You make the most awesome cakes and cupcakes ever! Now, you want to sell them. You want to get a cottage food permit, but what about the frosting? Did you know that most buttercream and cream cheese frostings will not be approved as they are not proven to be shelf stable? What to do. . .
NOTE: Also see updated information at end of post.
All foods made and sold under the Cottage Food Law AB1616 must be non-potentially hazardous meaning that they can be held at room temperature without growing harmful bacteria. According to the FDA, this means foods that have an acidity (pH) level of 4.6 or less or a water activity (Aw) value of 0.85 or less.
If your recipe does not contain perishable ingredients, it may be allowed. Many people claim that most American-style buttercreams made with butter or shortening and powdered sugar do not require refrigeration. However, if you use butter, margarine, oil, cream cheese, etc. the San Diego Environmental Health Department may reject your recipe–or even your permit application–without proof that is non-potentially hazardous.
How can you be sure your frostings are safe and likely to be approved?
- Use a store-bought, commercially prepared frosting which has already been made shelf-stable.
- Use fondant only.
- Check out the updated California list of approved frostings and icings listed below.
- Have a sample of your frosting tested yourself. In San Diego, several food testing laboratories can test your frosting for pH and water activity. Tests run approximately $35-$45.
TexasCottageFoodLaw.com has recipes for several frostings. The recipes were tested and shown to be non-potentially hazardous, but you MUST follow the directions exactly with no substitutions and would need to have whichever recipe(s) you want to use tested yourself. Send the independent laboratory results into the San Diego Environmental Health department with your sample label or permit application.
Remember, all your ingredients must be included on the primary label of your product and the labels must be pre-approved by the Health department. If your frostings include any of the “suspect” ingredients, you will probably be required to get pre-approval from the state or have it tested to demonstrate that the frosting is non-potentially hazardous.
Use these tips to avoid getting “frosted” over your label, application, and recipes!