Beyond Cottage Food Products: What’s pH have to do with it?

Florida’s Cottage Food Law allows food entrepreneurs to use their home kitchen to produce food products that are considered not potentially hazardous. Gross sales for a cottage food operation must not exceed $50,000 annually, require no license or permit and are not inspected by any state government entity.

While cottage food law may be an exemption from state food regulatory requirements, sit tight. The food products allowable under Florida’s cottage food law can be very limiting for most food entrepreneurs. To find out what types of cottage food can and cannot be produced in a Florida cottage food operation please refer to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) Cottage Food Operations guidance brochure.

After reviewing the cottage food operations FDACS guidelines, you may find that your food product does not qualify under Florida cottage food law.  Why not? Well, if you are producing a food product not allowed, it is because that product is considered potentially hazardous; and therefore requires time and temperature control for safety. Foods that require time and temperature control, can become hazardous if not handled properly and/or their bacterial growth is not controlled. Thus, beyond cottage food operations, food entrepreneurs are subject to a wide range of food regulatory requirements in order to keep food and consumers safe.

What if the food products you want to produce and sell includes sauces, salsas, marinades, flavored oils, pepper jelly, canned fruits/vegetables or pickled products? Well this is where the pH of the food product comes into play. Food entrepreneurs wishing to produce and sell shelf-stable acidified (pH of 4.6 or less) and/or low-acid (pH greater than 4.6) canned foods in hermetically sealed containers must abide by FDA regulations. In order to learn more about producing these types of food products, check out the most recent EDIS document in Food Entrepreneurship in Florida series on Acidified and Low-Acid Food. This factsheet clarifies the necessary steps for food entrepreneurs to understand and comply with FDA regulations in order to produce and sell acidified and low-acid foods in Florida.

For more information:

Visit the Lee County Extension Office or contact Family and Consumer Sciences Agent, Jennifer Hagen, at 239-533-7510 or email Jennifer here.