From jams and jellies to muffins and cookies, selling certain food items from the home is an option for many Alabama residents. However, the process may be more complicated than people expect. For home business owners, there are several precautions they must take in order to legally sell their products. These precautions are known as Cottage Food Law.
Cottage Food Law
According to Janet Johnson, Alabama Extension food safety and quality regional agent, the Cottage Food Law protects home businesses selling perishable food and goods. These laws vary for each state.
“For Alabama, the law allows individuals to sell certain non-hazardous foods prepared in their home to the public,” Johnson said. Owners must have a business license and pay sales taxes. The law also limits the producer’s sales to $20,000 per year. Prior to the law, the sale of homemade food was only acceptable at farmers markets. Now, the enforcement of the current law in 2014 allows home businesses to thrive while keeping consumers safe.
Permitted and prohibited
While the Cottage Food Law allows producers to sell goods from the home, the law only permits certain food items. The cottage foods include baked goods, candles, jams, jellies, dry herbs, and dry herb mixes.
“Any food that requires temperature control is not permitted under the law,” Johnson said. Other prohibited goods include meats, popcorn, pickles, canned fruits and vegetables, milk products, and juices. For the full list of prohibited foods, visit the Alabama Cottage Food Law Rules and Regulations page on the Alabama Extension website.
Along with food limitations, there are strict rules about proper labeling. The Alabama Cottage Food Law requires each label to include the following:
• name of the product (highly recommended, but not required).
• name of the individual or business.
• address of the individual or business.
• statement declaring: “THIS FOOD IS NOT INSPECTED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH.”
People can submit labels, along with a copy of a certification, to the local county health department for approval.
In order for the Cottage Food Law to protect a home business, the producer must have a valid food safety certification. The Alabama Department of Public Health accepts several different certifications such as the National Registry, ServSafe, and various restaurant food safety certifications.
“One of the eligible certifications is the Alabama Cottage Food online training,” Johnson said. “This program is specifically for Cottage Food certifications from the Alabama Extension Food Safety and Quality team.”
Before selling any food item, make sure it’s safe and covered by the Cottage Food Law. For more information on the Alabama Cottage Food Law, visit the Alabama Extension website at www.aces.edu or contact the Blount County Extension Office at 205-274-2129.
Alabama Junior Beef Expo
Congratulations to all of the exhibitors from Blount County for outstanding representation at the Alabama Junior Beef Expo!
Audra Graves, Cleveland: 3rd Overall Sr. Showmanship, Champion Bred and Owned Angus Heifer, 4th Overall Bred and Owned Heifer, Champion Bred and Owned Simmental, 1st in class (Angus and Simmental)
Karleigh Allison, Susan Moore: Champion Hereford Heifer
Carson Fallin, Blountsville: Champion Simmental Heifer, 3rd in class (Angus)
Sara Beth Faust, Cleveland: Reserve Champion Percent Simmental, Reserve Champion Bred and Owned Hereford, 1st in class (Hereford, Percent Simmental, Simmental)
Abby Burgess, Susan Moore: 2nd in Class (Simmental)
Reid Murphree, Appalachian: 4th in class (Market animals)
We are so proud of these young people and glad they are from Blount County!
Upcoming Extension programs
• Virtual Alabama Auxin herbicide training will be Mondays, April 19 and May 3, at 10 a.m. Please contact the Extension Office for more details and if you need a face-to-face option.
• Blount County 4-H Pig Squeal Show and Auction will be held Saturday, April 24, at 10 a.m., at the Agribusiness Center. Come out and support the 4-H members by purchasing some pork for your freezer!
• Beef Systems Short Course program: This short course is designed for new and beginning farmers and ranchers. It will cover “Fundamentals for the Business of Beef Production in Alabama.” This will take place from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. every Tuesday in May in Grant. For more information, contact Landon Marks at email@example.com or register online at www.aces.edu/ go/beef-systems-registration.
• Blount County 4-H Grows and Blount County 4-H Sweet Potato Challenge: Registration is open for both programs, which are for youth ages 9 to 18. During 4-H Grows, the summer project, youth will learn general gardening tips and techniques. Contact the office for more information.
For information on these or our many other upcoming programs, please like our Facebook pages Blount County-Alabama Extension and Blount County 4-H.