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Home-Cooked Foods Wins Colorado Senate Approval

DENVER (AP) - A proposed "cottage foods" designation allowing farmers to sell foods prepared right out of their kitchens is a step closer to approval in Colorado, where the state Senate signed off on the proposal Wednesday.

Supporters say the change would make it easier for farmers to make foods deemed low-risk for contagion at home, instead of renting a commercial kitchen for such foods as jams, jellies or roasted chilies.

"These are quite important local jobs," said the cottage food sponsor, Democratic Sen. Gail Schwartz of Snowmass Village.

The proposal passed easily on a preliminary voice vote, moving Colorado closer to joining about a dozen states with cottage food designations.

But the measure is not without opposition. A handful of Republicans argued unsuccessfully Wednesday that the designation simply creates red tape for home cooks who will have to file paperwork with local authorities. They argued that the designation is a step in the right direction, but doesn't go far enough because they said all home cooks should be free to sell their wares.

"Grandma knows what she's doing," argued Republican Sen. Kevin Grantham of Canon City.

The measure is also opposed by influential farming groups including the Colorado Farm Bureau, the Colorado Cattlemen's Association and the Colorado Egg Producers Association. Those groups have warned that food contagion from a home cooks could hurt all farmers.

The designation has also prompted several dozen home cooks who have signed a Facebook petition arguing that the cottage food exemption should be for all, not just farmers.

But those fears didn't come up on a floor debate Wednesday. Schwartz, who passed out recipes for homemade peach chutney and bragged that she's never made anyone sick, argued that the change could spark more people entering the food business.

"They'll be selling it by the jar, but eventually they'll be selling it by the pallet," she said.

One more vote is required before the measure heads to the House.

- By Kristen Wyatt, AP Writer

Read Senate Bill 258

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

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