LAW

Connecticut Post (Sunday) - - Business - Alex. [email protected] scni. com; 203- 842- 2545; @ ca­soul­man

Post­mates or Uber — even if sell­ing on­line.

State law pre­vi­ously re­quired all food ven­dors to use com­mer­cial kitchens, with a few ex­cep­tions for farms and char­i­ta­ble bake sales, a sig­nif­i­cant startup cost that dis­cour­aged some en­trepreneurs from tak­ing on the risk of at­tempt­ing to launch a busi­ness.

While re­tail stores are off- lim­its, farm­ers mar­kets are fair game, giv­ing bud­ding busi­ness­peo­ple one out­let to win wider no­tice, but one that re­quires staffing a ta­ble one or more days dur­ing the run of any farm­ers mar­ket.

The Con­necti­cut law was driven by out­go­ing state Sen. Melissa Zio­bron, R- East Had­dam, who saw it as a way for en­trepreneurs to test their ideas prior to sign­ing a com­mer­cial kitchen lease or sim­ply as a way for peo­ple to gen­er­ate ex­tra in­come. Af­ter ini­tial pas­sage in 2015, how­ever, the new rules lan­guished on the shelf un­til a sec­ond law was passed last June pro­vid­ing greater clar­ity.

The state Of­fice of Fis­cal Anal­y­sis has es­ti­mated that DCP could is­sue as many as 500 li­censes ini­tially un­der the new law, with li­censes cost­ing $ 50 each.

From OK to great

Con­necti­cut’s new cot­tage food law is lim­ited to foods that do not re­quire set cook­ing times and tem­per­a­tures to pre­vent any food spoil­ing or oth­er­wise caus­ing harm. La­bels are re­quired to list in­gre­di­ents and al­ler­gens, the name and ad­dress of the pre­parer, and carry a “cot­tage food” no­ta­tion.

Sell­ers may not have an­nual sales in ex­cess of $ 25,000, and may not op­er­ate as a food ser­vice es­tab­lish­ment host­ing pa­trons.

Al­lowed un­der the law are many pas­tries, in­clud­ing wed­ding cakes, as well as candy, ce­re­als, jams, cof­fee grounds, tea leaves, pop­corn, sea­son­ings and trail mix.

Salsa and pasta sauce are a few popular items not al­lowed un­der the new law — cooked veg­eta­bles have to be kept chilled to en­sure safety. DCP is so­lic­it­ing in­put from state res­i­dents on clar­i­fi­ca­tion it can pro­vide on any foods not al­ready spec­i­fied as al­lowed or pro­hib­ited.

The cot­tage food law tracker web­site For­rager slaps an “OK” la­bel on Con­necti­cut’s new rules. Mas­sachusetts and Maine are among nine states with the least re­stric­tive rules for en­trepreneurs. New York state is one of nearly 20 states to re­cieve a “good” grade from For­rager.

Mas­sachusetts has had its cot­tage food law on the books since 2000, al­low­ing non- per­ish­able, home- pro­duced foods to be sold in any out­let with no sales quo­tas. New York sim­i­larly does not place a ceil­ing on sales, but un­like Con­necti­cut, bars on­line sales trans­ac­tions.

Get­ting into peo­ple’s homes

In Con­necti­cut, ap­pli­cants must take a food safety course — on­line op­tions cost $ 15, with com­mu­nity col­leges an­other op­tion — and must spec­ify the prod­ucts they will make, the prepa­ra­tion meth­ods they will em­ploy, and pro­vide a lab anal­y­sis of wa­ter drawn from any pri­vate well. En­trepreneurs are not al­lowed to use com­mer­cial- grade mix­ers and other cook­ing equip­ment, on the the­ory that most kitchen sinks are not large enough to en­sure proper cleans­ing.

DCP re­tains the right to in­spect the premises at any time, with food al­lowed to be made only in a home’s kitchen — no out­build­ing kitchens are al­lowed — and with no pets or chil­dren present at the time of prepa­ra­tion. Dur­ing a 2015 meet­ing of a Gen­eral As­sem­bly com­mit­tee weigh­ing the orig­i­nal cot­tage food law, state Sen. Carlo Leone, D- Stam­ford, sug­gested those in­spec­tions could cre­ate is­sues.

“My only con­cern is if it’s go­ing to be in a per­son’s home and they start to ramp up to a large scale — aside from what you or I or some­one would make a few jars of what­ever — ... you’re go­ing to have to have a lot of on­go­ing in­spec­tions,” Leone said at the time. “Now you’re get­ting into peo­ple’s homes, and pri­vacy is­sues.”

On the Cot­tage Food Law CT Move­ment Face­book page that has drawn some 1,500 likes, a Tol­land res­i­dent de­scribed her ex­pe­ri­ence in get­ting cer­ti­fied, with steps in­clud­ing ap­ply­ing for a home oc­cu­pa­tion per­mit from her town and fil­ing in­for­ma­tion on her sep­tic sys­tem; get­ting a wa­ter test that took two days; com­plet­ing a food han­dling course within a few hours on­line; and sub­mit­ting the DCP ap­pli­ca­tion, with the re­view process tak­ing up to 10 days.

But a few oth­ers have re­ported is­sues get­ting mu­nic­i­pal ap­provals, in­clud­ing one in­di­vid­ual who said her town re­quires a spe­cial per­mit and a pub­lic hear­ing, and that she con­tact any­one liv­ing within 500 feet of her home to alert them of her plans.

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