AMES, Iowa – As harvest season is wrapping up, small food businesses in Iowa are busy baking pumpkin pies and canning fresh blackberry jam. Part of the food supply chain, Iowans who produce and sell goods from their homes are known as home-based kitchen operators.
Iowa State University Extension and Outreach offers training to help these operators produce food safely and align with state rules and regulations.
According to Iowa Code 137D, which was passed in July 2022 and updated in July 2023, there are two types of home-based kitchen operators: cottage food operators and home food processing establishments. The new law, sometimes called the cottage food law, changes the regulations and licensing information for home-based kitchen operators. The new licensing has broadened to include other home food processing establishments.
The 2023 updates include what these operators are able to produce and sell from their own homes. Home food processors are now able to sell made-to-order food items as long as the food is maintained at appropriate hot and/or cold holding temperatures. Cold foods should be kept at 41 degrees Fahrenheit or below and hot foods should be kept at 140 F or above.
ISU Extension and Outreach offers online training in food safety, food preparation, and Iowa rules and regulations designed specifically for both types of home-based kitchen operators in Iowa, according to Shannon Coleman, associate professor in food science and human nutrition and a human sciences extension specialist at Iowa State.
The Home-Based Kitchen Operations: Regulations and Food Safety Course is available online 24/7 in Moodle, an online learning management system.
“Iowa has unique laws that do allow for some foods to be sold out of the home or at a farmers market,” said Coleman. “The online learning modules in this course have been tailored specifically to Iowa’s laws and regulations and also include food safety information that can be used in production and at the point of sale. Our training is also listed as one of the approved trainings to obtain a home food processing license.”
The course consists of seven modules that address Iowa regulations and licensing and food safety procedures from preparation to point of sale. Topics include food safety basics, labeling information, foodborne pathogens, foods that do and do not require temperature control for safety, and record-keeping.
Interested food businesses may register online at https://store.extension.iastate.edu/product/16554. The cost of the training is $70. Food businesses that completed the previous online home-based kitchen operator training (before training was required for licensing) may check their current course and review the updated modules. Please contact Shannon Coleman at firstname.lastname@example.org or 515-294-9011 to register or for more information.