Any food product sold in Alabama must comply with the regulations set by the Alabama Department of Public Health. To start a food business in Alabama, start by contacting:
Division of Food, Milk, and Lodging
Food Establishment Scores Database
Alabama Department of Public Health
The RSA Tower
201 Monroe Street, Suite 1250
Montgomery, AL 36104
Phone: (334) 206-5373
Fax: (334) 206-5788
Home Based Food Business (Cottage Food Production) in Alabama
Alabama allows the production and selling of certain food products from home. Cottage food production is governed by Alabama’s Cottage Food Law SB 159 that went into effect on June 1, 2014.
Salient points of the rules governing home-based food businesses in Alabama include:
What can you sell
- A home-based food business is allowed to make and sell baked goods (cakes, breads, Danish, donuts, pastries, pies, and other items prepared by baking the item in the oven), canned jam or jelly, dried herb or herb mix, or candy.
- You are prohibited from selling “potentially hazardous food items,” such as perishable baked goods, foods with meat, sauces, salsas, juices, pickles, among others. You are not allowed to sell food that require time or temperature control required for safety, such as custard pies, Danish with cream filling, soft or hard cheeses, or milk products.
- You are limited to $20,000 of sales per year.
- While your food products are not subject to inspection by the local public health department, you have to attend and pass a food safety course approved by the health department every five years. Examples of courses that you can attend that complies with the law include the ServSafe Certification provided by Alabama Extension.
Where you can sell
- You are only allowed to sell directly to consumers, whether delivery or pickup. Allowed venues to sell include your home, events such as food sale by charitable/civic/not-for-profit organizations, roadside stands or farmers market.
- You are prohibited from selling your home-made food products on the Internet, to restaurants, grocery stores and retail stores.
- You need to label all goods produced with: (a) your business name; (b) address, and (c ) a statement that the food is not inspected by the health department.
Food Laws in Alabama
- Food Rule 420-3-22 govern the Food Establishment Sanitation regulations for food service establishments and retail food stores.
- You can find other relevant food laws in the Alabama Public Health website:
Regulations on Other Types of Food Businesses:
- If you wish to start a restaurant business, read the General Information on Starting a Restaurant Business in Alabama from Alabama Public Health website.
- If you wish to start a mobile food cart business in Alabama, read the Food Rule 2005 Appendix A Requirements by Menu and Type of Mobile Unit
For information on business registration, taxes, legal structure, and other information on starting a business, visit our How to Start a Business in Alabama
Recommended Books on Starting a Food Business:
- Good Food, Great Business: How to Take Your Artisan Food Idea from Concept to Marketplace
- Cooking Up a Business: Lessons from Food Lovers Who Turned Their Passion into a Career — and How You C an, Too
- Starting a Part-time Food Business: Everything You Need to Know to Turn Your Love for Food Into a Successful Business Without Necessarily Quitting Your Day Job
- Homemade for Sale: How to Set Up and Market a Food Business from Your Home Kitchen
- Start & Run a Home-Based Food Business: Turn your kitchen into a business. (Start and Run A)
- Starting a Food Business from Home in Arizona
- How to Start a Food Business in Texas
- Starting a Salad Dressing and Marinade Food Business
- Licenses and Permits for Your Home Business
- Starting a Herbal Tea Business