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Health Department

Farmers Markets and Cottage Foods

Farmers Markets

Farmers markets are not considered temporary events and are subject to Colorado Retail Food Establishment Rules and Regulations. Please reach out to us prior to hosting a farmers market to ensure compliance with regulations.  

The following foods are exempt from licensure at farmers markets: 

  • Whole uncut fruits and vegetables, such as apples, carrots, combs of honey, lettuce, melons, radishes, stalk celery, stalk broccoli, strawberries, raw mixed greens, and micro greens intended to be washed by the consumer prior to consumption. 
  • Commercially prepackaged non-potentially hazardous foods (non-PHF) and beverages (without ice). 
  • Commercially prepackaged ice cream and frozen yogurt novelties.  
  • Hot beverages, non-PHF donuts, and pastries (cupcakes, bagels, cookies). 
  • Popcorn, which is seasoned with salt, buttered, or sugared (kettle corn). 
  • Dry non-PHF that must be cooked to be consumed that is portioned onsite (pasta, beans, dry spices, coffee beans, and tea leaves, but not blended ingredients such as spice or dry soup mixes). 
  • Samples are prepared in a sanitary manner and with an approved handwashing facility. See Colorado State University Extension publication Food Safety for Farmers Market Vendors 
  • Foods that meet the requirements of the Colorado Cottage Food Act. See CDPHE’s overview of Cottage Foods. 

Food prepared on-site must be served from a licensed mobile unit or push cart and must hold an RFE license. 

Food made or prepackaged in an approved commercial facility by the vendor or a wholesaler is exempt from licensure if the food was produced in a licensed facility and the item is appropriately labeled for resale. Potentially hazardous foods must be stored in approved hot or cold holding units and require a prepackaged RFE license. 

Samples are exempted from licensing requirements but sanitation guidance must be followed, including an approved hand-washing facility. 

Bare hand contact is not permitted. 

Food cooked or stored at a private residence is not permitted unless the food meets the requirements of the Colorado Cottage Food Act. 

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Cottage Foods

The Colorado Cottage Food Act permits limited food products to be sold or served without licensing or inspection. Contact Environmental Health if you have questions about eligibility of a food product under the Cottage Food Act. 

The Colorado Cottage Food Act requires that cottage food producers complete a food safety training course.  

Helpful Resources 

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Cottage Food FAQs

Do I need to have my food handling/safety training done before I start selling?

Yes, the Colorado Cottage Foods Act requires that safe food certification be completed to sell a cottage food product.  


Do all employees in my business need safe food handling/processing training?

Yes. All employees directly handling food products are required to have safe food certification complete as outlined in the Colorado Cottage Foods Act. 


Are all pies allowed?

Many pies are allowed. Some potentially hazardous pies that require refrigeration, such as some pumpkin and cream pies, are not allowed since they support pathogenic growth. 


Is frozen jam or jelly allowed?

No, frozen foods are not allowed under the Colorado Cottage Foods Act. 


Can I use homegrown goods? Do I need a license to use home grown goods?

You are allowed to use homegrown produce and herbs in the products you produce for sale. You do not need a license, but safe food handling/processing guidelines should be followed. 


Can I sell canned little cakes and quick breads?

No, cakes and quick bread baked in a canning jar are not safe food products and are not allowed. The only canned products allowed under the Act are jams, jellies, and fruit butter (with the exception of jalapeno jelly and pumpkin butter, which are not allowed). Dry mixes that are labeled can be packed in a canning jar and sold. 


Why is jam production allowed but canned fruits are not allowed?

The preserved products allowed in Colorado as cottage foods (jams, jellies, some fruit butter) have different characteristics than canned fruits and vegetables. Higher amounts of sugar in these products lower the water activity and, therefore, inhibit the growth of microorganisms. 


Are traditionally fermented foods allowed, such as lacto-fermented pickles?

No, fermented foods are not allowed under the Colorado Cottage Foods Act. 


How should I label a wedding cake that is unpackaged?

For cakes that are not easily packaged, you must include all labeling requirements on the invoice and deliver the invoice with the cake directly to the consumer (purchaser). Smaller cakes must be boxed, and the label must be included on the box. 


Do the regulations referring to a “home” also apply to an apartment or condominium?

Yes, as long as the kitchen is in your primary residence. Check on the policies from your landlord or HOA about operating a small business out of your home.