Things keep getting better and better for homemade food producers in Texas. The state legalized the sale of nonperishable homemade foods in 2012 and loosened restrictions with amendments to the law in 2013 and 2019. Now, food entrepreneurs can sell homemade products almost anywhere, including to online buyers within state limits. Sales are prohibited at restaurants and retail outlets.
Texas cottage food types
Many states regulate “cottage food,” meaning food made in a home kitchen for sale. Texas cottage food producers may sell any non-potentially hazardous food, including breads, candies, dry goods, pastries, jams, jellies, and dried fruits and vegetables. Texas cottage food producers also may sell condiments, including vinegar and mustard, pickled fruits or vegetables, fermented vegetable products, plant-based canned goods, frozen whole fruits and vegetables, and whole eggs. All fermented, canned and pickled foods, as well as all fruit butters, are required to have a pH level of 4.6 or below.
Cottage food producers may not sell meat, poultry, fish or dairy, or low-acid canned goods. Changes to the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code in 2019 eliminated the need for special permits to use alcohol in confections, meaning that cottage food producers may now sell syrups, condiments, flavoring extracts and food products that contain alcohol. More information about the use of alcohol in cottage food can be found here…
Texas cottage food venues
Texas cottage food producers may sell cottage food directly to consumers in nearly any venue. This includes in-person venues like farmers’ markets or roadside stands, as well as online for pickup and delivery. However, Texas cottage food producers are prohibited from selling cottage food wholesale or through a third-party or retail establishment. Cottage food producers may only sell whole eggs at farmers’ markets. Additional regulations for selling whole eggs can be found here…
While local authorities are prohibited from regulating the manner of cottage food production and type of cottage foods produced, local authorities may regulate the venues in which any kind of product is sold, which includes cottage foods. For example, if a local jurisdiction prohibits roadside sales, then cottage foods may not be sold roadside.
Getting started in Texas
Texas cottage food producers are required to take an approved food handler training course before selling cottage foods. Texas cottage food business may not exceed $50,000 in sales per year, and all cottage food businesses must comply with local laws governing home occupations.
Texas cottage food labeling
Texas cottage food must be labeled with the name of the food, the address where the food was produced, the name of the home business where the food was produced, any allergens in the food, and the statement: “This food is made in a home kitchen and is not inspected by the Department of State Health Services or a local health department.” Any frozen foods must also be labeled with the statement: “SAFE HANDLING INSTRUCTIONS: To prevent illness from bacteria, keep this food frozen until preparing for consumption” in 12-point font or larger.
Texas pickled and fermented cottage food
Additional requirements apply to pickled or fermented foods in Texas. All fermented or pickled products must be labeled with a batch number in addition to other labeling requirements. Texas cottage food producers also must keep records for 12 months after the production of any pickled or fermented food that include the batch number, the date the batch was produced, the recipe used, and an indication of the acidity level of the food, which can be either an acidity test result or a recipe that indicates the food’s acidity level.
Texas lemonade stands
Children in Texas no longer have to worry about the police shutting down their lemonade stands. Under a Texas Lemonade Stand Law that passed with bipartisan support in 2019, minors under 18 can sell nonalcoholic beverages at “occasional” establishments without being prohibited or regulated by any municipality or local public health authority.
Texas 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 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.
Texas 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:
- Model Food Freedom Act from the Institute for Justice guides activism efforts at state capitols nationwide.
- Flour Power: How Cottage Food Entrepreneurs Are Using Their Home Kitchens to Become Their Own Bosses surveys 775 cottage food producers in 22 states about what their businesses mean to them.
- Ready to Roll highlights nine lessons from the Institute for Justice’s cottage food victory in Wisconsin.
- The Attack on Food Freedom examines the impact of regulations on farmers, chefs, artisans, restaurateurs, food truck operators and others.
Tell your Texas story
Is government violating your homemade food freedom in Texas? Do you have a potential case for IJ? Get started here…
Support Texas legislation
Help expand cottage food laws in Texas 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.