Understanding Liability and Opportunities for Selling Food Under the New Montana Food Choice Act
The new Montana Local Food Choice Act (or Food Freedom Law) opens up opportunities for producers and small businesses to sell additional food products without a license. Products include:
Producers who wish to sell any of the above products should be aware of the liability risk of selling without a license, registration, or inspection. That’s why this November, in partnership with Farm Commons, AERO is hosting two free digital workshops addressing the opportunities and risks associated with the sale of food under the new Food Freedom Law. Farm Commons is the leading national resource for farmers and ranchers providing knowledge and skills needed to resolve key legal vulnerabilities. The series is designed to support producers and farmers’ market managers in understanding the new law and the steps to take against possible liability issues.
November 3, 2021, 3:00-4:00pm
This first workshop will focus on the general legal concepts surrounding liability, especially for food related incidents. We will outline when and how legal liability for a food related incident is assigned and how producers and food business owners generally manage these liabilities.
This workshop is designed to help producers manage liability and develop legal resilience regardless of whether their product is exempt from licensure under the Food Freedom Law.
November 10, 2021, 3:00-4:30pm
This second workshop focuses on the recently passed Montana Local Food Choice Act, also called the Food Freedom Law. The workshop will help producers, food manufacturers, cottage food operators and farmers’ market managers understand what is and is not permitted under the new law, clarifying the opportunities and challenges presented by the Montana Local Food Act. It will also highlight the effect of the law on traditional legal liability for a food related incident.
AERO is working with the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services- Food & Consumer Safety Section on a project to improve cottage food law understanding for producers and registered sanitarians across the state, and to assemble a working group to draft changes to the administrative rule for the cottage food exemption.
Registered cottage food operators, curious local food producers, sanitarians- registered and in training, joined us Tuesday, January 26 9am-2:30pm for a cottage food training.
Heidi Drivdahl-Noyes, Chief EcoManiac, EcoMontana
Karl Johnson, Owner & Operator, YES Compost
Heather Babineau-Z, Owner & Operator, Whole and Nourished
An interview with Gretchen Boyer, Executive Director of FarmHands Nourish and member of the Whitefish Farmers Market Organizing Committee who led the effort for Whitefish’s first zero-waste market season in 2020.
AERO, in support of growing local food economies, produced a series of technical assistance videos for cottage food operators. This series addresses topics identified in a statewide needs assessment, town halls, and interviews with cottage food operators. The first three videos cover marketing concepts and how these concepts apply to cottage food businesses, the next two videos address small business management and managing financial risk, and the final video is a tutorial specific to completing a cottage food registration application.
IF YOU WATCH ANY OF THESE VIDEOS, kindly take 1 minute to answer this quick survey. Your participation supports continued funding for this work!
Develop skills and gain knowledge that will set up your cottage food business for success. Continue to access cottage food resources after the workshop with our virtual toolkit. Recordings of workshop modules will be posted, along with any handouts.
MT DPHHS – Food & Consumer Safety Section
Find: Link to Cottage Food Statute
Cottage Food Application Fillable PDF
FAQs on Cottage Food & Honey
Find your county sanitarian’s office contact information
Montana’s Food Laws & Rules: Cottage food & farmers’ markets
Workshop Presentation Slides by Nina Heinzinger, PhD, RS/REHS, Public Health Sanitarian, Food & Consumer Safety Section
What ingredients are allowed in regular food?
Ingredients allowed in human food nearly always fall into one of the following categories*
1. Conventional food
2. Approved additives
3. Generally recognized as safe (GRAS).
Frequently Asked Questions About
GRAS for Substances Intended for
Use in Human or Animal Food: Guidance for Industry
All foods sold under the Texas Cottage Food Law must not require time or temperature control for safety (TCS), therefore the recipes sold here would qualify in Montana.
MT Cottage Food Business: How this all got started by Jan Tusick
Are you interested in starting a food business?
The network of 8 centers provides training, coaching and technical assistance, including:
Whether you are searching for local food ingredients for your products or getting the word out about your Montana food business, Abundant Montana would love to add you to our growing food system directory of over 330 listings.
Contact [email protected] to reach an Abundant Montana Outreach Coordinator to create your listing today
Small Business Development Centers http://sbdc.mt.gov/
MT Department of Agriculture
MT Department of Commerce
MT Secretary of State – Register your business https://biz.sosmt.gov/
Farm Commons Podcasts and Print materials to make legally resilient farm and food business decisions during COVID-19
Safe Face-to-Face Options:
Safe home kitchens, sampling, and sales to cottage food customers during COVID-19