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Cottage food operations are allowed

I've wanted to start my own pastry business for a few years but don't have the funds to rent or buy a space. An out-of-state relative says they have similar businesses that are cottage food operations, which have less-strict rules and regulations. Does Oregon have this?

— Marilyn W., Medford

Well, Marilyn, you've asked a question with both a simple and complicated answer. Let's start with the easy part first.

According to www.forrager.com, Oregon's cottage food law (SB 320) went into effect Jan. 1, 2016. The new law makes starting a cottage food operation easier, but it also comes with a laundry list of restrictions. Starting your business is simple enough; you need a food handler's card — no license or inspection from the health department is necessary.

This is where the restrictions begin. You can only sell up to $20,000 worth of non-potentially hazardous baked goods each year, and sales through stores, restaurants and online are prohibited. We suggest you visit the website for the complete list of allowed foods you can sell, but a good rule of thumb is that it's limited to non-potentially hazardous foods that do not need to be refrigerated and do not contain meat. So foods such as jams, jellies or anything fermented are out of the question. However, pastries, bread, candy, cookies and a host of other tasty treats are allowed for you to sell. 

If you want to go into business but endure fewer restrictions, you can still get a domestic kitchen license. This requires getting — and passing — a health inspection in whatever location you're doing business, even if that place is your home.

— Send questions to “Since You Asked,” Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@mailtribune.com. To see a collection of columns, go to mailtribune.com/youasked. We’re sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.