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cottage food community


A new cottage food law (SB 159) went into effect on June 1st, 2014. Previously, Alabama only allowed homemade food sales at farmers markets, but this law allows direct sales at other venues as well, including sales from home. Cottage food operators must take a food safety training course and are limited to $20,000 of sales per year.

It’s possible that Alabama’s previous law is still in effect, which would allow for unlimited sales of most non-perishable foods at state-sanctioned farmers markets.


All sales must be direct to the final consumer. Products may be delivered, but only the cottage food operator may deliver the product.

Allowed Foods

Prohibited Foods
Only "non-potentially hazardous" foods are allowed, but certain non-PHFs may not be allowed. Most foods that don't need to be refrigerated (foods without meat, cheese, etc.) are considered non-potentially hazardous. Learn more


Sales are limited to $20,000 per year

Sampling of homemade food is not allowed at certified farmers markets, so it is unlikely that it would be allowed at other venues.


Food handler course

You must take a basic food handler course before starting your business. One option is to take the online ServSafe food handler course for $15, but there are other nationally-accredited courses that meet this requirement. The ACES also provides in-person cottage food courses for $25.

Review form

Contact your county health department to request a review form. The form will be used to check a sample label, approve your products, and ensure that you took a food handler course.

Sales tax

Sales tax must be charged when selling at a certified farmers market. It’s possible that sales tax is required for all sales at any venue. Check with state, county, and city tax authorities to determine how much tax to charge.

Business license

Check with your county or city to determine if you need to get a business license.

No license from the health department is required, but you should check with your planning division to see if there are any local requirements.

To sell at a state sanctioned farmers market, you must get a business license and all necessary city, county, and state privilege licenses. The costs and zoning requirements vary depending on location.


Sample Label

Chocolate Chip Cookies

This food is not inspected by the Department of Public Health

Forrager Cookie Company

123 Chewy Way, Cookietown, AL 73531


Click on a county to find an ACES regional extension agent in your area

Phyllis Fenn, BS

Job Title
Standardization Officer
Alabama Department of Public Health
Law Dates
April 2009
Home Processed Rule Change
June 2014
SB 159
This page was last updated on


Not sure if I understand the social media rules. The rules state you can advertise on social media are you allowed to sale on social media?

    Although you can advertise on social media, you cannot sell on social media. All of your sales must be made in-person.

I CAN NOT believe this!!! I am a licensed food service provider–caterer and I have to have a separate building with all kinds of fire and health codes and special grease traps etc. and pay the health department for a permit–over $350
for a lic. every year, and am subject to an inspection every 3 months–and you bunch of “freeloaders’ yes that is how I see it—don’t even want to collect sales tax and pay it??? How ridiculous and unfair is this??? A wedding cake baker can make over $5000.00 a weekend while in her PJ’s with kids, dogs and cats roaming around while she is baking??? Does she even have to wear a hairnet? Who would know if she didn’t? But I have to wear one and look like a lunchroom lady with a masters degree? This is so unfair to the rest of us who do things by the book. Who is going to monitor their income limits? This is going to make ALL foods unsafe because I promise if yall can do it–I am going to do it as well and save myself all the money and trouble–who me catering–noooo–I am just baking!! What a rip off!!

    Homemakers have been doing this for years. Just because you went to college you think you should have a stronghold over it. College isn’t for everyone. This doesn’t make you any better than anyone else. Calling people freeloaders is wrong because from what your saying is they provide a service for a fee. Sounds a lot like work to me.

    So what kind of days ar you living in Kathy this is America where anyone can make an honest living if they are willing to work for it! Are you that bitter about your life that you would be upset at others good fortune from a honest days work. I don’t believe you are. Instead of being upset about this why don’t you you lobby for some better laws for catering ;Sounds to me like thats where your anger really lies and if I were you I suppose I would be upset with those laws as well… God Bless you and your Catering business.

    Cottage food operations cannot do any form of catering / serving of the products they sell. If you spend time researching the history of the cottage food industry, you will see that the fears that CFOs will make the food industry unsafe are simply unrealized. You will have a very hard time finding any health dept that has received a health complaint because of a CFO — I still haven’t heard of one anywhere in the nation.

    If you would like to run your business under the limitations of a CFO — sales from home and farmers markets, non-PHF foods only, limited sales — by all means go for it.

Excited to hear about the new cottage food law for Alabama but I’m not seeing nuts and seeds listed as approved foods to produced under the law. I would assume they are okay since they are in many jams, jellies and cookies. Can anyone help me out?

    Just because they’re allowed in a baked good doesn’t necessarily mean that they can be sold separately. I’d recommend you call your ag dept to determine if they’ll allow nuts and seeds to be produced under this law.

This is some awesome news about the Cottage Law. I have been waiting for something like this to place in Alabama. I bake and decorate wedding cakes, and now I don’t have to worry about looking over my shoulders. Thanks David for all of the information, I have learned a lot reading your posts.

    Ms. Dorothy…you still have to be careful in baking/decorating wedding cakes because there are certain types of frostings that CANNOT be used on cakes, cupcakes, etc. such as buttercream frostings, whipped frostings or any other frostings that would require refrigeration. Now I am not a cake decorator or baker of such type but I did read this and was taught this in the ServSafe class that I attended.

    Most types of frosting that do not include cream, raw egg, or cream cheese can be made without requiring refrigeration. Butter and milk should be acceptable ingredients, but I’m not sure where Alabama draws the line, so before making something borderline, you should contact the health dept.

    I recently took the Alabama Cottage Law Course (this past Saturday). Buttercream icing IS allowed but NO whipped toppings/icings allowed.

Wow, just found this info and wanted to thank you for posting/explaining it so clearly. I do have a question.
I understand that Internet sales are not allowed, but would advertising be allowable (with prices) as long as the sale is actually taking place from the home? I’m in Houston county.

I attended one of the ACES state approved courses and took the test. The first half of the course was concerned with the law and legalities, and the second half with food safety practices. We were instructed to take our course certificate, a filled out form and a copy of our product labels to register with ADPH *and* for them to approve our labels. Certificates and registration are good for five years. We were told we could sell from our homes and at Farmers Markets. Our instructor did NOT specify that the markets had to be state sanctioned.

    Thanks so much for sharing. The “state-sanctioned” specification comes directly from the law. Labeling approval, however, is nowhere in the law. It sounds like the dept’s interpretation is slightly different than the law.

Why is it that you can only sell at a state sanctioned farmer’s market when there are other farmer’s markets around ? What about local fairs and craft shows ?

    I assume it’s because the ag dept checks and regulates state-sanctioned farmers markets, which allows them to keep tabs on the home vendors. You can only sell at your house and state-sanctioned farmers markets — not other events.

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