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Massachusetts likely to make changes to 21-year-old cottage food law

By on November 8, 2021 0

Massachusetts’ “Cabin Food Act” is outdated and needs updating, some say.

Bay State was one of the first states to allow the sale of traditional foods, that is, low-risk, homemade food products. Its current law on artisanal food was adopted in 2000.

In the 21 years since some lawmakers said the state has fallen behind. Some states require cities and towns to make their own regulations and allow licenses.

Representative Erika Uyterhoeven, D-Somerville, said hundreds of towns and villages across the state have not created a permit system for cottage food. She is proposing the H-465 to make cabin food competitive again.

Here are some of the provisions of the Uyterhoeven bill

  • A cottage food operation is a person who produces cottage food products only in the kitchen of that person’s primary residence and only for direct retail sale to the consumer.
  • A small-scale food operation should not be considered a retail food establishment by the Ministry of Public Health.
  • The cottage food product is a zero time / temperature control for food safety foods produced on a cottage food operation.

Cottage food products include, but are not limited to;

  • jams, uncut fruits and vegetables, pickled vegetables and hard candies,
  • fudge, nut mixes, granola, dry soup mixes, and excluding meat, dried fruit and fruit empanadas soup mixes,
  • tamales with fruits, coffee beans, popcorn, and baked goods that do not contain icing or dairy or meat toppings
  • or other potentially dangerous frostings or toppings, such as bread, cookies, biscuits, churros, pastries and tortillas.

“Direct-to-Consumer Retail” means a government-to-government transaction between a small-scale food business and a consumer. These direct sales include, but are not limited to, transactions:

  • at farm stalls, farmers’ markets, subscriptions to community-supported agriculture;
  • at holiday bazaars, bake sales, food exchanges, other temporary events or other charitable functions;
  • by phone or online,
  • Cottage foods must be delivered in person by the producer to the consumer.

All 50 states allow the sale of food in cabins. Harvard’s FoodLaw and Policy Clinic reports 55 bills have been introduced to relax cottage nutrition laws

The bill also states that the Ministry of Public Health “shall establish and maintain an electronic log of chalet food operations within six months of the enactment of this law.” This registration system should be voluntary for artisanal food operations, should be used only for the purpose of collecting general information on artisanal food operations in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and should not impose fees on artisanal food operations, nor impose any other restrictions other than those in this section / ”

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