Bill Would Expand Arizona’s Cottage Food Program

Bill Would Expand Arizona’s Cottage Food Program

By Daniel Stefanski |

A bill to expand Arizona’s Cottage Food Program is picking up steam and attracting significant bipartisan support in the state legislature.

HB 2509, sponsored by Representative Travis Grantham, deals with the sale and food preparation of cottage food. The purpose of the legislation provided by the Arizona Senate is to add “to the cottage food products exemption, food products that are potentially hazardous or require time or temperature control for safety to the extent allowed by federal law.” It also “prescribes sale and delivery requirements for cottage food products.”

The Arizona Department of Health Services (AZDHS) oversees the program. Its website states that this program “allows individuals to make homemade products that are neither potentially hazardous nor Time or Temperature Control for Safety Foods, and offer them for commercial sale.” According to AZDHS, “the Arizona State Legislature changed the law in 2011 to allow residents to produce non-potentially hazardous baked and confectionery products in their homes and offer them for commercial sale within the state. The law was amended in 2018.”

When asked for a comment by AZ Free News on why he introduced this bill and why its passage would be important for Arizonans, Representative Grantham replied, “This bill expands an existing program that has been in place since 2010. The current program would stay exactly the same, except for the expansion that we are seeking, which simply allows more food to be sold. This bill is important because: It allows home food producers (cottage food) to earn additional income in the way that best suits their needs, while keeping current health and safety mechanisms on the books; Cottage Food Producers tend to be lower-income earners using this as supplemental income, doing it as a hobby, or entrepreneurs starting their businesses before moving to a larger operation that better suits their needs.”

Grantham added “this bill does not affect home-based business regulations and all zoning requirements must still be followed.” He shared that “currently if you would like to sell homemade foods in Arizona, you have extremely limited options. You have to ensure that you are abiding by the Food Code, which ends up being very confusing for home practitioners and you can only sell things that are ‘shelf-stable.’”

In a House Regulatory Affairs Committee hearing earlier this year, Representative Kevin Payne commented in support of Grantham’s bill, saying, “people who make these cottage foods are abundantly aware of their reputation and the last thing they want to get is a bad one. They don’t want to be making food that’s poisoning people and then that gets out; they’ll be out of business in a heartbeat. So I have a lot less fear about these people making people sick than I do about actual restaurants.”

In February, HB 2509 passed the House Regulatory Committee (7-0) and the House Rules Committee (8-0). It later cleared the House chamber with a broad, bipartisan vote of 52-8. After its transmission to the Senate, it was approved by the Commerce Committee with a 6-1 vote, though it was amended.

Representatives from the Arizona Restaurant Association and the Chandler Chamber of Commerce have signaled opposition to the bill. The Arizona Department of Health Services and the County Supervisors Association of Arizona are maintaining a neutral position.

Representative Grantham is hopeful that this legislation will pass the House and be signed into law. He told AZ Free News that he believes “in the right for business owners to pursue their passions without government standing in the way, while providing consumers with the information they need to decide what is best for them.”

Daniel Stefanski is a reporter for AZ Free News. You can send him news tips using this link.