Alabama Extension to offer course on state cottage food law in Montevallo

Published 9:53 am Tuesday, April 16, 2024

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By DONALD MOTTERN | Staff Writer

MONTEVALLO – Those interested in starting small-scale cottage food operations will soon have an opportunity to attend a class presented by the Alabama Cooperative Extension System that seeks to provide necessary education and clarifications related to Alabama’s cottage food production law.

Scheduled to take place on Friday, April 26 from 2-4 p.m., registration for the class will cost $25 and will be held at the Parnell Public Library. The class will be presented by Regional Extension Agent Angela Treadaway, who has worked with the organization in food safety and quality for nearly 38 years.

The Alabama Cottage Food Law makes provisions that allow individuals to produce certain nonhazardous foods in their homes and was first enacted in 2014 and later revised in 2021. In its updated form, the law defines a cottage food as a non-potentially hazardous food that has been prepared in a person’s home which does not require time and temperature control to ensure safety.

“The new law that came out is so different to the law that we had before,” Treadaway said. “If they want to understand the law better, they need to come to my class. They will grow an understanding of what they are doing and what they are able to actually do at home.”

Alabama Extension works hand-in-hand with the Alabama Department of Public Health to aid in the provision of classes for food safety. In that capacity, Treadaway also teaches ServSafe, a health and food safety course that is one of the pre-dominant industry standard courses providing food safety knowledge. The class on cottage food has many of the same intentions.

“It is different now what they are actually allowing people to do and there is some confusion with it,” Treadaway said. “This course is to help with that confusion—(to teach) what is allowed and what is not allowed to be done under cottage food.”

Alabama’s cottage food law excludes products that contain meat, poultry or fish. As the intention of the classification is to have someone produce the product at home and sell directly to a consumer, cottage food producers can’t sell their products to any facilities for resale such as restaurants, novelty shops, grocery stores, coffee shops and convenience stores.

“Cottage food is meant for people to make products that are supposed to be non-hazardous in their home and to be able to sell them to the public,” Treadaway said. “They have to go through a food-safety course and pass a test to get their (certification).”

After completing the class, a seller would still need to go through the health department to get approval of foods, labels, required licensing and other state requirements.

“You’ve still got to register with (the state health department) but this course helps people understand what the law is and what the recommendations are for what you can and can’t do from your home,” Treadaway said.

Treadaway also cited existing confusion around what food items are now considered applicable to cottage food and what can be produced and sold under the classification.

“Cakes, cookies, candies, jams and jellies and that kind of thing are the things that a cottage food provider would be able to do,” Treadaway said. “Those are considered non-hazardous.”

However, recent changes that updated the 2014 law have now allowed additional items such as roasted coffee beans and dried food items to also be sold where they were previously off-limits to cottage food producers.

“(Some) people want to do dried bananas or dried peaches and things like that and they can do that (now),” Treadaway said. “It does require them to go through water-testing to do that.”

Acidified food products like pickles and relishes have also been incorporated into the law to some extent where it they previously were not. Products of that nature will require PH testing and proof of standardized recipes to meet requirements.

As described by Alabama Extension, the following items are specifically not allowed under the current Alabama Cottage Food Law:

  •  Baked goods with a component that requires refrigeration, such as custard pies and cakes with a whipped topping
  •  Barbecue sauces
  •  Cheesecakes
  •  Garlic in oil mixtures
  •  Ice cream
  •  Juices from fruits or vegetables
  •  Beverages/teas from fruits or vegetables
  •  Juice drinks
  •  Meats in any form
  •  Milk products
  •  Raw cookie dough
  •  Soft or hard cheeses, including cheese sticks
  •  Vegetable pizzas

Treadaway is one of eight class leaders teaching the class for Alabama Extension and additional class opportunities will be available throughout the state. Certifications gained through the class will be valid for five years.

Those interested in the course but who may be unable to attend can also complete trainings online and can view additional trainings events through Alabama Extension at