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What You Can Make and Sell Under the Arkansas Food Freedom Act

by Kristin Higgins - July 28, 2021

Arkansas' new Food Freedom Act took effect July 28, 2021, expanding what and where homemade foods and drinks can be sold. The law also changed labeling requirements for qualifying homemade food items.

Act 1040 replaced the state’s Cottage Food law, which allowed a few specific homemade food products to be sold directly to consumers without being made in a kitchen certified and inspected by the Arkansas Department of Health.

What Can I Sell Under This Law?

Act 1040 of 2021 allows the sale of homemade “non-time/temperature control for safety food” without it being processed in a certified and inspected kitchen. Harmful bacteria do not grow easily on these kinds of food so they do not need to be kept hot or cold for their safety.

People in the food industry often call these shelf-stable products a “Non-TCS” food. Examples of Non-TCS foods include most items that fell under Arkansas’ old Cottage Food law: baked goods, candies, jam and jellies that use real sugars.

Additionally, pickles, some salsas and sauces, and acidified or fermented beverages can also be a Non-TCS food depending on their pH acidity levels. Beekeepers will also be able to sell more products under this new law.

Download the Guide and Fact Sheet

Read the Arkansas Department of Health's "Arkansas Homemade Food Production Guidelines" for more information about what can be sold under the new law.

The guide include links to specific recipes that can be used as well as a table listing products that can be sold, can't be sold, or may need more advice from health officials. 

The Cooperative Extension Service has also created a new website about the new law at https://www.uaex.uada.edu/business-communities/local-foods/AR-food-freedom-act.aspx. This website replaces one that existed explaining the Cottage Food law, which no longer exists.

Need a handout? The Public Policy Center's new fact sheet on the law can help introduce the new law to farmers market groups or other audiences.

What Can’t I Sell Under This Law?

Arkansas Code 20-57-504 prohibits the sale of meat, poultry, seafood, and “time/temperature control for safety food products” under the Food Freedom Act. This means you can not sell homemade food or drink products using these items or ingredients.

According to the law, TCS food products include an animal food that is raw or heat treated; plant-based foods that is heat treated or includes raw seed sprouts; cut leafy greens; cut tomatoes or mixtures of tomatoes and garlic-in-oil mixtures. 

If you have a question about a specific food item, contact your local health department office. Contact information for local units can be found at healthy.arkansas.gov/local-health-units.

Where Can I Sell This Food?

Producers can sell the product:

  • From their home
  • At farmers markets
  • Website 
  • Through third-party vendor, such as a retail shop or grocery store

Am I Protected From Lawsuits?

The Arkansas Food Freedom Act does not provide liability protection, so anyone who is injured by consuming the product can still sue the person who made or sold the food item. Complaints can also be made to and investigated by the Arkansas Department of Health.

Being exempt from health department permits is not the same thing as being exempt from local business permits. Check with your local city or county clerk on any permitting or licensing requirements.

Where Can I Read The Law?

Access Act 1040 of 2021, also known as the Arkansas Food Freedom Act, at https://www.arkleg.state.ar.us/Acts/FTPDocument?file=1040&path=%2FACTS%2F2021R%2FPublic%2F&ddBienniumSession=2021%2F2021R&Search=

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