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West Virginia Can you legally sell food from home in West Virginia?

Cottage Food Law

West Virginia has one of the best cottage food laws in the country. For many years, they had very specific and restrictive laws which only allowed a few types of food items to be sold at farmers markets.

Then in 2018, they passed a new law which expanded the allowed foods list but still restricted sales to farmers markets.

And in 2019, they passed this law (SB 285) which removed almost all restrictions. West Virginians can now sell almost any type of non-PHF food from any venue within the state (including online sales and mail orders), and there is no sales limit.

In addition, the law exempts home cooks from government regulation, including permits, inspections, or prohibitions. The only time the government can step in is if a customer complains about a food borne illness.

Selling homemade pickled, acidified, or fermented foods is not allowed under this law, but those can be sold at farmers markets under the older law.

Therefore, as long as a producer is making an allowed food and following the labeling requirements, they can start their business immediately, with no extra costs involved.

Selling Where can you sell homemade food products?

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Allowed Foods What food products can you sell from home?

Prohibited Foods

Please see the Farmers Market Vendors Guide for more information about allowed foods.

You can sell acidified foods (pickled products, sauces, salsas, etc), non-standard jellies (pepper jelly), non-standard fruit butters (pumpkin butter), fermented foods, or eggs at farmers markets by using West Virginia’s older law. You must grow your own produce to use that law. If you are unsure, call the WVDA Regulatory & Environmental Affairs Division at 304-558-2227 to see if you can sell your items outside of farmers markets.

To sell honey or pet food/treats, you must register for a special permit with the WV Department of Agriculture.

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 How will your home food business be restricted?

Limitations
There is no sales limit

Labeling How do you label cottage food products?

Sample Label

Chocolate Chip Cookies

"This product was produced at a private residence that is exempt from State licensing and inspection. This product may contain allergens."


Forrager Cookie Company

123 Chewy Way, Cookietown, WV 73531


Phone: (123) 456-7890


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)


According to the law, this labeling information must be provided:

  1. On a label affixed to the package, if the homemade food item is packaged;
  2. On a label affixed to the container, if the homemade food item is offered for sale from a bulk container;
  3. On a placard displayed at the point of sale, if the homemade food item is neither packaged nor offered for sale from a bulk container;
  4. On the webpage on which the homemade food item is offered for sale, if the homemade food item is offered for sale on the Internet; or
  5. On a receipt or other document provided to the customer with the homemade food item.

If you sell honey, you must also include the net weight on the label, as well as the statement “Please do not feed to infants under 1 year of age.”

Resources Where can you find more information about this law?

Department
Agriculture
Contacts

Stacy Hammack

Organization
WV Department of Agriculture
Department
Regulatory & Environmental Affairs Division
Email
farmersmarkets@wvda.us
Telephone
(304) 558-2227
About
For general questions, farmers market vendor registration, and information about selling acidified and fermented foods outside of farmers markets.

Buddy Davidson

Organization
WV Department of Agriculture
Department
Business Development Division
Email
productlabeling@wvda.us
Telephone
304-558-2210
About
For labeling information
Law Dates
July 2009
Farmers Market Rules
June 2018
SB 375
June 2019
SB 285

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West Virginia Forum Got questions? Join the discussion

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Comments

I am wondering what the law is for making and selling dry food mixes and spice mixes online and through farm markets. Is it allowed? Do I need to rent a commercial kitchen to sell online? What type of licenses or permits are needed? Have the laws changed for 2016?

    Dear Cynthia– I’m an attorney at the Institute for Justice, a non-profit organization that works to change restrictive cottage food laws. West Virginia’s cottage foods laws are very restrictive. We’d like to change them to allow sales from home (including online), not just at community events or farmers’ markets. We also want to change the law to allow the sale of all foods, including dried foods. Our bill will be introduced this January in the legislature. If you are interested in learning more, you can email me at esmith@ij.org. Thank you! –Erica Smith

    You likely cannot sell custom cakes because sales are only allowed at farmers markets and events. The law is more intended for those selling non-custom items at a stand. In most counties, you need to register as a business before selling anything. To start a custom cake business, you’ll probably need to use a commercial kitchen: http://forrager.com/faq/#commercial

    Dear Coren– I work for the Institute for Justice, a non-profit organization that works to change restrictive cottage food laws. West Virginia’s cottage foods laws are very restrictive. We’d like to change them to allow sales from home (including online), not just at community events or farmers’ markets. Our bill will be introduced this January in the legislature. If you are interested in learning more, you can email me at esmith@ij.org. Thank you! –Erica Smith

Under direct sales, CAN we still do online sales as long as we deliver the items in person? Do our kitchens have to be inspected/approved like in some states? We need to register as a business obviously but are there any other papers we need to file?

