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Residential Kitchens: Cottage Food Operations

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About Residential Kitchens: Cottage Food Operations

Massachusetts State Code on Residential Kitchens is as follows:
“Residential Kitchens: Retail Sale.
(a) A food establishment permit shall be required if food is prepared in or distributed
from a residential kitchen for retail sale except as exempted under the definition of food
establishment in 105 CMR 590.002 and shall comply with the minimum requirements of
105 CMR 590.009(D) as well as the Administration and Enforcement (105 CMR 590.010
through 590.021), except they shall be exempt from 105 CMR 590.043, “Plan
Submission and Approval” in which case only an intended list of food to be prepared or
distributed shall be submitted to the board of health with their application for permit. In
addition, the following requirements shall be met:
(b) Food Preparation and Protection: Residential Kitchen for Retail Sale.
1. Only non-potentially hazardous foods and foods which do not require
refrigeration and a variance in accordance with 105 CMR 590.010(H) shall be
prepared in or distributed from a residential kitchen for retail sale to the public
except as exempted under the definition of food establishment in 105 CMR
590.002. Ingredients that are potentially hazardous foods, such as milk, cream,
and eggs, may be used in food preparation for the public provided that the final
product is not a potentially hazardous food.
2. Wholesale operations requiring a food processor registration by the
Department shall not be conducted in an establishment holding a residential
kitchen permit.
3. Only immediate family members residing in the household may prepare food
for retail sale in a residential kitchen.”

Below is a link to the 105 CMR 590: State Sanitary Code for Food Establishments in full for reference.

Always be sure to check with your local board of health regarding local requirements and permitting for cottage food operations. Cottage food operations cannot sell or serve food unless it has obtained a permit from the board of health.

Cottage foods are non-potentially hazardous foods that do not require time temperature control for safety prepared in a Cottage Food Operation. A Cottage Food Operation is defined by the Association of Food and Drug Officials (AFDO) as: a person who produces cottage food products only in the home kitchen of that person’s primary domestic residence and only for sale directly to the consumer. A Cottage food operation shall not operate as a food service establishment, retail food store, or wholesale food manufacturer. The following is a list from AFDO of examples of foods allowed and foods prohibited from cottage food operations.

Approved food items:
• Loaf breads, rolls, biscuits
• Cakes including celebration cakes (birthday, anniversary, wedding)
• Pastries and cookies
• Candies and confections
• Fruit pies
• Jams, jellies and preserves
• Dried fruits
• Dry herbs, seasonings and mixtures
• Cereals, trail mixes and granola
• Coated or uncoated nuts
• Vinegar and flavored vinegars
• Popcorn, popcorn balls, cotton candy

Unapproved food items:
• Fresh or dried meat or meat products including jerky
• Fresh or dried poultry or poultry products
• Canned fruits, vegetables, vegetable butters, salsas etc.
• Fish or shellfish products
• Canned pickled products such as corn relish, pickles, sauerkraut
• Raw seed sprouts
• Bakery goods which require any type of refrigeration such as cream, custard or meringue pies and cakes or pastries with cream cheese icings or fillings
• Tempered and/or molded chocolate or chocolate type products
• Milk and dairy products including hard, soft and cottage cheeses and yogurt
• Cut fresh fruits and/or vegetables
• Food products made from cut fresh fruits or vegetables
• Food products made with cooked vegetable products
• Garlic in oil mixtures
• Juices made from fresh fruits or vegetables
• Ice and/or ice products
• Barbeque sauces, ketchups and/or mustards
• Focaccia-style breads with vegetables and/or cheese

Requirements for cottage food establishments outlined in the guidance document by AFDO:
1. All cottage food operations must be permitted annually by the regulatory authority on forms developed by that authority. The permit will identify a specific listing of the food products allowed to be produced by the cottage food operation.
2. Prior to permitting, the regulatory authority will examine the premises of the cottage food operation to determine it to be in substantial compliance with the requirements of this guidance document.
3. All cottage food operations permitted under this section must include a signed documents attesting, by opting to become permitted, that the permitted cottage food operation expressly grants to the regulatory authority the right to end the domestic residence housing the cottage food operations during normal business hours, or at other reasonable times, for the purposed of inspection including the collection of food samples.
4. A cottage food operation must comply with all applicable county and municipal laws and zoning ordinances that apply to conducting a business from one’s home residence prior to permitting as a cottage food operation. Where required, the cottage food operation will provide written verification from a credible recognized source of the adequacy of their on-site wastewater system.
5. Any cottage food operation which has a private water supply must have the supply tested prior to permitting and at least annually thereafter and demonstrate through a written record of testing that the water supply is potable. The regulatory authority may require more frequent testing as deemed necessary.
6. Prior to permitting, the cottage food operation shall have attended and successfully completed a food safety training program that includes training in food processing and packaging, and that is recognized by the regulatory agency.

Additional Resources on Cottage Foods:
Association of Food and Drug Officials: Cottage Foods
Frequently Asked Questions on Cottage Foods
Massachusetts State Food Code: 105 CMR 590