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FAQs About Arizona Cottage Food Requirements - Frequently Asked Questions

Arizona Cottage Food Laws and Regs: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

The state of Arizona published the following answers to frequently asked questions about cottage foods

Program Registration

What do I need before I register for the Cottage Food Program?

To register, you must complete a Food Handler Training course. Some counties issue a county-specific food handler card and some only require you to take a food handler training course online. Here is a list of online training certificate programs accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).

I have registered for the Cottage Food Program but did not receive an email confirming my registration. How do I know if I have been successfully registered into the program?

The Cottage Food Program does not send out automatic confirmation emails. All registrants will either receive an email with an attached certificate of registration, or an email listing the additional information required to complete the registration process. If you do not receive an email within 4 business days after submitting the registration form, please check your junk mail folder, then contact the program at [email protected]

My home kitchen is too small to use for preparing my Cottage Food items. Can I make my products somewhere else?

No, all Cottage Food items prepared by a registrant of the program must be prepared at the registrant's home.

Our developmentally disabled group home wants to make and sell muffins. Do we need to do anything differently?

In this situation, at least one staff person participating in the preparation of the cottage food items must have food handler training. This person should also email [email protected], letting the Arizona state program staff know they are registering as part of a developmentally disabled group home. The label on the product must also state the food item was prepared in a facility for developmentally disabled individuals.

Food Production

Arizona Requirements for Jams and Jellies

 

What types of food items are considered potentially hazardous?

Food is considered potentially hazardous if it contains moisture (usually regarded as a water activity greater than 0.85), contains protein, or is neutral to slightly acidic (typically a pH greater than 4.36). Some examples of potentially hazardous foods are:

  • Meat, Poultry, Fish
  • Shellfish and Crustaceans
  • Eggs
  • Milk and dairy products
  • Baked potatoes
  • Heat-treated plant food (cooked rice, beans, or vegetables)
  • Certain synthetic ingredients
  • Mushrooms, raw sprouts
  • Tofu and soy protein foods
  • Untreated garlic and oil mixtures
  • Custards, puddings, cakes with custard fillings, meringues, cheese cakes, pumpkin, cream or custard pies and otherdesserts containing ingredients of animal origin, should be assumed to be potentially hazardous

Please note that although eggs, milk, and other dairy products are considered potentially hazardous, they are allowed to be used as ingredients within the dough or batter of baked goods (such as breads, cookies, and cakes).

Potentially Hazardous Foods as defined in the Arizona Food Code means:

  • (a) "Potentially hazardous food" means a FOOD that is natural or synthetic and that requires temperature control because it is in a form capable of supporting:
    • (i) The rapid and progressive growth of infectious or toxigenic microorganisms;
    • (ii) The growth and toxin production of Clostridium botulinum; or
    • (iii) In raw shell eggs, the growth of Salmonella Enteritidis.
  • (b) "Potentially hazardous food" includes an animal FOOD (a FOOD of animal origin) that is raw or heat-treated; a FOOD of plant origin that is heat-treated or consists of raw seed sprouts; cut melons; and garlic-in-oil mixtures that are not modified in a way that results in mixtures that do not support growth as specified under Subparagraph (a) of this definition.
  • (c) "Potentially hazardous food" does not include:
    • (i) An air-cooled hard-boiled egg with shell intact;
    • (ii) A FOOD with an aw value of 0.85 or less;
    • (iii) A FOOD with a pH level of 4.6 or below when measured at 24°C (75°F);
    • (iv) A FOOD, in an unopened HERMETICALLY SEALED CONTAINER, that is commercially processed to achieve and maintain commercial sterility under conditions of non-refrigerated storage and distribution;
    • (v) A FOOD for which laboratory evidence demonstrates that the rapid and progressive growth of infectious or toxigenic microorganisms or the growth of S. Enteritidis in eggs or C. botulinum cannot occur, such as a FOOD that has an aw and a pH that are above the levels specified under Subparagraphs (c)(ii) and (iii) of this definition and that may contain a preservative, other barrier to the growth of microorganisms, or a combination of barriers that inhibit the growth of microorganisms; or
    • (vi) A FOOD that does not support the growth of microorganisms as specified under Subparagraph (a) of this definition even though the FOOD may contain an infectious or toxigenic microorganism or chemical or physical contaminant at a level sufficient to cause illness.

