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December 2021

Questa  •  Red River  •  Cerro  •  Costilla  •  Amalia  •  Lama  •  San Cristobal

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In March of this year, the New Mexico legislature passed the Homemade Food Act, which allows the sale of some foods prepared in home kitchens to be sold directly to customers. Previously home chefs needed to prepare foods in commercial kitchens. The law will also allow the sale of some foods directly from home rather than at roadside stands or farmers markets. The law went into effect on July 1.


Before the Homemade Food Act, the cottage food industry in New Mexico (and Albuquerque especially) had many restrictions, but now, for example, you can legally bake cookies and sell them direct from your home to customers, or do mail orders directly from home, as long as you sell within the state of New Mexico and maintain sanitary conditions in your home kitchen and food storage areas.


What restrictions have not changed? First and most importantly is that the State of New Mexico still requires you to have a Food Handler Card from an approved state program. This permit costs as little as $15, so it does not provide a big obstacle to home chefs. It requires you to study food safety rules and take an online test. If you’d like to apply for your food handler card, you can do so online at https://www.env.New Mexico.gov/foodprogram/food-handler-card/


While the Homemade Food Act will free up many home cooks to do business from home, the law can be confusing, as it does not provide a full list of exempt products. The New Mexico Environment Department webpage gives examples. Only what the state calls “non-TCS” foods are now allowed to be cooked and sold directly from your home under the Homemade Food Act. Non-TCS are “non-time/temperature control for safety” or food that “only requires simple production steps and does not require refrigeration when complete.” Examples of things that are non-TCS include: non-cream filled baked goods that don’t require refrigeration (cakes, cookies, yeast breads, pies, pastries), candy, popcorn, chocolate-covered pretzels, dehydrated fruits, granola mixes, roasted coffee, whole fruits and vegetables, and standard high-sugar fruit jams and jellies.


Foods that still require permits and commercial kitchen production include: any alcohol-containing food or beverage as well as all time/temperature-controlled for safety foods. Examples of TCS food that is NOT allowed to be sold direct from private residences includes: meat products including jerky, salsa, fish (including smoked), foods containing CBD hemp or hemp extract, vegetable jams/jellies (such as hot pepper jelly), canned fruits or vegetables, canned pickled products (like corn relish, pickles, sauerkraut, etc.), pies or cakes that require refrigeration, for example banana cream, pumpkin, lemon meringue or custard pies; cheesecake; cakes with frosting that requires refrigeration such as cream cheese frosting; milk and dairy products like cheese or yogurt, cut fruits and vegetables, caramel apples, hummus, garlic in oil mixtures, beverages like fruit/vegetable juices, kombucha, apple cider, sprouts, food products with fresh vegetables, fruits and or cheeses, salad dressings or acidified foods.


If you want to cook any of the TCS foods above for sale you still have the chance to do so by using the San Cristobal commercial kitchen, located in the San Cristobal Community Center. https://www.facebook.com/groups/3450677718312313 Other commercial kitchens also exist within the area served by this paper. Where to find the list of commercial kitchens?


For more info see https://www.env.NewMexico.gov/foodprogram/homemadefood/

Author

  • Dr. Caroline Yezer is a cultural anthropologist (PhD Duke University 2007) who has taught anthropology curriculum at College of the Holy Cross and Clark University in Massachusetts.

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