All across the United States, Americans are making food at home to sell in their communities. Together, they form a small but growing industry—the homemade or “cottage food” industry. The movement fits within a larger trend toward healthy eating and responsible sourcing, as consumers take greater interest in where their food comes from and who makes it. Arkansas has allowed cottage food sales since 2011, when the state adopted rules to allow direct, in-person sales of nonperishable homemade foods that do not require refrigeration. The law was amended in 2017, again in 2019 and further expanded in 2021. Now Arkansas has one of the country’s best laws for selling homemade food.
|Grades For Homemade Food Laws||Arkansas|
|Food Categories Grade||C-|
|Sales and Venue Restrictions Grade||A+|
|Regulatory Burdens Grade||A|
Arkansas cottage food types
|What Shelf-Stable Foods Can I Sell in Arkansas?||No restrictions|
|Can I Sell Refrigerated Baked Goods in Arkansas?||No|
|Can I Sell Meat in Arkansas?||No|
|Can I Sell Acidified or Pickled Foods in Arkansas?||Yes|
|Can I Sell Low-Acid Canned Goods in Arkansas?||No|
|Can I Sell Fermented Foods in Arkansas?||No|
Many states regulate “cottage food,” meaning food made in home kitchens for sale. Arkansas cottage food producers may sell foods that do not require “time or temperature control for safety.” Examples include baked goods, candies, jams and jellies that use real sugars, and whole, uncut fresh fruits and vegetables. Arkansas cottage food producers also may sell pickles and some salsas, sauces and acidified or fermented beverages, depending on the pH acidity levels. Arkansas cottage food producers also may sell homemade maple syrup, sorghum and honey. Arkansas cottage food producers may not sell meat, poultry, seafood, wild game, dairy, raw seed sprouts, cut leafy greens, cut or sliced fresh tomatoes, cut or sliced melons, or garlic-in-oil mixtures. The Arkansas Department of Health provides additional guidelines…
Arkansas cottage food venues
|Sales and Venue Restrictions||Arkansas|
|Where Can I Sell Homemade Food Direct to Consumers in Arkansas?||No restrictions|
|Can I Sell Homemade Food to Retail Outlets Like Restaurants and Grocery Stores?||Yes|
Arkansas cottage food producers are free to sell their products in a wide array of venues. Direct sales to “informed consumers” may occur in-person, by telephone or online by the cottage food producer or a designated agent. Arkansas cottage food producers also may use third-party vendors, including retail shops and grocery stores. The law specifically allows sales in other states if the seller complies with all federal laws. Product delivery can be by the producer, designated agent, third-party vendor or third-party mail carrier.
Getting started in Arkansas
|Inspections Required Before Starting||No|
|Are Local Ordinances Preempted or Overridden?||Yes|
|License, Permit or Registration Required||No|
|Recipe Approval or Lab Testing Required||Only for acidified or pickled foods.|
|Food Handler Training Required||No|
Getting started as a homemade food business in Arkansas is easy. The state does not require any permit, training or home inspection for Arkansas cottage food producers.
Arkansas cottage food labeling
Arkansas cottage food producers must put an individual label on each product, clearly stating the production date, the name, address and telephone number of the producer, the product name, ingredients in descending order of predominance, and the following statement: “This product was produced in a private residence that is exempt from state licensing and inspection. This product may contain allergens.” Arkansas cottage food producers who do not wish to disclose their contact information for safety reasons may request an identification number from the Arkansas Department of Agriculture to be used instead of a home address and telephone number.
Arkansas cottage food facts
Myths about cottage food abound. Here are the facts:
- Cottage food is safe. Critics who talk about the risk of food-borne illness give hypothetical examples of what could go wrong because real-world cases are rare or nonexistent.
- Cottage food is local. When neighbors trade with neighbors, money stays in the local economy.
- Cottage food is transparent. People who buy from a cottage food producer know what they get. If they have questions about ingredients, sourcing or safety, they can ask.
- Cottage food creates jobs. Many homemade food producers use their income to provide for their families. Others seek a secondary or supplemental income.
- Cottage food empowers women. IJ cottage food research shows that most cottage food producers are women, and many live in rural areas with limited economic opportunity.
- Cottage food expands consumer choice. Some stores simply don’t sell what you want. This is especially true if you have a gluten-free, peanut-free, halal, kosher or vegan diet. Cottage food fills market gaps, giving consumers more options.
Arkansas cottage food resources
As part of its Food Freedom Initiative, the Institute for Justice provides a variety of resources for home bakers and other food entrepreneurs. These include:
- Model Food Freedom Act from the Institute for Justice guides activism efforts at state capitols nationwide.
- Flour Power: How Cottage Food Entrepreneurs Are Using Their Home Kitchens to Become Their Own Bosses surveys 775 cottage food producers in 22 states about what their businesses mean to them.
- Ready to Roll highlights nine lessons from the Institute for Justice’s cottage food victory in Wisconsin.
- The Attack on Food Freedom examines the impact of regulations on farmers, chefs, artisans, restaurateurs, food truck operators and others.
Tell your Arkansas story
Is government violating your homemade food freedom in Arkansas? Do you have a potential case for IJ? Get started here…
Support Arkansas legislation
Help expand cottage food laws in Arkansas by teaming with the Institute for Justice. Send an email with your name, background information and availability to get started…
Defending homemade food freedom nationwide
People have a right to earn an honest living without arbitrary and excessive government interference. Since 2013, the Institute for Justice has defended home bakers and chefs as part of its Food Freedom Initiative. Read about IJ’s nationwide food freedom advocacy…
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All information, content, and materials available on this site are for general informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Statutes, regulations, and processes are subject to change at any time, and specific facts and circumstances could alter how they are applied. If you have questions about the regulation of cottage foods in your jurisdiction, we recommend consulting a lawyer who can help you navigate the process.