How to Start a Home-Based Food Business in Arizona

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Selling homemade food in Arizona is legal, provided you follow Arizona food laws. You don't need a license or permit for selling food from home, but you do have to register with the state and possibly complete food handler training. The state Department of Health Services has the information on its website.

Non-Potentially Hazardous Food

Hazardous foods the state considers high risk for contamination or spoilage include:

  • meat
  • poultry
  • fish
  • eggs
  • milk
  • cheese
  • raw sprouts
  • custards

When you're selling homemade food in Arizona, the state specifically lists some foods as nonhazardous and acceptable:

Arizona Food Laws

Arizona food laws also exist at the county level. The Department of Health Services says that if your county requires it, you'll have to certify as a food handler or take some food-handling training before making and selling food. Even if it's not mandatory, DHS recommends taking classes so you don't make your customers sick.

Once you've completed the training, you can register with the state. The online application form asks your name, address, email and phone; the type of food you intend to make and whether you've completed any necessary food handler training. If all that checks out, you should get your registration certificate in a couple of days.

Along with local food-handling requirements, you should also check with local government about any zoning or licensing issues for home businesses. While Arizona doesn't charge sales taxes, some local governments do.

Selling Homemade Food in Arizona

Once you're registered, you're good to go. The state doesn't require any sort of kitchen inspection, so you don't have to worry about commercial kitchen requirements in Arizona. You can sell anywhere you want: at farmer's markets, through stores or restaurants or online to Arizona customers.

Arizona food laws do require you label your bread, brownies and other goods. The labels have to meet regulations by including the following:

  • Your address and contact information. If someone else registered your cottage-foods business with DHS, it'll have to be their address and information. * A list of ingredients. * A statement the food was prepared in a private home.

Even if you sell through a third party, such as a store or restaurant, your goods have to be labeled.

Handling Food Safely

Even though DHS won't inspect your kitchen, it's important to keep everything sanitary and safe. If your goods make anyone sick, that can get you in trouble, not to mention destroy your business reputation.

The surfaces you work on should be easy to clean. DHS recommends they be smooth and free of breaks, cracks, pitting, crevices and similar flaws.

Other safety guidelines include:

  • Keep garbage and food waste in easily cleanable, insect-resistant containers that don't leak or absorb liquid. * Sinks for washing equipment, utensils, food and your hands should have hot and cold water under pressure. * When washing your hands, scrub with warm water and soap for 20 seconds before rinsing. Wash after you handle food or raw products, use the restroom, take out the garbage or touch your own hair or skin. * Use utensils and non-latex gloves to minimize skin contact with food. * Keep nonemployees and pets out of the prep area. * Keep your ingredients, packaging and finished products separate from home-use kitchen items. * Clean the prep area before and after use. * Dispose of fat, oil and grease properly. Dumped into a sewer, they can clog up and cause a sewage overflow.