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Oklahoma Cottage Food Law

The Oklahoma State Department of Health license renewal program is part of a larger outlook on food regulation. The state allows for commercial food production and distribution. It also has rules in place for cottage foods. Those rules are in the middle of substantial changes, and those changes will be covered.

Food Operations That Do Not Need Permits in OK

Oklahoma makes it pretty simple. If it counts as a cottage food, you do not need a license. You can only sell $20,000 of food per year under this statute, but licensing is not part of the equation.

The challenge is that Oklahoma only allows baked goods for cottage food production, and only specific baked goods at that. While most states allow jams, jellies, pickles and more, Oklahoma does not.

The simple summary is this. Approved baked goods can be made in a home kitchen without a permit. Nothing else is allowed. That’s it.

How to Get Around Cottage Food Laws

No one is advocating for anyone to try to get around cottage food laws. The state of Oklahoma carefully regulates food production, distribution and sales. Violating any rules or regulations in place could come with civil and legal penalties, none of which are pleasant.

With all of that said, there is an easy way around these limitations. Just wait.

Oklahoma has recently passed the Homemade Food Freedom Act (more on that later). It is set to dramatically change cottage food rules in the state. When it goes into effect, anyone operating a cottage food business will be able to make anything that is deemed shelf-stable. Other foods will also be added to the approved list. It will take effect by the end of 2021.

Oklahoma Cottage Food Laws

So what are the specific laws surrounding cottage food production in Oklahoma? 

Any food that is prepared in a home for sale constitutes a cottage food. The production and sale of these foods is carefully regulated at the state level. Until new legislation takes effect, approved cottage foods constitute a very short list.

Violation of these regulations can incur fines and other civil and legal penalties.

What Permits Do I Need to Sell food?

If your foods are cottage foods, you do not need a permit to produce or sell them.

If you do not fall under cottage food regulation, you will need state licenses to operate a commercial kitchen or food production facility. Keep in mind that these facilities cannot be in your home. That is expressly forbidden by Oklahoma regulations.

The common licenses in Oklahoma include food processing, commercial kitchens, catering, baking and food distribution. Each license has its own rules and requirements, so it’s easier to consider them individually. 

Oklahoma Processor License Requirements

In order to obtain a license for food processing in the state of Oklahoma, one must apply through the county health department. Application fees can cost as much as $425 with no guarantee that the application will be approved. In most cases, application fees are non-refundable.

In Oklahoma, the application requires a submitted food establishment plan. This is where the operator lays out the business practices and food processing operations. If the plan is approved, the license can be granted.

This also covers the process for an Oklahoma food manufacturer license.

Oklahoma Commercial Kitchen Requirements

Commercial kitchen requirements in Oklahoma resemble those of other states. Anything that constitutes a food or drink establishment falls under this purview. This can be a palace that stores, prepares, serves, vends or packages foods or drinks. The exception to this is a free-standing food processing plant.

Licenses for commercial kitchens are handled at the county level. There is an application fee, and one must submit a business plan that will be reviewed by a health board.

Catering License Oklahoma

Catering looks just like commercial kitchens as far as regulations go. The county sets the rules and handles licensing. Application fees will typically cost hundreds of dollars, and they will only be granted if the regulatory body approves of the detailed business and operations plan.

If all of that is approved, one can operate a catering business in Oklahoma.

Oklahoma Homemade Food Freedom Act

The Oklahoma Homemade Food Freedom Act was passed in the summer of 2021. Originally drafted as House Bill 1032, it dramatically changed cottage food regulation in the state. The justification behind the bill was that less regulation could help more people start small food businesses.

For starters, the bill increases allowable home food sales from $20,000 to $75,000 each year. It also adds a large number of foods to the accepted cottage food list. While a select number of baked goods were allowed before, virtually all foods that can be stored dry and without temperature regulation are now approved. Is it illegal to sell food out of your house according to the new rules? No. With the new rules, you can sell directly out of your house without violating any home bakers law. Additionally, there is no license to sell food from home in Oklahoma.

