Alabama is one of the few states that allows food that is prepared in a home kitchen to be sold to the public, but the state has very specific guidelines about how you must go about selling your baked goods. Though there are barriers, entrepreneurs that own or want to start a home-based bakery in Alabama are lucky in that they can actually profit from the food they sell, and the money does not have to go to a nonprofit organization. Home bakery businesses are legal in Alabama, provided they follow several key regulations.
Home bakeries can sell what the Alabama Department of Public Health deems to be “not potentially hazardous” food, which includes the following: brownies, cookies, cupcakes, cakes, baked bread and rolls, fruit pies with a double crust, candy, fudge, peanut brittle, spices and herbs, popcorn, caramel corn, jams, jellies, preserves, marmalade and relish. Keep in mind that you cannot sell pickled or home processed produce. This means that selling jars of orange marmalade is allowed, but selling pickled peppers is not.
The venues where you can sell food produced in your Alabama home bakery are limited to farmers markets approved by the Alabama Farmers Market Authority and the grounds of a nonprofit, religious or civic event. For instance, your cookies could be sold at a church bake sale or a cakewalk held on a college campus by your nonprofit sorority. But if you wanted to set up shop at a mall food court, that would not be allowed. You should also be aware that you cannot sell your home baked food via the Internet in Alabama.
Since Alabama home bakeries are exempted from being considered a food establishment, they are not permitted or inspected. In other words, there are no special food production licenses you must obtain to sell your home baked goods at a farmers market or charitable event. However, when selling at a farmers market, you must ensure your food has a label that informs customers the product was made in an unregulated kitchen. As an alternative to placing labels on each food item, you can place a clear, legible sign at your booth stating the same.
While you can sell your home baked goods at state-sanctioned farmers markets, you cannot do the following: hand out business cards or promotional literature, such as brochures and menus; take special orders from customers or deliver any food to customers. Basically, you can only sell what you bring to the farmers market, cannot promote your home bakery as a business at the farmer's market and cannot sell food off the premises of the farmers market. Even though you cannot advertise at a farmers market, you can still set up a promotional website, blog or social networking accounts to let your customers know where you'll be vending and what you'll be selling on any particular day.