Alabama created a cottage food law (SB 159) in 2014. Previously, producers could only sell non-perishable homemade food at farmers markets.
In 2021, an amendment (SB 160) greatly expanded the list of allowed foods, removed the sales limit, allowed online sales, and allowed in-state shipping.
Alabama allows direct sales of almost any type of non-perishable food, and there is no sales limit. Producers cannot sell indirectly (e.g. in grocery stores, restaurants, wholesale), but they can ship their products within Alabama or hire someone to deliver for them.
Before selling, a producer needs to take a basic food safety training course and get approved by their local health department.
In addition to being able to ship your products, you can also have an “agent” (someone who works on your behalf) deliver your products.
If you want to sell acidified foods, like pickles, you must send them to an authority (like the Alabama Cooperative Extension Service) to get pH tested.
If you want to sell freeze-dried foods, you must send them to an authority (like the Alabama Cooperative Extension Service) to get tested for water activity.
You must take a food safety course, like Learn2Serve’s food handler training course, which costs $7 and can be completed online in a couple of hours.
Another option is to take ACES’s course, which is specifically tailored to cottage food producers in Alabama. You can watch the training videos for free, but the exam fee is $25.
You must get approved by your local health department before starting your business.
The applications and fees vary by county, but usually you will need to submit:
- Proof of your completed food safety training
- A sample label
- A list of the products you intend to sell
Chocolate Chip Cookies
This food may contain allergens and is not inspected by the Department of Public Health (10-pt type)
Forrager Cookie Company
123 Chewy Way, Cookietown, AL 73531
Ingredients: enriched flour (wheat flour, malted barley flour, niacin, iron, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), butter (cream, salt), semi-sweet chocolate (sugar, chocolate, cocoa butter, milkfat, soy lecithin, natural flavors), brown sugar, granulated sugar, eggs, vanilla extract (vanilla bean extract, alcohol, sugar), baking soda, salt (salt, calcium silicate)
If you don’t want to put your home address on your labels, you can use a P.O. box instead.
You can find many workplace recommendations in this food safety guidance document.
- Alabama Department of Public Health
Local Health Departments
- Alabama Cooperative Extension Service