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Virginia

Cottage Food Law

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.

Starting a cottage food business?

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Top 10 Mistakes To Avoid When Starting A Cottage Food Business

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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 10/24/2020


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.”

Resources

Contacts

Food Safety and Security Program

Department
Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services
Email
foodsafety@vdacs.virginia.gov
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

I would go to the Small business administration in your area, they can give you all the info, otherwise you have to call the town, city or county in which you are located for that answer. I have been in business for over 30 yrs, but i cater as well as do cakes.

    Hello Nancy,
    How are you getting around the icing situation? They are telling me that cakes are prohibited. Please Help!

I am contemplating selling Elderberry syrup for a cold and flu remedy. My recipe contains ginger, cinnamon, honey and elderberries. Do I need a license or permit? Can I ship to customers, or only pickup at home or at markets and stores?And what is the maximum I can make per year and fo I need to charge tax and get tax ID?

It says delivery is prohibited, are in-person deliveries permitted under this law? For example, if I meet the customer at their home and sell the item/take payment there (as opposed to by mail or courier)?

Help! Need advice urgently!!!!!
.. I’ve been asked to help coordinate a bake sale to help with medical bills for an injured friend.
If I tell people to limit contributions to those listed above as ok, and label their products as suggested above,
do I need to do anything else? Is this ok to do? The bake sale will be held on site of a restaurant that is donating space for this event, but products will be direct sale – proceeds going to account for the individual needing care.
Thank you.

I want to sell my wild black raspberry jam. I picked the berries along fences & country roads in my very rural town. Can I sell it at our Townwide Yard Sale?

Hey,
I am looking to just sell standard things (cupcakes, cakes, cookies, bread, some pies) and it’s made to order. So it’s no storefront or anything like that. People call or email me, I make exactly what they order. Does this require an inspection? Thanks! I just want to put up a sign and have my business name on it.

    Hi, i’m in the same boat so i hope someone answers your questions! i’m only wishing to bake to order as well.

I have been thinking of making and selling homemade yogurt from my kitchen- Can you tell me if that if prohibited- and if so- what kind of kitchen do I need. I have worked out of a church kitchen in Florida- is that possible here in Va? Also what type of license would this need?

    It’s perishable so it would fall under the potentially hazardous catagory. We can’t sell things that MUST be refrigerated.

Im in the process of starting a in home cake business under the cottage law. Do i need a business license?