People love fresh-baked cookies and bread right out of the oven. But until recently, entrepreneurs could not sell homemade food anywhere except in their own homes. A 2017 amendment to the Oklahoma Home Bakery Act allowed sales at other venues, and the Oklahoma Food Freedom Act will create even more opportunities. When the law takes effect on Nov. 1, 2021, Oklahoma will be one of the freest states in the nation for homemade food sales.
Oklahoma cottage food types
Many states regulate “cottage food,” meaning food made in a home kitchen for sale. Cottage food sales in Oklahoma are governed by the Oklahoma Food Freedom Act, which defines “homemade food products” as foods or beverages produced or packaged at a residence.
Oklahoma distinguishes between two categories: Food that is “time- or temperature-controlled for safety” and food that is not. “Time- and temperature controlled for safety” refers to perishable foods that require refrigeration to stay safe for consumption. This includes foods like dairy products. Food that is not “time- and temperature controlled for safety” refers to shelf-stable products like cookies, jams, jellies, candy and dried spices. Homemade food producers may sell both types of food in Oklahoma, but the rules differ for product delivery.
The only products not permitted for sale under the law are alcoholic beverages, unpasteurized milk, marijuana products and anything containing seafood, poultry (as defined in the federal Poultry Products Inspection Act) and meat (as defined in the Code of Federal Regulations).
Getting started in Oklahoma
Oklahoma does not require any kind of licensing or registration to sell shelf-stable homemade food. To sell homemade food that is time- or temperature-controlled for safety, producers must pass an approved food safety training course. When the Oklahoma Food Freedom Act takes effect, the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry will publish a list of approved food safety courses. One of these, which has already been announced, is the ServSafe Food Handler Training. Regardless of the category type, annual homemade food sales may not exceed $75,000.
Oklahoma cottage food venues
People may sell all homemade foods directly to consumers in Oklahoma, either in person or by remote means, including by telephone and over the internet. People may sell shelf-stable homemade foods through designated agents and third-party vendors, including grocery stores. Food that is time- or temperature-controlled for safety cannot be sold by designated agents or by third-party vendors.
Oklahoma cottage food labels
All homemade food must be labelled with the following information:
- The producer’s name and phone number.
- The physical address where the food was produced.
- A description of the food product.
- The ingredients of the food, in ascending order of proportion.
- A statement indicating the presence of any of the eight most common allergens (milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, wheat, fish, and shellfish).
- The statement: “This product was produced in a private residence that is exempt from government licensing and inspection.”
When someone other than the producer sells shelf-stable homemade food, the seller must display the following disclosure: “This product was produced in a private residence that is exempt from government licensing and inspection. This product may contain allergens.” If homemade food is packaged and distributed across state lines, it must be sold and labelled in accordance with federal law in addition to Oklahoma law.
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, especially in states with rigorous labelling requirements like Oklahoma. 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’s own 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.
Oklahoma 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 is IJ’s model homemade food legislation, which can help guide homemade food activism efforts in state legislatures 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 is a report from IJ which examines the impact of regulations on farmers, chefs, artisans, restaurateurs, food truck operators and others.
- Oklahoma Food and Cottage Food Law Group are two online communities that can help you get started navigating cottage food laws and selling homemade food in Oklahoma.
Tell your Oklahoma story
Is government violating your homemade food freedom in Oklahoma? Do you have a potential case for IJ? Get started here…
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.