Oversight of the cottage foods industry remains a mixed bag across the country with differences ranging from what can be sold and where, to if ingredient labels are required, whether the home kitchen should be licensed or inspected, and whether or not the cottage food producer needs any training in safe food handling and processing.
Benjamin Chapman, PhD, associate professor and food safety extension specialist at North Carolina State University, says that a recent troubling trend is the increasing use of Facebook as a “food sales vehicle,” where items for sale have included ham and cheese dishes, tamales cooked in a garage, cheesecake, and lumpia.
Food safety concerns for this industry should not be any different than for the rest of the food industry, he says. “Food businesses, whether they are cottage food producers or multinationals, need to know the hazards associated with all their products, how to reduce the risk of the hazard, and then actually do it every day,” says Dr. Chapman, who blogs about “safe food from farm to fork” on www.barfblog.com.
Some states offer cottage food law and food safety training courses for those in the cottage foods industry. A program offered in Michigan reminds cottage foods producers that even though they do not need a state license or inspection, they are responsible for safe products.
The Association of Food and Drug Officials (AFDO) outlines the best food safety practices for the industry, including name and address labels of the cottage food operation, lists of ingredients and potential allergens, and a notice specifying that the food was made in a cottage food operation that is not subject to routine government food safety inspection. A cottage food producer should be subject to an inspection in the case of food safety concerns, according to AFDO.
AFDO defines cottage food as made in a home kitchen of a person’s primary domestic residence and a product that is only for sale directly to the consumer. The organization’s list of allowable cottage foods includes those that do not require temperature control for safety. Acidified foods, low-acid canned foods, garlic in oil, and fresh fruit and vegetables, such as raw seed sprouts or juices, should not be permitted as cottage foods, AFDO says.| | | Next → | Single Page
About Kathy Holliman
Kathy Holliman, MEd, has been a medical writer and editor since 1997. She has worked on several publications focused on infectious diseases, cardiology, endocrinology, oncology/hematology, orthopedics, psychiatry, and pediatrics. Since becoming a freelance writer and editor in 2006, she has contributed to several healthcare publications in the fields of rheumatology, food quality and safety, internal medicine, and other medical association publications and medical education courses. Kathy has attended well over 100 medical meetings in the U.S. and Europe, and she continues to work as a writer and editor for onsite publications at several of those meetings. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.