Opening a Bakery in Oklahoma

Because of cottage food laws in the state, there are two ways to try to open a bakery. One can go through commercial licensing and regulations to run a storefront bakery. Conversely, one can focus on home baker's laws that allow for bakeries to run out of a home kitchen. For the latter, a home bakery license for Oklahoma is not needed.

The latter limits annual sales to $75,000 and restricts foods to dry-storage goods only. If that is acceptable, then a home bakery is fine. If the operation will require refrigerated storage or sell more than $75,000 in a year, it must register as a commercial bakery through the local county.

Cottage Foods List Oklahoma

The new approved foods list for Oklahoma is expansive. The majority of shelf-stable foods are allowed. There are exceptions that refer to meat products and canned foods.

The latter exception is a bit more complicated. In general, there is no license to sell canned goods that is required, but it does depend on the process. From sourcing to shelving, the products in the canned goods cannot require temperature control. If they do, then canned food production is labeled as commercial food processing. This is regulated at the county level.

As for meats, no meat products count as cottage foods in Oklahoma. This includes shelf-stable foods like jerky and other dehydrated goods.

As long as the clear exceptions are avoided, all dry storage foods are counted as cottage foods in Oklahoma. This includes non-dairy baked goods, jams, jellies, snacks (like pretzels or crackers) and much more. There are even specific temperature-controlled foods that are permitted, but they will be subject to different storage and distribution regulations.

In all, cottage foods encompass a wide variety in Oklahoma, and it is now one of the least regulated states in this regard.

Cottage Food Laws By State

How does Oklahoma compare to neighboring states when it comes to cottage foods?

Tennessee Cottage Food Laws 2021

Tennessee domestic kitchen rules closely resemble those of incoming rules for Oklahoma. In Tennessee, cottage food laws for 2021 say any facility can make any food that does not require refrigeration or include meat or poultry. Tennessee also bans cottage food production of pickles and sauces. Those products must be made according to Tennessee commercial kitchen regulations.

Arkansas Cottage Food Law

Arkansas passed a new Food Freedom Act in 2021. Under those regulations, there are no sales limits for cottage foods and the production does not require a license. Food producers can sell virtually anywhere, including grocery stores.

The only restrictions are on the foods allowed, and Arkansas does not allow local governments to add restrictions.

Kansas Cottage Food Law

Kansas does not have definitive cottage food laws. According to the Department of Agriculture, you can sell anything at a farmer’s market as long as it is not considered hazardous (no refrigeration required). There are no sales limits, and no license is required. The only major regulation is that all sales have to be person-to-person.

Missouri Cottage Food Law

Missouri has recently updated its rules. For the most part, cottage foods include non-hazardous items. For the most part, these rules are determined and enforced at the local level, so there are not many statewide restrictions. The primary restriction in place is that of food labeling. All sold foods must conform to state labeling requirements. Everything else should be checked at the local level.

Texas Cottage Food Law

Texas requires food handler’s training. This is licensed separately from food production, but anyone handling or selling food must get this minimal requirement. Other than that, cottage food in Texas can produce anything that does not require temperature control, with the exception of meat. Even meats that don’t need temperature control (like jerky) cannot be made in cottage food production.

Annual sales cannot exceed $50,000. No local government can add to these regulations. You can sell the food anywhere. It must be labeled correctly, and you have to have the handler’s card. A cottage food license is not necessary.

New Mexico Cottage Food Law

New Mexico also changed cottage food regulation in 2021. According to the new rules, shelf-stable foods are approved (that means no refrigeration). There is no specific list of approved foods. Foods can be sold directly to customers, at markets, festivals and roadside stands. Cottage food cannot be sold at restaurants or grocery stores.

New Mexico requires a food handler certification, but there are no cottage food permits or licenses.

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