Video of Arkansas Cottage Food Webinar Now Available
The Public Policy Center hosted a webinar on Arkansas' Cottage Food law in April with the Arkansas Health Department. The recording, and a list of Frequently Asked Questions from webinar participants, is now available.
Webinar Aims to Address Confusion
Arkansans are skilled in the kitchen! Many people are interested in selling their food products under the Cottage Food Law, which allows some food items to be sold to the public without being made in a health department-permitted and inspected kitchen.
We receive numerous phone calls and emails from people about whether their cake, granola bar or spices qualify as a "Cottage Food." There's a lot of confusion out there. For example, Cottage Food is allowed to be sold at a farmers' market. But not every food found at a farmers' market is a Cottage Food under state law. (Meat and goat milk soaps are not Cottage Food items).
Food policy can be tricky, so we invited Sherri Woodus from the Arkansas Department of Health to join us last month for a webinar on the topic of Arkansas' Cottage Food Law. Woodus is the health department's Retail Foods Section Chief.
What is A Cottage Food Item?
Arkansas Code § 20-57-201 defines a "Cottage Food Production Operation" as a person who produces food items in the person's home that are not potentially hazardous foods. The list of allowable foods is limited to:
- Bakery products
- Fruit butters
- Uncut chocolate-covered fruit and berries
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 as a Cottage Food item, according to the Arkansas Department of Health’s Cottage Food rules and regulations.
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 and are considered potentially hazardous foods. Examples are cheesecake, cream pies or bakery items containing meat, cream or cheese filling.
Although Cottage Food items do not have to be prepared in a licensed kitchen, the Arkansas Department of Health retains the right under Arkansas Code Annotated § 20-57-201 (vi) (b) (1) to request samples of food products for testing.
Have A Specific Question?
The Arkansas Health Department can answer your question about whether your product can be sold to the public as a Cottage Food or if you need to have a permit. Contact the environmental health specialist at your local health unit. Find your local health department unit at www.healthy.arkansas.gov/local-health-units.
Have A Non-Cottage Food Item?
Check out the Arkansas Food Innovation Center at https://afic.uark.edu/. The center is part of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture's Institute of Food Science and Engineering. The center, located in Fayetteville, can assist food entrepreneurs in taking their food ideas from concept to market.
If you are located in Cleveland, Searcy or Woodruff counties, check out the Share Grounds: Kitchen Incubator and Aggregation Center Development project. Extension has partnered with several groups to establish kitchen incubators and aggregation centers at county fairgrounds.
Find more local food resources here.