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Virginia

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.

Selling

Advertising online is allowed, even though internet sales are not allowed.

Honey can be sold to any venue, without restriction.

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Allowed Foods

Prohibited Foods

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.

Only "non-potentially hazardous" foods are allowed, but certain non-PHFs may not be allowed. Most foods that don't need to be refrigerated (foods without meat, cheese, etc.) are considered non-potentially hazardous. Learn more

Limitations

Limitations
There is no sales limit
Most types of products have no sales limit
Sales are limited to $3,000 per year
This $3,000 limit only applies to sales of pickles and other acidified foods

Honey producers can’t sell more than 250 gallons of honey per year.

Business

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.

Labeling

Sample Label

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 11/20/2019


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.”

Resources

Contacts

Food Safety and Security Program

Department
Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services
Email
[email protected]
Telephone
804-786-3520
Law Dates
July 2008
SB 272
July 2011
SB 1108
July 2013
HB 1852

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Starting a cottage food business?

DOWNLOAD THIS FREE GUIDE

Top 10 Mistakes To Avoid When Starting A Cottage Food Business

(Some of them just might surprise you!)

Comments

Hello! I want to seek my homemade sauces (salad dressing/pasta and rice sauce). I don’t see anything on your site that includes that in exempted items. Any guidance on that?
Thank you so much!

HI. im so confused because the other day I read this page and it had buttercream listed and said I could not use eggs, cream, or cream cheese in buttercream. But now I can’t find it. My question is, what if I use the pasteurized carton of eggs from the store for my buttercream? I’m really trying to find another recipe that actually Taste good if I can’t use patuerized egg whites :(. also, if I can’t use cream, does that mean I also can’t use milk? thank you for your help. :)

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