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Cottage Foods: Benefits and Concerns

An economic and food-safety analysis of homemade food sales

Cottage Foods: Benefits and Concerns

Aurora Saulo (Tropical Plant and Soil Sciences) recently published a column entitled “Are More Regulations Needed for Cottage Foods as Farmers Markets Grow in Popularity?” in the Food Quality and Safety newsletter. She defines “cottage foods” as prepared foods made in home kitchens or places other than regulated commercial establishments.

The article describes the regulations governing the sale of such foods in different states in the US and various countries internationally. It shows that although cottage foods are an important element in farmer’s markets and other local sales opportunities, helping both growers and local economies, it’s important to make sure that they are appropriately regulated so they do not lead to cases of food-borne illness. 

As Aurora concludes, “To align the food safety issues and continue supporting cottage foods, some limitations to cottage food manufacturing need to be considered. It is recommended that cottage laws permit the sale only of low-risk foods … and as much as possible, a list of low-risk foods should be provided to guide farmers and cottage food manufacturers in this business. … Food safety comes before sales—if a food is not safe, it is not a food.”

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