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Cottage food laws are a great resource for people looking to start a small business selling food from home. If you're wondering how to make money selling food from home, a cottage food business sells homemade goods to consumers either directly or, in some states, wholesale, and allows them to earn income depending on the state they are living in.
Depending on the state someone lives in, cottage food and food and safety regulations can vary greatly. These regulations are put in place not just to protect vendors and limit liability on their behalf, but also to protect consumers known as "end" customers and ensure they understand the risks behind eating home-made foods.
Fortunately, most states only allow safe, non-hazardous foods, known as NHF, to be sold with a cottage business license. This can include baked goods, nuts, syrups, dry mixes, seasonings, herbs, carbonated beverages, and in some states canned and fermented foods.
A cottage food license might not be necessary in some states, while other states require vendors to fill out an application, earn a food and safety certification before they are allowed to sell their goods, and also label all food appropriately. Labels might include information such as:
In addition, some states will also require a kitchen inspection in order to ensure food is being prepared and handled safely.
To summarize, if you're wondering do you need a license to sell baked goods from home, the answer is more than likely yes. Penalty for selling food without a permit can be fines and the shutdown of your business.
Some states also offer laws to help home cooks sell pre-cooked food for those wondering do I need a license to sell food from my home. Fortunately, nowadays many states are lessening restrictions and allowing vendors to sell more foods than they ever thought possible. This includes states such as in Wyoming, Utah, and West Virginia! In West Virginia, there are now more relaxing guidelines as far as:
In general, it's recommended someone still register their business and apply for a WV business license, as well as pay taxes on net profits. Failure to do so can lead to fines, tax audits, even the shut down of your business and jail time.
West Virginia residents should be happy to know that this is one of the most liberal states when it comes to food freedom laws! West Virginia cottage food laws under SB285 was passed in 2019 and removed virtually all restrictions for cottage food. Prior to this, residents could only sell in farmers markets and had a limited amount of options for the food they could sell. Now, however, West Virginia allows vendors to sell their goods almost anywhere, including:
In addition, residents of West Virginia don't have to register for the food vendor license West Virginia has for commercial retailers. Instead, they are not subject to licensing, registrations, fees, or inspections unless someone complains of contracting a foodborne illness from foods sold under cottage food laws. These are foods deemed non-hazardous and that don't require refrigeration.
If vendors are interested in selling food that is potentially hazardous, such as low-acidic canned foods, fermented foods, acidified foods and pickles, they will unfortunately have to register under old cottage food laws. After registering, they cannot sell these foods to the areas listed above, and can only sell at farmers markets and community events. These farmers markets include places two or more vendors gather to sell directly to vendors in a fixed location, a farm stand on a farm that sells only farm products, or other vendors that consider themselves "Farmers markets."
Residents of West Virginia wondering how long does it take to get a cottage food license should be happy to know there is no wait time or associated fees if they want to sell only non-potentially hazardous foods. This includes foods with a pH level of 4.6 or below, and foods that do not contain absolutely any meat or poultry products.
Although they do not require registration beforehand, all products in West Virginia must be labeled with the statement "This product was produced at a private residence that is exempt from State licensing and inspection. This product may contain allergens." They must also contain an ingredient list with the first listed ingredient being the main ingredient in the product, ounces in English and metric units, the name, phone number, and address of the residential kitchen processing the food.
There is no absolutely no cap on sales, meaning you can sell as much as you'd like! There are also inspections or need to get a food safety certification, although it is recommended you take a course beforehand to understand how to prevent:
Remember, if your foods make someone sick, West Virginia food code states that can come inspect your kitchen!
West Virginia has recently expanded the amount and types of food that are allowed to be sold under their cottage food laws. Virtually all non-potentially hazardous food is allowed to be sold at a variety of places, either directly to consumers or wholesale.
Some popular foods allowed by the cottage food law in West Virginia include:
Under old West Virginia Cottage food laws, residents can register for a food license to sell potentially-hazardous foods such as:
Like most other states, West Virginia prohibits the sale of meat or poultry products, dairy and eggs without a commercial license. Similarly, there is no selling dinners out of your home, especially if dinners are cooked from raw meat or vegetables. Certain states, such as California, allow the sale of these under what are known as microkitchen laws.
Many states have different cottage food laws, caps on sales, what food is allowed, and other factors that might be different than Virginia. Below are a few.
Virginia Cottage Law
Virginia cottage food laws 2021 are more restrictive than those in West Virginia. Unlike its sister state, Virginia laws for selling food only allows foods to be sold from farmers markets and from home by a home-based food business Virginia. A food vendor license Virginia has is not required if residents want to sell non-hazardous food. If you're wondering can you sell food from your home in Virginia that is potentially hazardous, the answer is yes. However, you will need to register for a food license that requires fees and doesn't have an exemption for residential kitchen inspections. Fortunately, Virginia's new home kitchen food processing exemptions allow more foods to be considered low-risk and sold at home, including foods with a pH under 4.6.
Cottage Food License MN
In Minnesota, cottage food laws have changed since 2018. Pet foods are now allowed to be sold, and residents must obtain a food safety certification to apply for a cottage food license. Sales are also capped at $78,000.
Cottage Laws California
To apply for cottage food license California residents must choose whether they want a class A or class B cottage food permit. A class B permit allows people to sell to third-party vendors, while a class A only allows sales directly to consumers.
Cottage Food Laws New York
Residents interested in selling food from home NYC laws should know New York State is the only state that only allows hard candy and not chocolate to be sold. All foods must be prepackaged at home and properly labeled.
Cottage Food Laws Washington
A permit to sell food in Washington state is incredibly difficult to obtain, and sales are capped at $25,000 per year. Washington residents also need to pay annual renewal fees, apply for a cottage license WA has in addition to submitted a business license and business plan.
Cottage Food Laws PA
Selling food from home in PA is well worth the $35 dollar food processors fee. This is because you can cross state lines while selling food, and even sell meat jerky!
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