Arizona has one of the most successful cottage food programs of any state, with over 6,100 businesses registered as of May 2017. This success is in large part because Arizona has a very good cottage food law, and it continually gets supported and promoted by the health department. They have an excellent website that explains their cottage food law, and they even created a video to educate people about it.
Although this law is very flexible, it only allows producers to sell baked or confectionary goods. Therefore, some commonly allowed items in other states, like jams and jellies, are not allowed in Arizona. Otherwise, producers are fairly unrestricted: they can sell at any venue within the state, there is no sales limit, and getting started is relatively simple. The online registration process is very easy (and free), and most producers also need to get a food handler card before starting their business.
About half of these registered businesses are in Maricopa County, and that is the only county that restricts these operations from selling to food establishments, like retail stores and restaurants. However, in 2014, they amended some of their ordinances to loosen the restrictions.
Unlike all other states, Arizona’s law specifically caters to facilities for developmentally disabled individuals. A facility can use the law to allow their residents to make food products for sale, without them needing to go through individual training or licensing.
Maricopa county used to disallow the sale of homemade food at food establishments (coffee shops, restaurants, etc), but as of mid-2014, they started allowing some of these sales. You should contact their environmental health department to learn more.
All “baked” or “confectionary” non-potentially hazardous foods (non-PHFs) are allowed. In addition to the above, candied nuts are also allowed. Frostings cannot contain any dairy ingredients (learn more here). Chocolate-covered strawberries (as well as any other non-PHF dipped in chocolate) are approved. If you want to produce a baked or confectionary food that is not allowed, but that you believe to be a non-PHF, you can get it tested in a lab and submit the results to the health department for consideration. To sell pet food or pet treats, you need to contact the Department of Agriculture, Environmental Services Division.
Before starting your business, you must register online with the health department.
Most counties require a food handler card, but some do not. If it’s required, you must get a food handler card from your county before starting your business. The process for each county is different, and this page has information for specific counties (you can also check this helpful map). Generally, the food handler courses are $10 – $20, and that usually covers a period of 1 – 3 years. Some counties split the costs, charging $10 for the course and $5 for the card. There are special rules in place that allow food production in facilities for developmentally disabled individuals. In this case, only the supervisor overseeing the production needs to get the food handler card.
When you start a business, there are many government departments that you may need to contact. Please see Page 2 of this newsletter for a list of these departments.
Chocolate Chip Cookies
The label must say something about it being made in a private home
Forrager Cookie Company
123 Chewy Way, Cookietown, AZ 73531
Phone: (123) 456-7890
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)
You may optionally include an email address instead of a phone number. If applicable, the label must state that it was made by individuals with developmental disabilities. Here is some more information about labeling.
Here is a list of production guidelines.