What is Considered a Cottage Food in Arkansas?
UPDATE: Act 1040, known as the Arkansas Food Freedom Act, will completely replace Arkansas' existing Cottage Food law when it takes effect July 28, 2021. For more information on selling homemade food to consumers, read our July 2021 blog post
Original Blog Post
Back in August, I got an email asking whether jams and jellies could be sold in a booth at a flea market under Arkansas' Cottage Food law.
The answer: No.
Cottage Food laws are meant to allow small producers to bake, cook, etc. certain low-risk foods (aka "non-hazardous foods") in unlicensed kitchens and offer those foods for sale. Like other states, Arkansas's law clearly defines what can be sold and where.
The Public Policy Center provides an overview of what's covered and required of Cottage Food production operations in this revised fact sheet. Here are some of the basics:
What Foods Can Be Sold
- Bakery products
- Fruit butters
- Chocolate-covered fruit and berries that are not cut
- Other items identified by the Department of Health
Legislators added Chocolate-covered fruit and berries that are not cut to the list of Cottage Foods in 2017.
An important caveat: 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 under this law as Cottage Food products.
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 either. Examples are cheesecake, cream pies or bakery items containing meat, cream or cheese filling.
Where Cottage Foods Can Be Sold
Cottage Foods can only be sold direct from the manufacturer to the customer either from the site where the food was made or at a farmer's market, county fair or special event. The farmer's market can be a physical location or an online market after the passage of Act 399 in 2017.
You can see now why a flea market isn't a suitable location (when considering the law's definition) for someone wanting to sell a Cottage Food item.
Arkansas requires some specific language on the packaging. That language, however, does not provide liability protection, so anyone who is injured by consuming the product can still sue the person who made the Cottage Food item.
Read more about the law and its requirements in Extension's fact sheet on Cottage Food.