If you started or are considering starting a business during the pandemic, you’re not alone. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Americans filed paperwork to start 4.3 million businesses last year. And while many with culinary skills invested in restaurants or food trucks, a large number of them began producing and packaging food items from their homes under the Texas Cottage Food Law which allows individuals to prepare and sell homemade food items with some restrictions.

“While a cottage food production operation does not have to comply with regular Texas Food Establishment Rules,” said Mechele Agbayani Mills, President and CEO of BBB Serving Central East Texas. “There are a few requirements in place to help prevent contamination and food-borne illnesses.”

BBB reminds those who are or are considering operating a home-operated food production business of the following:

Make sure your product qualifies. The law covers numerous items such as some baked goods, candy, nuts, canned jams or jellies; fruit pies; dehydrated or pickled fruit or vegetables, roasted coffee, and herbs, which are produced in the individual’s home. The Texas Department of Health and Human Services provides a detailed list of covered items and other requirements.

Make sure products are properly labeled. Proper packaging and labeling to prevent contamination is required. The label must be legible and must include the name and address of the cottage food production operation, the common name of the product, if the food contains an allergen such as eggs, nuts, soy, and/or wheat. Labels must also include the following 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”.

Get certified. Obtaining a Texas Food Handler’s Certification from an accredited program is required if you are selling food prepared in your home. Classes are available in-person and online. You’ll learn about food safety and how to keep your customers safe at a minimal cost.

Don’t mail it. While orders may be taken online, products must be personally delivered to the customer or handed to them at point of sale, (i.e., farmer’s market). Shipping ordered products via mail or at wholesale requires additional permits, so is not currently allowed under the Texas Cottage Food Law.

For more information on the Texas Cottage Food Law requirements and restrictions and for a list of other frequently asked questions, go to the Texas Department of Health and Human Services.

For more tips on how to be a savvy business owner, go to bbb.org. To report fraudulent activity or unscrupulous business practices, call BBB at 903-581-5704 or report it via BBB ScamTracker.

 
 

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BBB is a nonprofit, business-supported organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. Most BBB services to consumers are free of charge. BBB provides objective advice, free BBB Business Profiles on more than 5.3 million companies, 11,000 charity reviews, dispute resolution services, alerts and educational information on topics affecting marketplace trust. Visit bbb.org for more information. BBB Serving Central East Texas was founded in 1985 and serves 19 counties in East Texas.