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Honey is the substance made when the nectar and sweet deposits from plants are gathered, modified, and stored in the honeycomb by honey bees (National Honey Board). It has a long history in human diets and is used in various foods and beverages as a sweetener and flavoring. Honey is considered a non-potentially hazardous food under the Colorado Cottage Foods Act and can be sold as a cottage food.
Q: As a small-scale honey operation, how do I know whether the new Cottage Food Law applies to me?
A: The law applies to those honey operations processing in home kitchens that only sell directly to the consumer and have gross sales receipts of $5,000 or less, per type of item sold.
Q: Do I need to have the FDA nutritional label on the bottles/jars?
A: No, you are exempt from the FDA nutritional label requirements as a cottage food producer since your sales cannot exceed $5,000 per item annually. You are, however, required to display all labeling information required by the Colorado Cottage Foods Act.
Comb honey is honey in its original form, inside the honeycomb. The beeswax comb is edible.
Cut comb honey is liquid honey that has added chunks of the honey comb in the jar.
Liquid honey is extracted from the honey comb by centrifugal force, gravity, or straining. Because liquid honey mixes easily into a variety of foods, it is especially convenient for cooking and baking.
Naturally Crystallized Honey:
Naturally crystallized honey is honey in which part of the glucose content has spontaneously crystallized. It is safe to eat.
Whipped (or Creamed) Honey:
While all honey will crystallize in time, whipped honey (also known as creamed honey) is brought to market in a crystallized state. The crystallization is controlled so that, at room temperature, the honey can be spread like butter or jelly.
Samples must be offered in a sanitary manner using single-use service items such as toothpicks or disposable spoons. Crackers can be used with a serving spoon to apply product. Customers must not be allowed to dip directly into products. Servers must wear a new pair of gloves when preparing samples and/or use clean utensils when handling samples.
Few food safety problems have been associated with honey. Most microorganisms do not grow in honey because of its low water activity. However, honey sometimes contains dormant endospores of the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. Therefore, it is recommended that honey not be given to children younger than 12 months of age. Many honey producers include this information on their containers.
It is recommended that each container be filled with honey as full as practicable; the honey should occupy not less than 95% of the total capacity of the container, be packaged in food grade glass or plastic, and stored at room temperature. Honey should be protected from oxidation and temperature degradation. Excessive heat can have detrimental effects on the quality of honey; generally, large temperature fluctuations should be avoided. All products must display Colorado Cottage Foods label.
In 2012, the Colorado Legislature enacted Senate Bill 12-048 allowing individuals to produce, sell, and store a limited number of specific, non-potentially hazardous “cottage food” products, in an unlicensed home kitchen. Honey is one of the products allowed under this legislation.
Cottage food businesses require no license or permit from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and are not inspected by any state or local government entity. Products must be sold directly by the cottage foods operator to the end consumer and gross sales for each product produced must not exceed $5,000 annually. Sales by consignment or to retail food or wholesale food establishments are prohibited.
A limited range of foods that are non-potentially hazardous and do not require refrigeration. These foods are limited to spices, teas, dehydrated produce, nuts, seeds, honey, jams, jellies, preserves, fruit butter, and baked goods, including candies.
A cottage food operation may only sell products offered with a label containing the following information (printed in English):
Although a cottage food kitchen does not require licensure, the producer does need to obtain food safety training. The Colorado Cottage Foods Act requires “producers to be certified in safe food handling and processing by a third-party certifying entity… and maintain a status of good standing in accordance with the certifying entity practices and procedures, including attending any classes required for certification.”
Recognized food safety training includes: ServSafe® Food Protection Manager Certification, ServSafe® online certification from the National Restaurant Association, or National Environmental Health Association’s Certified Professional Food Manager. Contact CSU Extension or your local public health agency for more information or refer to the Colorado Farm to Market website: http://cofarmtomarket.com/value-added-products/cottage-foods/