State removes income cap for Alabama cottage food producers
By Katie Nichols
For the Enquirer
The Alabama Cottage Food Law recently underwent some changes. Effective as of Aug. 1, producers can now earn more than $20,000 from sales out of the home.
“Fire up the ovens and dust off the baking sheets,” said Rebecca Catalena-Lee, Alabama Cooperative Extension regional agent. “Opportunity awaits.”
Originally passed in 2014, the Alabama Cottage Food Law was updated by Alabama Senate Bill 160 over the summer.
Janet Johnson, also an Alabama Extension regional agent, said the updates are a welcome sight for Alabama cottage food producers.
“Not only will producers be able to make more money during this trying time, but they will also be able to make and sell more products from their home,” Johnson said.
According to the new law, a cottage food is a non-potentially-hazardous food that has been prepared in a person’s home that does not require time and temperature control for safety. The law excludes products that contain meat, poultry or fish. Cottage food items include the following:
- Jams, jellies and fruit preserves
- Dried and dehydrated herbs, herb mixes, vegetables and fruits
- Roasted coffee
- Dried baking mixes
- Fermented or preserved vegetables or fruit, provided the process does not result in alcohol production
Catalena-Lee said there are testing requirements for certain food items.
“In these cases, initial testing must be conducted by a third-party laboratory,” she said. “Products that require testing include dried foods, fermented foods and acidified foods.”
Alabama Extension food safety and quality agents can assist clients with these tests.
The law revisions impose additional labeling requirements. To be in compliance, labels must include the following:
- 10-point font size type minimum
- Common name of the food
- Name and home or P.O. Box address of the producer
- A statement indicating the food is not inspected by the state or local health department
- A list of ingredients and sub-ingredients in descending order of predominance
- A disclaimer that the food might contain allergens
Producers must sell directly to consumers within the state, whether that be in-person, by phone or online; however, Johnson said there are now more options for delivery under the new law.
“The new law allows delivery by mail, through an agent of the producer or directly to the consumer within the state of Alabama,” she said.
The ACES food safety and quality team will update current trainings to include information about the revised Cottage Food Law. The team will remove current trainings from the Alabama Extension website Nov. 12 to make these revisions, and a revised training will roll out in early 2022.
The Alabama Extension food safety and quality team members will teach the new trainings virtually.
Catalena-Lee and Johnson said as with any new law, producers will have many questions. For assistance, interested individuals can contact their local Extension office or a nearby food safety agent. They can also find more about the Cottage Food Law and training by visiting www.aces.edu/go/cottagefoodbusiness.