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Cottage food business ordinance OK'd

CONYERS -- The Rockdale County Board of Commissioners last week unanimously approved an ordinance allowing cottage food businesses as a home occupation.

Rockdale County Planning and Development Director Marshall Walker told commissioners earlier that the county ordinance closely follows a state law that took effect in September.

"We have pretty much drafted straight from state law," he said.

The ordinance allows county residents to produce non-potentially hazardous foods in their home kitchens for sale to end consumers. Residents operating a cottage food business are required to have a business license from the county and register annually with the Georgia Department of Agriculture, which has authority to oversee cottage food operations. The state will also conduct a pre-license inspection of the home kitchen for a fee of $100.

Registration with the state requires that the cottage food operator list the business name and address, list the products the operator intends to produce, successfully complete a recognized food safety training course, comply with all local codes and ordinances, and attest that he or she will allow the Department of Agriculture to enter the residence during normal business hours to investigate complaints, possible disease outbreaks, and/or public health emergencies. Inspections due to foodborne illness outbreaks or consumer complaints will be unannounced.

Cottage food applicants are also required to list the source of water used in preparing the food and attach a copy of the most recent water bill to the application. If a private well or other water supply is used, the applicant must have a water analysis for coliform bacteria and nitrates performed annually by the Department of Agriculture at a cost of $100 or by an accredited laboratory.

The state law also lists the types of foods that cottage food operators may prepare and sell, stipulates the type of kitchen equipment that may be used, and specifies the type of labeling and the contents of the label that is attached to the products.