Sell your homemade food online

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Arkansas cottage food law began in 2011 with Act 72. Since then, there have been other amendments. First, in 2017 with Act 399, again in 2019 with Act 775.

In 2021, Arkansas act 1040 expanded the state's cottage food law even further. The Food Freedom Act means Arkansas cottage food law 2021 specifically prevents state and local governments from restricting cottage food businesses. And there's no need for a cottage permit from the health department for certain foods.

Today, the Arkansas Department of Health cottage food law is one of the most progressive in the country. Thanks to the Food Freedom Law, home based food businesses can sell food almost anywhere, including grocery and retail stores. Plus, the state allows interstate sales.

Arkansas Cottage Food Law

The Food Freedom Act Arkansas replaced the Arkansas Cottage Food Law, effective July 28th, 2021. Arkansas Homemade Food Production Guidelines allow for direct sales of non-TCS homemade food. These foods are safe without being time or temperature-controlled.

Most foods that don't require refrigeration are considered non-potentially hazardous. These non-TCS foods are exempt from Arkansas Department of Health permit and inspection requirements. Still, there are guidelines to follow, and there is a lengthy list of restricted foods under the Arkansas Department of Health.

However, the Food freedom Act expands the list of acceptable foods and makes it easier to get started. Act 1040 allows non-TCS foods to be sold directly to an informed end consumer. The end consumer is the person who buys the product for consumption.

Labeling and Signage

Appropriate labeling and signage make an informed end customer. While 2021 Arkansas food laws don't require the same kind of food labeling as the FDA, Act 1040 does require specific information, including:

Additionally, the label must include the disclaimer that states production took place in a private residence. This disclosure informs the consumer that the food is exempt from state licensing and inspection and may contain allergens. The label can be on the product's package.

Or, if it's an item offered for sale from a bulk container, the label must be on the main container. There must also be a separate disclosure document for the customer and a placard at the point of sale.

If the business offers online sales, the labeling information must be on the website, and the package must also have a label.

Arkansas Department of Health Regulations

The Arkansas Department of Health regulates foods with poultry, meat, seafood, and other time/temperature-controlled foods to ensure safety. Consequently, these types of foods are on the Arkansas Food Freedom Act 2021 prohibited list. A food service permit Arkansas Department of Health requirement ensures food safety and accurate information about time/temperature-controlled food.

For example, you can run a home based bakery in Arkansas. But there's a list of baked goods that are prohibited, including:

The bottom line? When you're wondering how to sell baked goods from home, plan on baked goods that don't need refrigeration.

Commercial food service establishments such as restaurants, bars, and espresso stands must pass Arkansas Department of Health inspections. But home based food businesses operating under the Food Freedom Act don't have to meet these Arkansas commercial kitchen requirements. So, Arkansas Homemade Food Production Guidelines prohibit homemade food from being used in a commercial kitchen.

Where Can You Sell Homemade Food Products?

With the new cottage food law Arkansas producers can sell directly to informed consumers in-person, on the phone, or online. Here's the thing, it's not just the producer who can do the selling. Arkansas cottage food law also allows an agent such as an employee and even a third-party vendor to sell the products.

Allowed Venues:

Prohibited Venues:

A third-party vendor, such as a grocery store, must keep the non-TCS foods separate from inspected products. Additionally, homemade food producers selling online must follow cottage food laws and regulations where they sell. And, you'll likely need an Arkansas business license regardless of where you're selling your products.

Selling at Farmers Markets

Much like the Arkansas law on selling baked goods from home, there are specific Arkansas farmers market guidelines. The guide provides an overview of food products that vendors can sell. And it outlines the conditions they must meet at the point of sale.

Selling produce in Arkansas is allowed. Home based food sellers can sell raw, uncut fresh fruits and vegetables without a permit or inspection from the Arkansas Department of Health. Bottled, canned, bagged, or wrapped prepackaged non-TCS food is also allowed.

However, the processing must take place in a permitted retail food establishment or a food processing plant. Additionally, non-TCS food items require labeling with the identity and weight or volume and a complete ingredients list. Labels also need to identify the producers with their name and address.

And, the law doesn't allow carry-out boxes for non-TCS foods at the farmers market. But, home-based maple syrup, or sorghum producers, and beekeepers may sell syrup, sorghum, and honey. Not only that, egg producers can sell ungraded eggs at farmers' markets. They must own fewer than 200 hens and meet these requirements:

Producers must refrigerate the eggs at a maintained temperature of 45°F or below in an operable refrigeration unit.

Arkansas Cottage Food List

The Arkansas cottage food list for farmer's markets also states that retailers can buy eggs from home producers. However, they must keep the invoice for two years, indicating the producer's information and the date of purchase. The retailer also needs to track how many eggs they buy.

Here's a breakdown of some of the items on the Arkansas cottage food list.

Baked Goods:

Some breads are allowed. However, if the bread has toppings such as cheese or vegetables, it's prohibited. You can't sell sweet breads such as zucchini bread either.

However, home producers can sell candy, condiments, and dry goods, including:

Home based food businesses can also sell pickles or other acidified foods. But you must ensure that the final pH level of the product is 4.6 or below. There are a few ways to do so.

Use an approved recipe from the National Center for Home Food Preservation. You can also get your recipe/product tested in a lab. And test each batch with a calibrated pH meter if you're not using an approved recipe or certified lab.

The Food Freedom Act doesn't supply exemptions from Arkansas Department of Health investigations. There's no liability coverage if illness results from the consumption of home food products. To that end, it's a best practice to have a food liability insurance policy.

You'll also need to research business licensure and decide how you'll keep records for taxes. The Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center offers free consultation services. You can also use a service like Castiron.

Castiron is a purpose-built platform for home based food producers. You get a free website and tools for allergen tracking to help you keep your customers safe. And you can easily create and manage details, including estimates, invoices, and deposits.

Cottage Food Laws by State

Cottage food laws are expanding across the country. Today, food producers have more opportunities available for home based food operations. For example, in Arkansas, the producer, agent, third-party vendor, or third-party carrier can deliver homemade food products.

Not only that, but the National Environmental Health Association found 43 bills in the 2021-2022 state legislative sessions related to cottage foods. While some states look to reform prior legislation, most look to expand what food producers and retailers can sell without governmental oversight.

For example, Minnesota’s HB 433 Food Freedom Act exempts homemade food sellers from local food safety ordinances. On the other hand, Cottage food law Missouri HB 357 allows cottage food operations to sell food online. Additionally, Missouri’s SB 235 permits selling raw milk and cream.

Cottage food law Oklahoma SB 833 Food Freedom Act, seeks to exempt homemade foods from having to:

Cottage food law Tennessee sponsors say HB 813 and SB 693 will foster small business. And losing government regulations will promote innovation and economic growth.

As in most states, there’s a website for cottage food law Mississippi frequently asked questions. Whether you’re searching for cottage food law Louisiana or Cottage food law Texas, you’ll find the information you need on the state’s health department or agricultural websites.

Join a Community of Home Based Food Producers

You can keep up on cottage food laws and the new Food Freedom Acts by becoming part of a community. Join The Kitchen at Castiron to connect and learn from other artisans and kitchen-based creators.

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