Figuring out whether your food items need to be prepared in a commercial kitchen or at home can seem like a daunting task. Hopefully the following information will help you. This information is taken from the Harris County Health Department's Website.
What is the definition of a baked good? A baked good is a food item prepared by baking the item in an oven, which includes cookies, cakes, breads, Danish pastries, donuts, pastries, pies, and other items that are prepared by baking. A baked good cannot be and does not include a time and temperature control for safety food (TCS). What is a cottage food production operation? A cottage food production operation is defined as an individual, operating out of the individual's home, who:
Produces at the individual's home:
a baked good that is not a time and temperature control for safety (TCS) food,
coated and uncoated nuts,
unroasted nut butters,
a canned jam or jelly,
a fruit pie,
dehydrated fruit or vegetables, including dried beans,
popcorn and popcorn snacks,
cereal, including granola, dry mix,
vinegar, pickled fruit or vegetables, including beets and carrots, that are preserved in vinegar, brine, or similar solution at an equilibrium pH values of 4.6 or less,
roasted coffee or dry tea,
a dried herb or dried herb mix,
plant-based acidified canned goods, fermented vegetable products, including products that are refrigerated to preserve quality,
frozen raw and uncut fruit or vegetables,
or any other food that is not a time and temperature control for safety food.
Has an annual gross income of $50,000 or less from the sale of described food.Sells foods produced directly to consumers. Delivers products to the consumer at the point of sale or another location designated by the consumer.
What types of foods MUST be made in a Commercial Kitchen? (Many of our vendors rent a commercial kitchen from someone and must provide the health department with that information.) The following foods are examples of food that can not be produced by a cottage food production operation. Additionally some of these items will also need a Food Manufacturer's License.
THE FOLLOWING ITEMS MUST BE MADE IN A COMMERCIAL KITCHEN.
Fresh or dried meat or meat products including jerky
Kolaches with meat
Fish or shellfish products
Raw seed sprouts
Bakery goods which require any type of refrigeration such as cream, custard or meringue pies and cakes or pastries with cream cheese icings or fillings.
Milk and dairy products including hard, soft and cottage cheeses and yogurt
Cut fresh fruits and/or vegetables
Juices made from fresh fruits or vegetables, that require refrigeration
Ice or ice products
Focaccia-style breads with vegetables or cheeses
Beverages that require refrigeration to prevent the growth of pathogenic bacteria. (TCS Beverages)
Meat or Poultry
What is a time and temperature controlled for safety food (TCS)? A time and temperature control for safety (TCS) food requires time and temperature control for safety to limit pathogen growth or toxin production. In other words, a food must be held under proper temperature controls, such as refrigeration to prevent the growth of bacteria that may cause human illness. A TCS is a food that: contains protein, moisture (water activity greater than 0.85), and is neutral to slightly acidic (pH between 4.6 -7.5). TCS Temperature Requirements for Cottage/Commercial Kitchen and Prepared On-Site Foods: Potentially hazardous food (time/temperature control for safety food) sold, distributed, or prepared on-site at a farmers' market, and potentially hazardous food (time/temperature control for safety food) transported to or from a farmers' market shall meet the requirements of this section. (1) Frozen food. Stored frozen foods shall be maintained frozen. (2) Hot and cold holding. All potentially hazardous food sold at, prepared on site at, or transported to or from a farm or farmers' market at all times shall be maintained at: (3) Cold Foods: 5 degrees Celsius (41 degrees Fahrenheit) or below (4) Hot Foods: 54 degrees Celsius (135 degrees Fahrenheit) or above. (5) Cooking of raw animal foods. Raw animal foods shall be cooked to heat all parts of the food to the following temperatures: (a) poultry, ground poultry, stuffing with poultry, meat and fish to 74 degrees Celsius (165 degrees Fahrenheit) for 15 seconds; (b) ground meat, ground pork, ground fish, and injected meats to 68 degrees Celsius (155 degree Fahrenheit) for 15 seconds;) (c) beef, pork, meat, fish and raw shell eggs for immediate service to 63 degrees Celsius (145 degrees Fahrenheit) for 15 seconds; (d) prepackaged, potentially hazardous food (time/temperature control for safety food), that has been commercially processed, to 57 degree Celsius (135 degrees Fahrenheit);