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Idaho defines cottage foods; food safety unaddressed

Written by  Feb 01, 2016

Idaho activists have won their fight to “unchain the cupcake” gaining approval from two state legislative committees that agreed this month to define cottage foods and require such home cookin’ to be labeled when offered for sale.

The OK from the Health and Welfare Committees in the Idaho House of Representatives and Senate keeps homemade baked goods and certain other foods sold by cooks directly to consumers outside the realm of many food safety regulations and inspections.

Freedom from the burdens of what some cottage food advocates have described as over regulation got a boost in 2015 when officials with the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare argued in favor of rules and against a bill that would have created state law governing cottage foods. That bill was withdrawn.

The new definitions and the requirements for labels and no-cost licensing mark “a great success for small to medium-sized home-based businesses, rural communities, farmers markets and consumers,” according to the Idaho Organization of Resource Councils (IORC).

“Cottage food producers are now allowed to produce certain foods from home kitchens and sell directly to consumers. The foods allowed under the rule pose very low risk for foodborne illnesses, and can be safely produced outside of commercial kitchens,” the IORC leadership said in a news release. 

Having gained popularity as locavores’ lust for local food has grown, cottage foods are spawning an up and coming class of entrepreneurs, according to the IORC.

Julia Page, chairwoman of the IORC board, said the news release the new rules will take cottage food producers out of legal limbo and ensure their equal treatment by health districts across Idaho

“These rules … will help our members avoid the delays, uncertainty and cost they have experienced in the past,” Page said when the legislators were considering the matter. “(They) will unlock entrepreneurship and vitality across the state, by making this homegrown, small-scale business model available all over Idaho.”

The new rule requires producers to submit an application that is available online that discloses what kind of cottage foods they produce. They must also include a label on their product that says it was prepared in a home kitchen not subject to state inspection and that it may contain allergens.

Cottage foods covered by the rule include, but are not limited to, baked goods, fruit jams and jellies, fruit pies, breads, cakes, pastries, cookies, dried fruits, dry herbs and seasonings.

Last modified on Wednesday, 03 February 2016 12:57