House Bill 702 would help cottage food operators by increasing the maximum annual gross sales to $35,000 and authorize them to advertise online. Both are now headed to the Senate for committee assignment, likely the Senate Agriculture Committee.
Cottage food operators are defined by the Mississippi Department of Health as those who sell non-perishable foods made in their home kitchens such as candy, cookies, pies, cakes, dried fruit, trail mix, jams and jellies and popcorn.
Right now, cottage food operators are limited to $20,000 in gross annual sales. They were removed from state regulations by Senate Bill 2553 in 2013.
HB 702 was authored by state Rep. Casey Eure (R-Saucier) and passed 116-0, with one present vote.
According to a 2018 report by the Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation at Harvard University Law School, Mississippi ranks in the middle tier among states when it comes to cottage food sales.
Mississippi allows direct sales to consumers, but not indirect sales (to restaurants, retail and wholesale).
Twelve states allow both indirect and direct sales to consumers.
Mississippi is in the lower tier at present for annual sales limits and would move up to the next tier (annual sales of $30,001 to $50,000) if Gov. Phil Bryant signs HB 702 into law.
Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming don’t have any annual restrictions on cottage food sales.
The bill would also remove the prohibition on advertising their products online, allowing operators to run a website or post pictures on social media.
The other food-related bill of the day, HB 793, would prohibit producers from labelling any food produced or cultured from animal tissue and plant- or insect-based food products as meat.
State Rep. Bill Pigott (R-Tylertown) wrote HB 793 and it also passed 116-0.
Meat grown in a laboratory, according to a July report by the Associated Press, could be on the market by 2021. A Dutch company, Mosa Meat, said it had the funds to get the product — which is made from a small sample of cells taken from a live animal and fed nutrients so they grow into strands of muscle tissue — into stores.
According to the story, the company claims it could make up to 80,000 quarter pounders from a single sample.