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Alabama Cottage Food Laws and Regulations: How to sell your homemade foods in Alabama

Alabama Cottage Food Laws, Regulations and Facts

Date of the enactment of the Alabama cottage food law: (SB 159) went into effect on June 1st, 2014.
Under the cottage food law (Alabama Senate Bill 159) that went into effect on June 1st, 2014, Alabama allows home processed foods to be sold at farmers markets, and also direct sales at other venues as well, including sales from home. You must take a food safety training course and sales are limited to $20,000 per year.

Which foods are subject to the Alabama Cottage Food law?

Foods that can be sold directly to the consumer:

  • Candies
  • Jams and jellies
  • Dried herbs
  • Dried herb mixes
  • Baked goods
  • Cakes
  • Cookies
  • Pastries
  • Doughnuts
  • Danish
  • Breads

Prohibited foods

Foods that cannot be sold directly to the consumer: (these must be made in a licensed food kitchen and are subject to the full food laws)

  • Baked goods with an ingredient that requires refrigeration, such as Custard pies, Danish with cream filling, Cakes with a whipped topping
  • Juices from fruits and vegetables
  • Milk products
  • Soft or hard cheeses
  • Pickles
  • Barbeque sauces
  • Canned fruits and vegetables
  • Garlic in oil
  • Meats in any form

If your food product does not meet the definition of a Cottage Food, you may still be able to make and sell it commercially, through a startup approach.  See this page for detailed information about selling foods that do not meet the Cottage Food definition.


  • Cottage Food Production Operation - A person operating out of his or her home who meets all of the following requirements: Definitions -Produces a baked good, a canned jam or jelly, or a dried herb or herb mix or a candy - Has an annual gross income of twenty thousand dollars ($20,000) or less from the sale of food -Sells the foods produced only - Has an annual gross income of twenty thousand dollars ($20,000) or less from the sale of food -Sells the foods produced only Definitions directly to consumers
  • Baked good - Includes cakes, breads, Danish, donuts, pastries, pies, and other items that are prepared by baking the item in Definitions an oven • A baked good does not include a potentially hazardous food item as defined by rule of the department
  • Home - A primary residence that contains a kitchen and appliances for common residential use

Labeling requirementsAlabama Cottage Food Label

Cottage Food Production Operations must label all of their food products properly, which include the following information on the label of each unit of food product offered or distributed for sale:

The Cottage Food Law requires the following on labels:

  • The product name
  •  Name of the individuals or business
  •  Address of the individual or business

Labels may need to be submitted to the local health department for approval prior to selling.

Download a free Microsoft Word template of these labels here.

Where may Cottage Food Production Operations sell the food products?

Cottage Food Products may not be sold across state lines.  In other words,  only be sold within the state. They may be sold directly to the consumer from the home where the products are produced.

Cottage food cannot be sold to or by the following:

  •  Restaurant
  •  Novelty shops
  • Grocery stores
  • Over the Internet

Other requirements

  • Training - The person operating a food business under the Cottage Food Law must attend and pass a food safety course approved by the Alabama Department of Public Health every 5 years.  The Alabama Cooperative Extension System offers a course tailored for cottage food entrepreneurs. Participants are taught food safety, with particular focus on foods prepared at home, and receive a certificate upon completion that ensures individuals are in compliance with the Cottage Food Law.
  • Annual sales limit - You cannot exceed $20,000 in sales of the food described under the Alabama Cottage Food Law.
  • File a Review form -  Complete a Review Form for their Cottage Food Operation with the local County Health Department
  • Sales tax - Home Processed products are subject to sales tax.
  • Politics as usual - an exception. Montgomery and Calhoun counties are exempted by state statute from the following requirement:
    What foods cannot be made in a home kitchen and sold at a farmers market? Low acid foods that would need to be refrigerated or otherwise be held under temperature control cannot be offered for sale.  Examples include: canned vegetables, slaws, stews, soups, sauces and any foods containing meat or other potentially hazardous ingredients


Beyond the requirements, common sense, good practices and reducing liability suggests you should do the following.

Testing of pH

​It's best to use a pH meter, properly calibrated on the day used. I use this one, which is reliable and inexpensive. And this pH meter is really good, but isn't always available.
Short-range paper pH test strips, commonly known as litmus paper, may be used instead, if the product normally has a pH of 4.0 or lower and the paper's range includes a pH of 4.6.

Record-keeping is suggested

Keep a written record of every batch of product made for sale, including:

  • ​Recipe, including procedures and ingredients
  • Amount canned and sold
  • Canning date
  • Sale dates and locations
  • Gross sales receipts
  • Results of any pH test


Although inspections are not required, you should consider doing the following:

  • ​Use clean equipment that has been effectively sanitized prior to use
  • Clean work surfaces and then sanitize with bleach water before and after use
  • Keep ingredients separate from other unprocessed foods
  • Keep household pets out of the work area
  • Keep walls and floors clean
  • Have adequate lighting
  • Keep window and door screens in good repair to keep insects out
  • Wash hands frequently while working
  • Consider annual testing of water if using a private well

Best Practices

  • Allergans:  Most state home baking acts require an "ingredient statement" and/or an "allergen listing" on the label of the bakery item for sale; but if your state does not, you should anyway. The eight major food allergens are
    • milk,
    • eggs,
    • fish,
    • crustacean shellfish,
    • tree nuts,
    • peanuts,
    • wheat and
    • soybean.
  • Cross-allergenicity: There are also ingredients available, even flours, that can cause a cross-allergenicity. The American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology explains cross-allergenicity as an allergic reaction when proteins in one substance are similar to the proteins found in another substance. For example, consumption of lupine flour may trigger an allergic reaction to peanuts, and cricket flour may trigger an allergic reaction to shellfish. Again, providing such information might be a beneficial marketing tool and help keep potential consumers safe.
  • The 2 Hour/4 Hour Rule -  Anyone wishing to make and sell refrigerated bakery items should remember to follow the "2 Hour/4 Hour Rule." This is a system that can be implemented when potentially hazardous foods are out of temperature control (temperatures greater than 45 degrees Fahrenheit) during preparation, serving or display for sale. The rule guidelines are as follows:
    • If a potentially hazardous food has been out of temperature control for 2 hours or less, then it may continue to be used or be placed back in the refrigerator.
    • If a potentially hazardous food has been out of temperature control for more than 2 hours but less than 4 hours, it needs to be used quickly or discarded.
    • If a potentially hazardous food has been out of temperature control for more than 4 hours, it must be discarded.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can a Cottage Food operator deliver their products to their customers? - Answer: Yes

More resources:

Questions? Contact Information:

For more information, call your county Extension office. Click here to look in your telephone directory under your county's name to find the number.

Phyllis Fenn, BS Standardization Officer Alabama Department of Public Health [email protected]