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Washington

Cottage Food Law

Washington is one of the most difficult states for starting a cottage food operation.

It is very complicated to get a cottage food permit… almost as complex as setting up a commercial food business. And yet, Washington’s cottage food law is fairly limited, only allowing $25,000 of sales per year, prohibiting indirect sales (to restaurants, stores, etc.), and only allowing specific types of non-perishable foods.

In order to get a cottage food permit, an operator must take a training course, get a business license, submit an application with a very detailed business plan, have their recipes approved, and get their home inspected. The whole process costs at least $240, with an annual $230 renewal fee.

Washington’s cottage food law went into effect in the summer of 2011, but it took almost a year for the government to finalize the application process and allow their first cottage food operator in the summer of 2012. After failed attempts to improve the law in 2013 and 2014, two amendments (SB 5603 & HB 1622) passed in 2015. In 2020, an amendment (HB 2217) changed the labeling requirements to include a permit number instead of a home address. Also in 2020, a temporary policy (FS-20-0001) was enacted to allow shipping during the coronavirus pandemic.

Selling

You must display your permit when you are selling items.

Online sales must be picked up or delivered in person within the state. Shipping is not allowed.*

* In 2020, a temporary policy (FS-20-0001) was enacted to allow in-state shipping during the coronavirus pandemic. Once the governor removes the state of emergency (Proclamation 20-05), in-state shipping will no longer be allowed.

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Allowed Foods

If you want to make jams, jellies, fruit butters, or other preserves, see this guide to determine if they will be allowed.

You can only make dried coffee, tea, herbs, seasonings, and other dry mixtures by recombining commercially-produced dry ingredients.

To sell vinegars or flavored vinegars, you must use commercially-produced vinegar, and you can add flavors to it.

You products can contain a small amount of liquor (1% or less, by weight).

Here is more info about allowable and prohibited products.

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

Sales are limited to $25,000 per year

Business

Food Worker Card

You (and any employees) must get a food worker card before applying for a cottage food permit.

A card costs $10 and is valid for 2 years.

You can get a card from Do it Right, Serve it Safe, which is the only authorized online course in the state.

Business License

You need to apply for a business license. The fees for a license vary from city to city.

Cottage Food Permit

You must apply for a cottage food permit, which costs $230 and must be renewed annually.

There are a lot of application requirements, as you can see from the application packet.

Requirements include:

  • Floor plan of the kitchen
  • Processing plan
  • Packaging plan
  • Equipment list and cleaning plan
  • Sales plan
  • Child and pet management plan

 

Product List & Labels

In your application, you must list every single product (including variations) that you intend to sell.

You must also attach a copy of the label for every single product (including variations) that you intend to sell.

You can submit up to 50 master products, but there could be many variations of one master product. For instance, chocolate chip cookies and M&M cookies could be two variations of the same “master” cookie recipe.

If you want to add more products later, it is best to wait until your annual renewal (which costs $230). Otherwise, you have to pay $105 for the ag department to review them.

Your application will go on the public record. If you submit recipes with your labels (not recommended), anyone will be able to access them.

Home Inspection

Once your application has been reviewed, an inspector will come to your home to do a kitchen inspection.

If your kitchen doesn’t pass, you will need to pay $125 for another inspection.

Your kitchen will get inspected annually.

Water Supply Testing

If your home uses a private water supply (such as a private well), the water must be tested and approved within 60 days before you apply for your cottage food permit.

You will have to pay an additional fee for the test, and your water must be retested annually.

Labeling

Sample Label

Chocolate Chip Cookies

"Made in a home kitchen that has not been subject to standard inspection criteria" (11-point type)


Forrager Cookie Company

Permit #: 12345


Ingredients: enriched flour (wheat flour, malted barley flour, niacin, iron, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), butter (cream, salt), semi-sweet chocolate (sugar, chocolate, cocoa butter, milkfat, soy lecithin, natural flavors), brown sugar, granulated sugar, eggs, vanilla extract (vanilla bean extract, alcohol, sugar), baking soda, salt (salt, calcium silicate)


NET WT 2 lb 4 oz (1.02 kg)


If your product contains liquor, the label must state “This product contains liquor and the alcohol content is one percent or less of the weight of the product.”

Large cakes or bulk items may be labeled with a separate product sheet containing the required information.

For more information, see the labeling requirements (or the law).

Workplace

You must store your cottage food products and business items separately from those for personal use.

You can find more workplace requirements in the basic hygiene and production requirements sections of the laws. There are also a number of recordkeeping requirements.

Resources

Contacts

Food Safety and Consumer Services Division

Department
WA State Department of Agriculture
Email
cottagefoods@agr.wa.gov
Telephone
360-902-1876
Fax
360-902-2087
Address
PO Box 42591
Olympia, WA 98504-2591
Law Dates
July 2011
SB 5748
June 2012
WSR 16-149-060
July 2015
SB 5603
July 2015
HB 1622
June 2020
HB 2217
December 2020
FS-20-0001

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Comments

You stated that an operator must take a training course. Where can I find information about a course? Thank you!

Just wanted to say, some of this info is outdated. Look up info on the current laws, we have recently had some positive changes!

Hi,
I want to apply for the licence as a baker. There are no frostings allowed with whipped cream or cream cheese even as secondary ingredients?