Notes:

 Water activity or "aw" is aspect in food safety. Food scientists use water activity to formulate products that are shelf stable. If a product is kept below a certain water activity, then mold growth and some bacteria is inhibited. This results in a longer shelf-life.
 pH measures how acidic or basic a solution is. Pure water is said to be neutral, with a pH close to 7.0 at 25°C (77°F). Solutions with a pH less than 7 are said to be acidic and solutions with a pH greater than 7 are basic or alkaline. pH measurements are important in food safety.Arizona cottage foods label example

Do I need to have a label with my product?

Yes. Detailed Arizona Label requirements and a downloadable label format to customize can be found here.

Will I need an inspection of my home kitchen?

No, an inspection is not required, though we strongly suggest you follow the Arizona state production guidelines to reduce the chance of spreading foodborne illness to your customers.

Can I make and sell dog treats or pet food?

No, the Cottage Food law does not cover dog treats or pet food. Animal food is considered commercial feed and is regulated by the Arizona Department of Agriculture.

Samples and Selling Goods

Can I give away samples of my Cottage Food items?

Yes, but each sample must be packaged and labeled as required in the labeling guidelines. More detailed Arizona Label requirements and a downloadable label format to customize can be found here.

I want to sell brownies at a local store, how do I do this under the new law?

Take a food handler training course and then register online with the Cottage Food Program. After you receive your certificate of registration through your email, follow the guidelines for developing a package label, and start making your product. As long as your product is labeled appropriately, it can be sold in a retail food establishment within Arizona.

The location that you want to sell at must 1) allow you to sell your goods in their retail food establishment and 2) ensure that the customer is notified that the product was made in a private home.

Example: You sell whole fruit pies to Restaurant ABC and provide the appropriate label. If Restaurant ABC sells slices of that pie to their customers, they must notify the customer that it was made in a private home.

Can I sell my Cottage Food items online or outside of Arizona?

You can sell your products online but only within the borders of Arizona. Because the Cottage Food Program is specific to Arizona, it does not cover interstate commerce. Interstate commerce is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA); however, although the FDA does not require home-based businesses to register with them, you are still required to comply with the applicable regulatory requirements, specifically the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Title 21, Part 110, which does not allow the home kitchen to be used to manufacture food products.

If you attempt to sell across state lines, you run the risk of having your goods embargoed by the State or County health departments outside of Arizona.

I want to expand my list of products to potentially hazardous foods. How do I do that?

Potentially hazardous food products fall under retail food regulatory oversight, which is carried out by the Environmental Health division of your county's health department. Your products would need to be prepared in a licensed and inspected commercial kitchen; please contact your county's environmental health department to obtain the necessary license.

Do I need any additional licensing to sell my goods?

Once you have your food handler training and your certificate of registration, you may begin selling your goods. However, we do suggest that you contact the following people on the county and municipality level:

  1. Assessor's Office (for questions about business-related property taxes)
  2. Planning & Zoning Office (for questions about zoning restrictions on home-based businesses)
  3. City Clerk (for questions on local business license requirements)

You may also want to contact your insurance company to determine the impact (if any) of a home-based business on homeowner's liability.

Do I have to pay taxes?

Depending on your business structure and your geographical location, the taxes that you have to pay will differ. For example, food intended for home consumption is tax-exempt on the state level, but some cities charge tax on retail sales of food. For questions about your individual income tax, please contact the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). For questions about transaction privilege tax (sales tax), please contact the Arizona Department of Revenue.

How do I start a small business?

The Arizona Commerce Authority (ACA) Small Business Services division has an interactive "Checklist Program to Start, Operate, and Grow a Business in Arizona" which provides quick answers to commonly asked questions about business licensing, registration, assistance, and resources. Visit the ACA Small Business Services' web page to access the step-by-step checklist that will guide you through the basics of starting a small business. Your customized checklist provides contact information and links to many of the forms you may need.

What happens if I don't follow the rules?

When you follow the rules and regulations of the Cottage Food Program, you have the freedom to make approved food products in your home kitchen, sell them, and grow your small business without inspections or fees. When you break the rules, you lose these benefits. You would become an illegal food establishment, subject to fines.

What do I do if I know another Cottage Food registrant is not following the rules?

You have multiple options in this situation:

  1. You can tell them what the rules are. They may be unwittingly breaking the rules, and might appreciate your help in keeping their customers safe.
  2. You can reach out to us at [email protected] to let us know, and we can reach out to the registrant and help them to comply.


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