Virginia allows producers to make certain types of food from home without needing a license or inspection from the ag department. The information on this page only pertains to operations that do not get their home kitchen inspected. If you want to make more types of food or to sell in more venues, you can apply to be a home food processing operation, which is much more complicated than using the exemption described below.
To use the inspection exemption, producers have to adhere to some restrictions. For instance, a producer can only sell from farmers markets and their home, and they can only sell certain types of food. Fortunately, the law was amended in 2013 to allow many more kinds of products. A few types of products, like pickles and honey, have sales limits.
Virginia had another bill (HB 1290) that aimed to replace the current cottage food law with an exemption that would prevent any type of cottage food business from needing licensing or inspection. As happened last year (HB 135), it was too ambitious and it died in its session. These bills are part of a group’s food freedom initiative.
Advertising online is allowed, even though internet sales are not allowed.
Honey can be sold to any venue, without restriction.
Pickles and acidified vegetables must have a pH level no higher than 4.6, and only $3,000 of sales are allowed per year.
Low-acid or acidified low-acid food products (like some sugar-free jams) are not allowed.
Infused honey products are not allowed.
Honey producers can’t sell more than 250 gallons of honey per year.
You do not need a license from the ag department to start your business, though there may be other local requirements (like a business license or zoning approval) that you need to fulfill.
Most food businesses in Virginia are charged an annual $40 fee, but since you are exempt from inspection, this fee does not apply. If you get a $40 bill from the ag department, you should dispute it.
Chocolate Chip Cookies
"NOT FOR RESALE - PROCESSED AND PREPARED WITHOUT STATE INSPECTION."
Forrager Cookie Company
123 Chewy Way, Cookietown, VA 73531
Phone: (123) 456-7890
Produced on 1/27/2020
Instead of the statement above, honey producers must label their jars with this statement: “PROCESSED AND PREPARED WITHOUT STATE INSPECTION. WARNING: Do Not Feed Honey to Infants Under One Year Old.”