Food Product Liability Workshop Series: Understanding The Opportunities & Risks With Selling Local Food Under The New Montana Food Freedom Law

Free virtual two-part workshop series Nov. 3 and Nov. 10 offers education and resources for selling raw milk, poultry and home kitchen prepared foods


AERO, the Alternative Energy Resources Organization based in Helena, in collaboration with Farm Commons, is offering a free virtual two-part workshop series on Wednesdays, Nov. 3 and 10, on the opportunities and legal risks associated with selling foods under the new Montana Food Freedom Law. Pre-registration is required to attend the free online sessions.

Signed into law in April 2021, the Montana Food Freedom Law (also known as "Montana Local Food Choice Act" or SB199) is intended to expand opportunities for farmers, ranchers and food entrepreneurs to sell food directly to their neighbors and significantly expands the foods Montanans now can make at home and sell to the public without a license, permit, certification, packaging guidelines, labels, or an inspection. New foods include:

• Raw milk and dairy products

• Poultry

• Fermented foods: pickles, kimchi, and more

• Pestos, salsas, sauces, and other processed goods

• Foraged foods, like mushrooms

• Perishable baked goods

• Processed and frozen vegetables

• Prepared meals

Significant food safety issues can accompany these new foods if improperly prepared. The new law eliminates the registration/licensing review process that previously provided prospective food producers/food sellers with a comprehensive evaluation of food safety practices. Even though there are few regulatory guidelines under the new law, food producers/food sellers still remain legally liable if any foods or food products they sell cause an illness. As such, the new law could unintentionally expose producers/food sellers to increased financial and legal risk.

AERO, a long-time advocate of Montana-made foods and building consumer confidence in, and demand for, local food, is a state leader in cottage food operator education. In support of the new law's expansion of the local food sector, AERO offers these workshops to ensure that producers enter into these new opportunities with the business and legal framework to support positive outcomes and continue building consumer confidence.

Farmers market vendors and managers, farmers, ranchers, cottage food operators, registered county sanitarians, caterers, raw milk producers, value-added food producers/manufacturers, and consumers (if you eat, this means you!) will want to attend this series to learn the risks and how to minimize legal vulnerabilities when selling food under the new law. Farm Commons ( the foremost national resource on legal issues and managing risk for the agricultural community, leads the workshop series.

Workshop 1: Legal Liability and Food Related Incidents – Nov. 3, 3-4 p.m.

General overview, helpful for anyone selling food products. Addresses who is held liable in the event of an illness and how to structure your business to protect your financial livelihood.

Workshop 2: Decoding Montana Food Freedom – Nov. 10, 3-4:30 p.m.

Breaks down the new law, including the permitted foods, when and how they can be sold, and the opportunities and challenges the law presents the food seller.

To register and for more information:

AERO (Alternative Energy Resources organization) is a 501(c)(3) statewide, grassroots no-profit helping communities build a more sustainable Montana for 47 years. We focus on the sustainable agriculture and energy/local food system sphere, creating spaces where future food system leaders and inspired community models flourish.


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