INTERNET Food SALES & COTTAGE FOOD
The Maricopa County Environmental Services Department is the local agency responsible for ensuring food is prepared in a safe manner, with the required permits, for all types of food vending within Maricopa County.
Maricopa County supports local businesses and their efforts in providing safe food to county residents and its visitors. Most food sales in Maricopa County, whether on the internet or in person, require proper food permitting and inspection.
As required in the Maricopa County Environmental Health Code, Chapter 1, Regulation 4(a),
“No person shall conduct an operation or an establishment for which a permit is required without holding the necessary and valid permit to do so.”
Other than those that fall under the AZ Cottage Food Program, food that is prepared from a private residence is not inspected by Maricopa County and therefore there is no guarantee it has been prepared safely using adequate hand washing and temperature control. These measures are vital to ensure food is safe to eat and will not make anyone sick.
In the state of Arizona, individuals are allowed to commercially sell products that are not potentially hazardous and “Non-Time/temperature control for Safety Foods (TCS)”. These products include cookies, cakes, brownies, and other baked goods that do not require refrigeration. Approved registrants must abide by the Cottage Food Program’s training and labeling requirements.
Please note that products made by Cottage Food Program registrants are made in private kitchens that are NOT inspected for food safety. This may be of concern for many individuals, especially those who are susceptible to foodborne illness or who have a serious allergy to certain food products.
Cottage Food Program participants are NOT required to obtain a permit from Maricopa County. More information can be found at: Permit Exemptions. Those registered with the Cottage Food Program can serve or vend food directly to the consumer or in retail setting if they are in compliance with the Cottage Food Program requirements.
For more information, including a list of approved and not approved products, please visit: AZ Cottage Food Program.
For concerns about a registrant, you may contact: CottageFood@AZDHS.gov.
Preventing foodborne illness and health risks requires not only regulation and guidance, but also the public's assistance in supporting business operations that strive to be in compliance. If you observe food code violations or have concerns, you may discuss this with the operator and feel free to contact our department for proper follow-up.
One area of concern for consumers is the online sale of food products that may be prepared without the benefit of inspection and food safety controls. When complaints are received for the online sale of products from an unknown source, we attempt to reach out to the seller to determine if the product is made in a permitted kitchen or under the Cottage Food Program.
Oftentimes, we do not receive a response from the seller and are unable to determine where the product is made, which makes it difficult to address the complaint and ensure unsafe products from unapproved sources are removed from commerce. In these cases, we encourage consumers to evaluate the safety of the product by asking where it is made and making an informed decision before consuming a product.
If you still have questions or have a related concern, you may submit a complaint to our department by calling: (602) 506-6616 or by filing an Online Complaint Form.