3-part series focuses on food processing

Home-canned vegetables are shown in this June 28, 2009 file photo. Act 1040 of 2021 allows the sale of homemade "non-time/temperature control for safety food," including some canned vegetables, although they may require pH testing. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette file photo)
Home-canned vegetables are shown in this June 28, 2009 file photo. Act 1040 of 2021 allows the sale of homemade "non-time/temperature control for safety food," including some canned vegetables, although they may require pH testing. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette file photo)

Food entrepreneurs know consumers appreciate the "magic" that turns fresh-picked strawberries into a biscuit-worthy jam, but they also know that following the rules for safe food processing is a must for creating value-added products.

In Arkansas, the Food Freedom Act allows producers to sell homemade goods to the public. The process of creating and processing raw ingredients into a value-added product has its challenges.

"Homemade food products can be extremely beneficial to both the producer and consumer due to their higher market value, and in some cases, longer shelf life," said Renee Threlfall, research scientist with the food science department in the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. "But it's important to ensure that items sold under the Arkansas Food Freedom Act are processed correctly."

Threlfall will discuss home-to-commercial production of value-added foods during the third webinar of the three-part "Plan. Produce. Profit." webinar series, "Plan. Produce. Profit: Creating and Processing Value-Added Food Products in Arkansas."

The free webinar will be at 11 a.m. Feb. 14. Registration is available at https://nationalaglawcenter.org/webinars/ppp3/.

Threlfall was recently recognized with the John W. White Outstanding Team Award: "Value-Added Food Production" at the 2024 Agriculture Awards. NALC senior staff attorney Rusty Rumley, who presented the first "Plan. Produce. Profit." webinar, is also a member of that award-winning team.

The "Plan. Produce. Profit." webinars, which are designed for Arkansas specialty crop producers, are facilitated by the National Agricultural Law Center and the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. The presentations provide needed information on how to operate within the Arkansas Food Freedom Act and are a continuation of the Plan. Produce. Profit. series from last year.

The series is funded by the Arkansas Department of Agriculture through the USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant Program.

ARKANSAS FOOD FREEDOM ACT

Act 1040 of 2021, which became known as the Arkansas Food Freedom Act, allows Arkansas residents to sell more types of homemade food and drink products in more locations than before and allows direct sales of certain homemade food and drink products that do not require time or temperature controls to remain safe. Some products, such as pickles, salsas and canned vegetables may require pH testing or pre-approved recipes.

Rumley presented the first webinar, "Liability Issues with Food Processing Under the Arkansas Food Freedom Act." A recording of the presentation is available online.

The second "Plan. Produce. Profit." webinar is titled "An Overview of Arkansas Food Freedom Act" and was presented by Jeff Jackson of the Arkansas Department of Health. A recording of the webinar is available online.

For information about the National Agricultural Law Center, visit nationalaglawcenter.org or follow @Nataglaw on X. The National Agricultural Law Center is also on Facebook and LinkedIn.

For updates on agricultural law and policy developments, subscribe free of charge to The Feed, the NALC's newsletter highlighting recent legal developments facing agriculture, which is issued twice a month.

Tru Joi Curtis is with the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.

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