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Cottage Food Law Updated to Include Pop-Up Shop Sales

by Kristin Higgins - July 23, 2019

A woman looks over produce available at a farmers' market The Arkansas Department of Health has updated its Cottage Food Guidelines and Farmers Market Vendor Guide in response to a new state law adding “pop up shops” to where Cottage Foods can legally be sold.

In Arkansas, Cottage Foods are foods that are made in kitchens that are not inspected or licensed by the health department. These food items are not potentially hazardous, meaning they’re less likely to make someone ill.

Examples of Cottage Foods include bakery products, candy, fruit butters, jams, jellies, bakery products, and chocolate-covered fruit and berries that have not been cut. 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.

With the passage of Act 775, Cottage Food items can now be sold in “pop up shops” located in an established business for a limited time period. The new law, which takes effect July 24, 2019, requires the owner or employee of the cottage food operation to be present during sales. 

Arkansas law also allows Cottage Foods to be sold direct from the manufacturer to the customer either from the site where the food was made, at a farmers’ market or an online farmers’ market, county fair or a special event. (FYI, just because a food item is sold at a farmers’ market does not automatically make it a Cottage Food.)

Cottage Food items is not allowed to be sold across state lines, otherwise they would be regulated by the federal government. Because of this, Cottage Food laws differ from state to state.

The Arkansas Department of Health is the state agency tasked with regulating food in Arkansas. If you have questions about whether your food item is considered a Cottage Food or if it needs to be made in an inspected and permitted kitchen, contact the environmental specialist at your local health department unit for guidance.

The Public Policy Center partnered with the Department of Health earlier this year in a webinar to answer some frequently asked questions. You can view that webinar here: https://www.uaex.edu/business-communities/ced-blog/posts/2019/May/Video-of-Arkansas-Cottage-Food-Webinar-Now-Available.aspx