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Cottage Food Law

Alabama created a cottage food law (SB 159) in 2014. Previously, this state only allowed homemade food sales at farmers markets.

This cottage food law is relatively restrictive. It allows direct, in-person sales of many non-perishable food items. Cottage food operators must take a food safety training course and are limited to $20,000 of sales per year.

It is 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.


Delivery is allowed, but you must personally deliver your products.

Starting a cottage food business?


Top 10 Mistakes To Avoid When Starting A Cottage Food Business

(Some of them just might surprise you!)

Allowed Foods

Candied or roasted pecans are not allowed.

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 Safety Course

You must take a food safety course approved by the Alabama Department of Public Health every 5 years. The ACES provides in-person cottage food courses for $25.

Review of Label & Food Safety Class

After taking your food safety course, you must submit this form along with a sample label and your course certification.

Sales tax

Sales tax must be charged when selling at a certified farmers market, and it may be required at other venues as well. Check with your state, county, and city tax authorities to determine how much tax to charge.

You do not need a license from the health department, but you should check with your planning division to see if there are any local requirements before starting your business.

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


You can find many workplace recommendations in this food safety guidance document.


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

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Starting a cottage food business?


Top 10 Mistakes To Avoid When Starting A Cottage Food Business

(Some of them just might surprise you!)


Can somebody give me information about the business insurance that is required for a home-based business? I went to the agency where we got our home insurance and the policy for example says that a business is not allowed with this insurance. Signing a completly new contract means also way more payment for my business each month which makes it hard to survive and even start the whole thing. Please give me any information and experiences from other Cottage Food Law people. Julia

My attached garage was converted into a living space but no one lives in there presently. Can I bake and sell from the garage apartment?

    I’m not sure if you can use your garage. It probably depends on your garage and it is up to the health dept to decide, so you should contact them for more info.

Can you verify? The teacher of my cottage food certification class said “DO NOT post any prices of your baked goods on your facebook page”. I cannot find any info about this…just no internet sales. So any advertising, including prices or specials, is OK?

    I have never heard that before, nor have I seen any law to back that up, though your teacher almost certainly knows more about the law than I do. I’d recommend you clarify it with them to understand where that statement is originating from.

    Your answer is in Alabama SB 159, past June 2014. It is my understanding cottage food industries cannot sell via the internet as it must be a direct transfer of the product from the owner to customer. No middle men. Prices really have nothing to do with it. Facebook is the internet.

    I don’t think Laurie is asking about whether internet sales are allowed — they’re clearly not — but rather whether posting prices online is okay. I would have thought that a CFO could post prices on the internet without offering them for sale, but her teacher said that she can’t. I’m not sure why posting prices online would be a problem.

Hi I was wondering if Salted caramel is considered a hazardous food? I reviewed similar laws from other state & they say that it is not considered hazardous.

Can you clarify the no selling over the internet part for me? If I were to create a website for my baking business and advertise what products I offer, and I communicate back and forth with potential customers via e-mail/website to arrange for a sale, but they pay me for the goods in person when I deliver them……… Would that be legal/allowed?

    What if we were to set up a square account to accept payments? For example. If I show images of past work on my personal sites, someone local contacts me and wants more information. We discuss pricing and delivery/pick up, and agree that they would pick up the product from me, could I accept a payment in person via electronic means, or would it have to be cash/check only?

Is there a check list anywhere to make sure I have completed all necessary means to be a legal Cottage Food vendor? I keep hearing so many conflicting tasks to complete. i.e. LLC, tax ID, MAT, register business name, food safety class
If you are in Mountain Brook or Homewood do you go to them or city of Birmingham or Jefferson county?

I was very excited to learn of the Cottage Food law because we were interested in preparing food at our home and selling at conventions which are held in multiple states. Upon further reading, it sounds like the only place we can sell our food is at state sanctioned farmers market and our home. Also it must be within a certain “zone” from our home. If that is the case, it does not meet our needs. Am I interpreting this correctly? I hope I’m wrong. Is there a way we can sell in multiple states if we travel there physically?

    You can also sell at roadside stands and at events, and you shouldn’t be restricted to selling in a certain zone, but zoning laws may restrict what you can do with your business. Some states may allow you to sell there, but most probably won’t (I know that Texas won’t). To have the flexibility you’re looking for, you probably need to start a commercial food business.

Can someone explain to me why beverages, like lemonade, coffee, and tea, aren’t permitted for sale? I cannot wrap my head around this. Children have been selling lemonade in their front yards for decades (just like I did) and do not even need permission or anything, but we can’t sell something like that at a farmer’s market? What’s the catch?

    The “catch” — if you want to call it that — is that it is also illegal for kids to sell lemonade. Whenever an eight-year-old gets shut down by a letter-of-the-law policeman or health inspector, it usually makes the news. Most of the time, govt officials turn a blind eye to lemonade stands. The reason the laws exist is that theoretically, a beverage like that could pose a risk to the public health (just as tap water could), however unlikely it may be. So they regulate it to keep everyone “safe”. Also, getting a permit to sell coffee and tea at a market might be significantly easier than getting one for other foods — check with the ag dept about that.

    That’s pretty darn outrageous that they would even stop children from selling lemonade in their front yard. I did just run across an article on that in a case in Texas when I was looking for something. I mean, as long as it’s served cold on ice, what’s the big deal? It’s not like it’s got dairy in it. I honestly feel great annoyance towards the health department and its ludicrous rules and laws. A state/city will do anything to make money off of residents and the health department is so OCD about every little thing, even if it seems stupid. That’s interesting. Do you know what type of permit that might be? Thanks for all your help!

    hard to keep them at correct temp to prevent salmonella – etc. I believe is the problem – sugar in tea and lemonade. I work at a local restaurant and we make fresh coffee every hour (markers are placed on the coffee urns for reminders) and tea every 6 hours.

Could you tell me what exactly the health department inspects and how it all happens when they inspect your home kitchen for a Cottage Food establishment? According to the Cottage Food law, I don’t need a food permit. To be sure I get everything covered, are there still some permits/licenses I need? West Homewood Farmers Market does not require a business license unless you make more than $1500 per season. Thanks!

    I just reviewed this page again, and saw where most of my questions were answered. Sorry about that. Clearly, this is all new to me. Ha!

    If you adhere to this cottage food law, then your kitchen doesn’t need to be inspected. There may be other requirements beyond a business license… check with the dept that enforces zoning laws in your area, and also check with your area’s tax authority.

    So they don’t inspect your kitchen only one time before you are issued a Cottage Food permit? I’m so confused. I was under the impression that before you could establish your kitchen as a Cottage Food establishment, they had to make an inspection to be sure it was sufficient. Also, could you tell me where I can apply for a Cottage Food permit? I cannot find anything online. I am not completely sure how this all works, because I can’t seem to get my information straight between the variable sources. Correct me if I’m wrong, but in order to be a Cottage Food establishment, all I need to do is a food handler’s certification (either ServSafe or Cottage Food class), and a Cottage Food permit? I do understand that sales tax is required, but someone told me that I just need my Social Security number for that.

    There is no required inspection for cottage food establishments. The only time you’d get inspected is if someone contacted the health dept with a complaint about one of your products.

    When you complete the “review form”, I don’t believe you will actually get a permit or anything like that. It’s unlikely that the review form is available online.

    I found my answers regarding the permit and see that I don’t need a permit, but only a review form.