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Arkansas Cottage Food Laws and Regulations: How to sell your homemade foods in Arkansas

Arkansas Cottage Food Laws, Regulations and Facts

Date of the enactment of the cottage food law: February 2011; revised 2017.

Which foods are subject to the Arkansas Cottage Food law?

Allowed foods

Allowed foods include only the following:

  • Bakery products
  •  Candy
  •  Fruit butters (but not pumpkin butter)
  •  Jams
  •  Jellies
  •  Chocolate-covered fruit and berries that are not cut
  • Commercially Pre-packaged Non-Potentially Hazardous Food

Prohibited foods

  • Food items that must be kept refrigerated or hot to remain safe to eat are not allowed to be sold as a Cottage Food item
    Examples are cheesecake, cream pies, pies or bakery items containing meat, cream or cheese filling, Tres Leches cakes, cheese filled items, meringue pies, custard pies, and cream cheese based frostings or fillings
  • Acidified foods including pickled vegetables and most salsas
  • Canned Food
  • Sugar-free jams, jellies, fruit butters and some candy and bakery products made with sugar substitutes are considered potentially hazardous food and may not be sold.
  • Smoked, Cured, or Dried Meats
  • Sprouted Seeds or Beans Sprouts such as alfalfa, clover, sunflower, broccoli, mustard, radish, garlic, dill and pumpkin as well as mung, kidney, pinto, navy, soybeans and wheat berries (wheat grass).
  • Processed Fruits or Vegetables: Fruits or vegetables that are no longer in a whole, raw, uncut form, such as: Dried Fruit/vegetables/herbs/spices Shelled peas and nuts Sliced fruit and/or vegetables (including those offered as samples) Milled grain/flour/meal Juices
  • Homemade Cheeses
  • Raw Milk
  • Wild Harvested Mushrooms
  • Potentially Hazardous Commercially Pre-Packaged Food
  • Ready-to-eat food prepared on site or commercially prepared food that is not prepackaged

If your food product does not meet the definition of a Cottage Food, you may still be able to make and sell it commercially, through a startup approach.  See this page for detailed information about selling foods that do not meet the Cottage Food definition.

Definitions:

  • "Cottage food production operation" -  food items produced in a person's home that are non-potentially hazardous foods such as bakery products, candy, fruit butter, jams, jellies and chocolate-covered fruit and berries that are not cut. Only these products are covered in ACT 399 and are the only products allowed to be sold under ACT 399 of 2017.

Licensing

Kitchens where Cottage Food items are prepared do not need to be licensed or inspected by the health department.

 

Labeling requirements

Cottage Food Production Operations must label all of their food products properly, which includes specified information on the label of each unit of food product offered or distributed for sale.

All processed packaged foods bear a label stating the

  • name and address of the manufacturer/processor preparing the food,
  • common name of the food,
  • name of all the ingredients in the food in descending order of predominance by weight.
  • the net weight of the food in English or metric units.
  • Nutritional claims are not allowed.
  • In addition to ingredients and manufacturer information, the label must include this statement in 10-point type: "This Product is Home-Produced."

It is recommended that honey manufacturers/processors include this additional statement to their product label: "Honey is not recommended for infants less than twelve (12) months of age".

Here is a free Microsoft Word label template which you can download and edit.  These labels are already formatted to fit on Avery Template 22820  Print-to-the-Edge Oval, Labels 2" x 3-1/3", 8 per Sheet, Glossy White. You can get the label stock online (see at right). 

Depending on the size of your business, your label must comply with Federal label regulations and with the new nutritional labeling law. You can download a copy of the FDA Food Labeling Guide here it s an illustrated booklet that should answer all your questions. You may see that the sample label does not include a "nutrional panel" (calories, fat, protein, vitamins, etc.) . This is because if you sell (in the U.S. only) fewer than 10,000 units and hire fewer than 10 full-time employees yearly; you do not have to have a nutrition panel on your label, nor file a small business nutritional labeling exemption notice with the FDA.

Where may Cottage Food Production Operations sell the food products?

Cottage Food items can only be sold direct from the manufacturer to the customer either from

  • the site where the food was made or
  • at a farmers' market,
  • county fair or
  • special event.

The farmers' market can be a physical location or an online market (added in 2017).   Nothing in the law prevents farmers' markets,cities or counties from having more restrictive cottage-food regulations. The Cottage Food law did not include any language to prevent cities or counties from passing ordinances with more restrictions

Note: Homemade items produced to be sold at a store or an online store are NOT allowed under the Cottage Food law and are not exempt from Department of Health permitting.

 

Other requirements

  • Individuals can only sell their products directly to consumers, (that allows sales from home and at events)
  • Cottage food operations can sell up to $50,000 of products per year.
  • A new billHB 410 went into effect on August 28th, 2017, allows onlne sales

Recommendations:

Beyond the requirements, common sense, good practices and reducing liability suggests you should do the following.

Testing of pH

​It's best to use a pH meter, properly calibrated on the day used. I use this one, which is reliable and inexpensive. And this pH meter is really good, but isn't always available.
Short-range paper pH test strips, commonly known as litmus paper, may be used instead, if the product normally has a pH of 4.0 or lower and the paper's range includes a pH of 4.6.

Record-keeping is suggested

Keep a written record of every batch of product made for sale, including:

  • ​Recipe, including procedures and ingredients
  • Amount canned and sold
  • Canning date
  • Sale dates and locations
  • Gross sales receipts
  • Results of any pH test

Sanitation

Although iInspections are not required, you should consider doing the following:

  • ​Use clean equipment that has been effectively sanitized prior to use
  • Clean work surfaces and then sanitize with bleach water before and after use
  • Keep ingredients separate from other unprocessed foods
  • Keep household pets out of the work area
  • Keep walls and floors clean
  • Have adequate lighting
  • Keep window and door screens in good repair to keep insects out
  • Wash hands frequently while working
  • Consider annual testing of water if using a private well

Best Practices

  • Allergans:  Most state home baking acts require an "ingredient statement" and/or an "allergen listing" on the label of the bakery item for sale; but if your state does not, you should anyway. The eight major food allergens are
    • milk,
    • eggs,
    • fish,
    • crustacean shellfish,
    • tree nuts,
    • peanuts,
    • wheat and
    • soybean.
  • Cross-allergenicity: There are also ingredients available, even flours, that can cause a cross-allergenicity. The American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology explains cross-allergenicity as an allergic reaction when proteins in one substance are similar to the proteins found in another substance. For example, consumption of lupine flour may trigger an allergic reaction to peanuts, and cricket flour may trigger an allergic reaction to shellfish. Again, providing such information might be a beneficial marketing tool and help keep potential consumers safe.
  • The 2 Hour/4 Hour Rule -  Anyone wishing to make and sell refrigerated bakery items should remember to follow the "2 Hour/4 Hour Rule." This is a system that can be implemented when potentially hazardous foods are out of temperature control (temperatures greater than 45 degrees Fahrenheit) during preparation, serving or display for sale. The rule guidelines are as follows:
    • If a potentially hazardous food has been out of temperature control for 2 hours or less, then it may continue to be used or be placed back in the refrigerator.
    • If a potentially hazardous food has been out of temperature control for more than 2 hours but less than 4 hours, it needs to be used quickly or discarded.
    • If a potentially hazardous food has been out of temperature control for more than 4 hours, it must be discarded.

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