnison, Montrose, San Miguel, Ouray, Hinsdale).
- Rocky Mountain MicroFinance Institute.
- Southern Colorado Small Business Development Center.
- Western Small Business Development Center.
- BizBoost: Free Small Business Research Help from the Denver Library.
- Food Systems Colorado State University.
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 fruit and vegetable products that measure pH above 4.6. These elevated pH levels create the perfect environment for the harmful toxins to grow and to potentially expose your end consumer to foodborne botulism. The chance of this occurring can be minimized by having your pickled fruit and vegetables products tested.
If you choose to have your product tested, the results will validate your standardized, personal, or family recipe(s) and verify a finished equilibrium pH of 4.6 or below. Results will be mailed 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. Free pH testing for pickled fruit and vegetables made by cottage food producers is now being offered on a first-come, first-served basis:
- Pickled fruits
- Pickled vegetables
- Vinegar (fruit/vegetable)
What if I want to submit products for pH testing that are not listed above?
To request pH testing of other products at your own expense, visit the lab website for more information.
Participation will validate your standardized, personal, or family recipe(s) for pickled fruits and vegetables and verify a finished equilibrium pH of 4.6 or below. Pickled fruit and vegetable products not allowed to be sold under the Act will not be tested. A producer may submit up to five different products for free equilibrium pH testing. Results will be mailed 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.
Download 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 produce name).
- Chain of Custody:
- Relinquished by (provide the name of the person dropping off or shipping your sample).
- 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.
Drop off or ship your sample to:
Laboratory Services Division
8100 Lowry Blvd
Denver, CO 80230
- OR -
Take your sample to one of the free courier service pick-up locations near you: call the listed contact to confirm your drop off time and location.
At your own expense, you can submit your samples for pH testing to the Laboratory for a fee of $22.00 per sample. Contact the Laboratory Services Division for more information.
What type of buffer solutions do I need to use to calibrate my pH meter?
Follow the instructions in your pH meter user manual. Buffer solutions must be labeled as intended for use with food. This must be clearly stated on the solution specifications and or label. Buffer solutions that are solely “lab grade” are not sufficient to calibrate pH testing equipment that will be used to test food.
How long do pH testing buffer solutions last?
Buffer solutions are labeled with an expiration date and should not be used passed that date. Using expired buffer solutions can result in measurement errors.
The following documents provide examples and templates for labeling. You can find the Avery™ label template number in each document. For the template files, you need Microsoft Word™ 2007 or higher.