Questions about making and selling my own food items.

So I just finished finished jarring a big batch of Bacon Jam. I intend to hand them out to family and friends over the holidays.

I got me to thinking. I really enjoy doing this and am considering picking this up as a hobby. Perhaps sale my wares over Facebook. I’ve done some preliminary research, and have found that all I need in the state of Texas is a food handlers permit (They cost a whopping $9 lol)

The thing is, that permit isn’t enough to make me feel comfortable selling my stuff*. What I’d really like to do is pay someone more knowledgeable to take a look at my operation to give pointers or at the very least, to make sure everything I’m doing is safe.

For example, I’m currently storing the jars of BJ in the fridge, just to be on the safe side. But is that even necessary?

So yeah, I’m not sure what kind of feedback I’m looking for here. I guess I’m just looking for advice to make me more comfortable in going into such a business.

Also, I’m not looking to make a huge profit from this either. If I can break even and occupy my time in a positive way, I’ll be happy.

  • If I do this, I intend on making other stuff like jerky, and beer cheese.

Where I live if you want to sell food you make at home, (i think there’s a volume means test, maybe?), the city has to inspect your premise and you have to abide by a minimalist type code. No pets, proper food handling practices, separations of stored foodstuffs etc, etc.

Bacon jam? Who knew? Wishing you Good Luck!

Maybe to sell food you need a food handler’s permit, but that might not cover the production of the food in the first place. I think you have to make the food in a kitchen which meets certain requirements. Your home kitchen is likely not sufficient. There are many places which rent out commercial kitchens for people who want to make small batches of food to sell. You might have to look into something like that.

+1 to the posters above. Especially if you’re planning to sell online which crosses state lines. You might be okay selling it on your home state, but woe be to you if someone falls ill in another state.

There used to be a reality show (can’t think of the name) where home cooks competed to get their goods on the supermarket shelf. Lots of interesting info about food handling, costs and marketing. One contestant had a product with bacon in it (might have been jam), and he had to adjust his recipe to hit a certain pH range to be shelf stable and saleable.

BTW, search Amazon for bacon jam, there’s a lot out there.

I found the name of the show, Supermarket Superstar, it aired on Lifetime channel and it was someone making a BBQ sauce with bacon. Though another episode had someone making products with beer and bacon. Can’t find any full episodes online.

Edit: All the episodes are available on Amazon streaming. Episode 5 had the contestant with bacon jam and beer, and Episode 8 had the contestant with the BBQ sauce with bacon.

A search term to check is “cottage food” laws in your county.

Wisconsin has a “cottage law”. It’s meant for home gamers to be able to see specific foods and farmer’s markets, bake sales etc. All food has to be sold direct to the consumer. They cannot wholesale it (ie sell it to a store and have the store resell it).

Once you want to do that, you’re looking at health inspections, weights and measures inspections, taking a food safety class every five years, resellers certificate and working out of a certified kitchen, which the one at your home likely isn’t.
However, there are places that will rent kitchens to people for just this reason so that makes some of it easier.

Also, since your product contains meat (bacon), it would (at least in my state) have to be inspected and stamped by the USDA, which from what I’ve heard is a whole big thing. The few people I know that wholesale items containing meat have had to set up an area/office in their building for the inspector, that then becomes off limits to them.

So, in the end, the person making food on their own may be able to sell it to stores if they’re willing to jump through some hoops, but they’ll probably not be able to afford to do it if it contains meat. And even then, it’s going to be mom and pop stores. Trying to get into grocery stores is process that can take years and cost 10’s of thousands of dollars.

Look into cottage laws and do it as a hobby.

Or, now that I think about it, commission someone to make it for you. If it’s good enough, you may be able to find a food service place to make and distribute it for you.

This was huge issue on Supermarket Superstar and is seen on Shark Tank a lot. Contestants and presenters who refuse to compromise on their products to meet mass market requirements automatically fail to win or get the deal

A few things to look at, how far you need to go may depend upon the aforementioned ‘cottage’ rules for you as a small producer:

  • Make sure you get public liability insurance, and ensure it includes food business related cover.
  • Investigate the labelling laws to find out the minimum requirements, (possibly across multiple jurisdictions).
  • Connected to labelling is
    - the nutritional information requirements. (I found a great online tool for that going back a few years).
    - Whether you need used by or best before dates, and how to calculate that,

Good luck!

The fact that bacon is involved may kill the deal.

In my state you may not sell food made in your home - even at craft shows and farm markets - if it contains meat (even dried/jerky meat).

Good luck,

Food businesses only need one food born illness problem, to suck up any profits that you have generated.

Foods containing meat are not covered by the cottage law in Texas.

Thanks for the input guys.

If no meat, I guess that puts that to rest. :slight_smile:

Keep doing what you love and maybe do something without meat. Just keep in mind that as was mentioned in another thread about finding a job, making something you love to do into a business often takes the joy out of it.

ca just made this enterprise legal…its called a microkitchen business it wont be as strict as a full time food seller as long as you don’t make over 30 k

it started out as a "“local dinner exchange club” on face book for busy moms a mom would post something like “cant make dinner on the 12th whos cooking” someone else would respond making lasagna 10 bucks a 12*12 pan or “making tamales will trade for meatballs” no one was making real money but people were getting fined and such til we voted it in back in nov.…

I’ve mentioned this before. There’s a book called The E-Myth Revisited that covers this topic extensively. What it comes down to is that if you like baking or bartending or cooking, go work at a bakery or bar or in a kitchen. If you open a business you’ll simply not have time to handle the front end and back end on your own. You’ll end up hiring a baker or a bartender or a cook so you can run the business. On the other hand, if you want to run a business, go for it. If you have the will and the know how to do it, it won’t matter what business it is.
Granted, there’s more details to it than that and it’s not 100% true. It was meant more to explain to people that want to start a business that you simply can’t do everything involved in running a business so be careful not to ruin your passion by turning it into a job.

That’s interesting. I have some other thoughts on that, but as far as selling meat, wouldn’t that undermine the USDA?
Food codes are state by state. The FDA puts out a food code, but each state has to adopt it, along with their own changes and enforce it on their own. The USDA is federal and can be ruthless when it comes to selling meat.
If I remember later, I’ll have to pick through my state’s food code to see what it says about selling meat.