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Selling Homemade Food in Colorado

All across the United States, Americans are making food at home to sell in their communities. Together, they form a small but growing industry—the homemade or “cottage food” industry. The movement fits within a larger trend toward healthy eating and responsible sourcing, as consumers take greater interest in where their food comes from and who makes it. Colorado has allowed cottage food sales since the passage of the Colorado Cottage Food Act in 2012. The law was amended in 2013, 2015 and 2016 to allow even greater freedom.

Colorado cottage food types

Many states regulate “cottage food,” meaning food made in home kitchens for sale. Colorado cottage food producers may sell foods that are “non-potentially hazardous and do not require refrigeration.” The law specifically allows for the sale of pickled fruits and vegetables, spices, teas, dehydrated produce, nuts, seeds, honey, jams, jellies, preserves, fruit butter, flour, and baked goods, including candies, fruit empanadas and tortillas. Colorado cottage food producers may sell up to 3,000 whole eggs per month.

Colorado cottage food venues

Colorado cottage food producers must sell their products directly to “informed end consumers” within the state. Direct sales may occur at farmers’ markets, roadside stands, festivals or at home. Colorado cottage food producers also may sell their products online with mail order or home delivery. Colorado does not allow third-party cottage food sales in retail outlets like restaurants and grocery stores. Despite the restriction, Colorado cottage food producers may assign a “designated representative” to sell on their behalf.

Getting started in Colorado

Colorado does not require a license or home inspection to sell cottage foods. However, Colorado cottage food producers must take a food safety course that is comparable to or given by the Colorado state university extension service or a state, county or district public health agency. Colorado caps annual gross revenue at $10,000 per product for cottage food producers.

Colorado cottage food labeling

Colorado cottage food producers must put an individual label on each product, clearly stating in English the product name, the producer’s name, the address where the food was produced, phone number and email address, production date, ingredients, and the following statement: “This product was produced in a home kitchen that is not subject to state licensure or inspection and that may also contain common food allergies such as tree nuts, peanuts, eggs, soy, wheat, milk, fish, and crustacean shellfish. This product is not intended for resale.”

Colorado cottage food facts

Myths about cottage food abound. Here are the facts:

  • Cottage food is safe. Critics who talk about the risk of food-borne illness give hypothetical examples of what could go wrong because real-world cases are rare or nonexistent.
  • Cottage food is local. When neighbors trade with neighbors, money stays in the local economy.
  • Cottage food is transparent. People who buy from a cottage food producer know what they get. If they have questions about ingredients, sourcing or safety, they can ask.
  • Cottage food creates jobs. Many homemade food producers use their income to provide for their families. Others seek a secondary or supplemental income.
  • Cottage food empowers women. IJ’s cottage food research shows that most cottage food producers are women, and many live in rural areas with limited economic opportunity.
  • Cottage food expands consumer choice. Some stores simply don’t sell what you want. This is especially true if you have a gluten-free, peanut-free, halal, kosher or vegan diet. Cottage food fills market gaps, giving consumers more options.

Colorado cottage food resources 

As part of its Food Freedom Initiative, the Institute for Justice provides a variety of resources for home bakers and other food entrepreneurs. These include: 

Tell your Colorado story

Is government violating your homemade food freedom in Colorado? Do you have a potential case for IJ? Get started here… 

Support Colorado legislation

Help expand cottage food laws in Colorado by teaming with the Institute for Justice. Send an email with your name, background information and availability to get started… 

Defending homemade food freedom nationwide 

People have a right to earn an honest living without arbitrary and excessive government interference. Since 2013, the Institute for Justice has defended home bakers and chefs as part of its Food Freedom Initiative. Read about IJ’s nationwide food freedom advocacy…

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All information, content, and materials available on this site are for general informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Statutes, regulations, and processes are subject to change at any time, and specific facts and circumstances could alter how they are applied. If you have questions about the regulation of cottage foods in your jurisdiction, we recommend consulting a lawyer who can help you navigate the process. 

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