    The health dept’s online resources aren’t specific enough about online sales, but even if they were allowed, you would need to deliver them at your booth at a farmers market or event. You can call the dept, but I would be surprised if they allowed online sales. You do not need to get your kitchen inspected, and here’s some more info about starting a business: http://forrager.com/faq/#starting

    Dear Cynthia– I’m an attorney at the Institute for Justice, a non-profit organization that works to change restrictive cottage food laws. We are currently working to change West Virginia’s law to allow sales from home (including online), not just at community events or farmers’ markets. We also want to change the law to allow the sale of all foods, including those that require refrigeration. Our bill will be introduced this January in the legislature. If you are interested in learning more, you can email me at esmith@ij.org. Thank you! –Erica Smith

    The resources for West Virginia aren’t particularly clear about whether dry goods are allowed. I’d recommend trying to contact someone in the “Contacts” section above.

    Dear Cynthia– I’m an attorney at the Institute for Justice, a non-profit organization that works to change restrictive cottage food laws. We are currently working to change West Virginia’s law to allow sales from home (including online), not just at community events or farmers’ markets. We also want to change the law to allow the sale of all foods, including spices. Our bill will be introduced this January in the legislature. If you are interested in learning more, you can email me at esmith@ij.org. Thank you! –Erica Smith

Can I sell chocolate covered candy such as nuts and pretzels and/or peanut butter filled choc. covered under the WV cottage law? If so, do I need any special kitchen requirements?

    I’m not sure if those are included. I just added Linda’s contact info above, and she should know. If they are allowed, your kitchen shouldn’t need to adhere to specialized requirements.

Under west virginia cottage law am i able to sell gifts in a jar such as soups and cookie mixes on etsy or other internet sites?

    Dear Amber– I work for the Institute for Justice, a non-profit organization that works to change restrictive cottage food laws. West Virginia’s cottage foods laws are very restrictive. We’d like to change them to allow sales from home (including online), not just at community events or farmers’ markets. Our bill will be introduced this January in the legislature. If you are interested in learning more, you can email me at esmith@ij.org. Thank you! –Erica Smith

Under cottage food laws can I sell baked goods and jellies without doing anything? If not, what is expected of me?

Thank you!

    Rebekah– I work for the Institute for Justice, a non-profit organization that works to change restrictive cottage food laws. West Virginia’s cottage foods laws are very restrictive. We’d like to change them to allow sales from home (including online), not just at community events or farmers’ markets. Our bill will be introduced this January in the legislature. If you are interested in learning more, you can email me at esmith@ij.org. Thank you! –Erica Smith

Since we are a bordering state to Virginia, I think our Cottage Law should be upgraded to their regulations. West Virginia is becoming a big Farmers Market venue and a big addition to commerce. Why not allow certified sellers offer to the public requested products especially when referring to natural products, fresh made and not having set on the shelves or in warehouses for days, weeks or months. I see the Cottage Food Law open up a venue of income for people who are struggling to have sufficient means to provide for their family’s needs due to the unemployment rate in Southern WV. Please consider this for our state. Thank You

    I’m not sure if you were directing your comments towards this site, but in case you were, I am just letting you know that this site only aggregates cottage food law info; the team behind the site does not help develop laws. Cottage food laws actually get started when someone like you takes the initiative to create a bill in a legislative session — let me know if you’re interested or want more info.

    Dear Kathy–I work for the Institute for Justice, a non-profit organization that works to change restrictive cottage food laws. West Virginia’s cottage foods law is very restrictive. We’d like to change it to allow sales from home (including online), not just at community events or farmers’ markets. We also want to allow the sale of all homemade foods, including those that need refrigeration. Our bill will be introduced this January in the legislature. If you are interested in learning more, you can email me at esmith@ij.org. Thank you! –Erica Smith

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