Are you wondering if you can use home-grown tropical fruit from your farm or yard to make allowable or baked Cottage Food items?
The short answer is yes. The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) notes Cottage Food operators are allowed to use these items in approved foods and you should take care to thoroughly wash homegrown fruits. Fruit must also be incorporated into the batter and properly baked, labeled and packaged. Allowable foods may not be decorated or garnished with fresh fruit (FL Cottage Food Operation, Division of Food Safety, 2020).
In an effort to reduce foodborne illness, it’s best to harvest your fruit from the tree rather than wait until it falls to the ground. When fruit is harvested from the tree it reduces the risk of the fruit becoming contaminated with pathogens as well as reduces introduction of contaminants during washing. With mangos for example, sometimes, when the fruit begins to “blush” that indicates it’s a good time to harvest. Fruit continues to respire and ripen even after it is picked and fruit that has fallen to the ground is overripe. Many farms are not allowed to sell “dropped” fruit that has fallen on the ground for fresh eating. Even though Cottage Food law prohibits the sale of fresh fruits products and requires processing, for best quality tropical fruit should be picked free from defects, physical damage, insect injury, and decay when using in a Cottage Food product.
The video below gives an overview of the Florida Cottage Food Law and ways you can use tropical fruit, mangos in particular, in your cottage food operation.
There are a few recent updates to the Florida Cottage Food Law, House Bill 663, starting July 1, 2021, these include:
- Increase gross sales from $50,000 to $250,000 per year
- New allowance for internet sales and by mail (still no wholesale allowed)
- Places cottage food operations under state regulation and exempts them from certain food and building permit requirements
For more information visit these educational resources below from UF/IFAS Extension and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS):
- Cottage Foods / Food Establishments / Food / Business Services / Home – Florida Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services (fdacs.gov)
- Ask IFAS: Food Entrepreneurship in Florida series (ufl.edu)
- Q and A: Understanding Florida’s Cottage Food Law – UF/IFAS Extension Lee County (ufl.edu)
- Starting a New Food Business in the New Year – UF/IFAS Extension Osceola County (ufl.edu)
- Make Money as a Florida Cottage Food Operator – UF/IFAS Extension St. Lucie County (ufl.edu)