On July 28, 2021 the Food Freedom Act (1040) took effect in Arkansas. The act allows bakers who use their home kitchens to legally sell homemade food that is not time or temperature sensitive. This category of food is called Non-Time/Temperature Control for Safety food (Non-TCS).
What is Non-TCS food?
Non-TCS food and drink are “food or drink products that do not require refrigeration to prevent the growth of disease-causing microorganisms.” Harmful bacteria do not grow easily on Non-TCS food so there is no need for refrigeration. Non-TCS foods are classified as “non-potentially hazardous” and therefore do not require an Arkansas Department of Health permit and can only be sold directly to the consumer.
What food can you make and sell?
A simple explanation is any food made with real sugars that does not need to be refrigerated such as:
- Bakery products
- Fruit butters
- Jams and jellies
- Chocolate-covered fruit and berries that are not cut
- Honey products
- And all Non-TCS products with a pH below 4.6 such as some pickles, salsas and sauces
NOTE: Bakery products, jams, jellies and fruit butter made with Splenda and similar sugar substitutes are considered potentially hazardous food and are not covered by the Arkansas Food Freedom Act.
Where can you sell your food?
The Arkansas Food Freedom act expanded where homemade food and drinks can be sold to the following locations and channels:
- From the baker's home and through online platforms
- Delivered to the customer directly or through mail
- Third-party vendors, such as a retail shop or grocery store, can sell a baker's goods. However, if selling in a retail space or restaurant that sells non-homemade food, the homemade food must be kept separate from any food made in a licensed food service establishment.
- Food sales may be made in another state if the seller complies with all applicable federal laws. Once out of the originating state, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has oversight. In this case, the producer must ensure that the product does not violate any external state or federal laws (such as ADH provisions).
- Homemade food cannot be sold to restaurants for them to use. However, products may be sold to retail stores to resell. This could be a grocery store or a restaurant with a retail sales area.
What is not covered under the law?
The Food Freedom act does not exempt bakers from possible ADH investigations, legal liabilities, or necessary business requirements (such as small business licenses, taxes, or certificates).
Still want to know more?
- For more information about what can and can’t be sold under The Food Freedom Act read the Arkansas Department of Health's "Arkansas Homemade Food Production Guidelines"
- For further information about the law including an informational webinar, check out the information provided by the University of Arkansas division of agriculture
Not from the state of Arkansas but interested in what you can legally bake?
Check out this interactive map directory of each state's “Cottage Food” laws