HB 970 was signed by Governor Perry and will be effective September 1, 2013!
Brief history: In 2011, the Texas Legislature passed SB 81, a bill making it legal to sell certain homemade foods like baked goods which do not require refrigeration, jams, jellies, and dried herb mixes. While SB 81 opened up great opportunities to thousands of Texans, the bill did have some serious limitations, such as requiring that all sales occur at your home, and some foods which were equally safe, such as candy, were still not allowed. After SB 81 went into effect, an unintended result was that some cities around the state banned cottage food operations on the grounds of "zoning".
Solution: In 2013, State Representative Eddie Rodriguez of Austin, along with the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance, and the House Farm-To-Table Caucus, offered up HB 970, which does the following:
- expands the list of allowable food to include candy, coated and uncoated nuts, unroasted nut butters, fruit butters, dehydrated fruits and vegetables, popcorn, cereal, granola, dry mix, vinegar, pickles, mustard, and roasted coffee or dry tea
- prohibits a municipality from outlawing cottage food operations on the basis of "zoning"
- allows sales outside the home, at specific locations such as farmers markets, farm stands, or municipal, county, or nonprofit fairs and festivals
HB 970 also adds to consumer protections by adding the following requirements:
- all cottage food operators must complete an accredited food handler's course (can be taken online, usually costs about $10 and takes 2 hours or less)
- all foods must be packaged in a way that prevents product contamination, except for large or bulky items