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Date of the enactment of the Cottage Food Act: 2013
The Act allows residents of the District of Columbia to register as a Cottage Food Business and prepare certain foods from their residential kitchens and sell them at farmers markets and public events.
Only the foods that have been approved by DC Health can be sold. However, section 103.3 and 103.4 of the D.C. Cottage Food Regulations in Title 25-K of the District of Columbia Municipal Regulations: an owner has the opportunity to request to produce, package or sell a food product that is not on the approved list if the owner can present a confirmation of the food product's pH value and water activity from any state accredited laboratory to DC Health for review and approval.
Some examples of prohibit include (but is not limited to):
If your food product does not meet the definition of a Cottage
Food, you may still be able to make and sell it commercially,
through a startup approach.
See this page for detailed information about selling foods that do
not meet the Cottage Food definition.
Cottage food products can only be prepared and packaged in a home kitchen that is located in the primary residence of the cottage food business owner as listed on the Cottage Food Business Registry Application. Cottage food products must also be stored within the kitchen in which they are approved to be made. The use of a shed or garage is not approved for the storage of finished products. You may not use a rented kitchen, church kitchen, a vacation home, other second home
Residents of the District of Columbia must register as a Cottage Food Business. The owner of a cottage food business must obtain a Cottage Food Business Registry Number by submitting a Cottage Food Business Registry Application in compliance with the DC Cottage Food Regulations prior to the business operating..
A DC Health inspector is authorized to enter your home to:
Cottage food products may be sold in food grade packaging; food grade containers are those that do not transfer toxic substances to the food which is contained in the package. Packages should be used for their intended purpose. You can check with the manufacturer of the packaging you would like to use to see if it has been approved for use as a food contact by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or NSF (NSF International, formerly the National Sanitation Foundation). Cottage food products may be sold in food grade packaging that is suitable for the product, with the following exceptions:
All packaged cottage food products are required to have the following label information on the packaging:
It is recommended that honey manufacturers/processors include this additional statement to their product label: "Honey is not recommended for infants less than twelve (12) months of age".
Here is a free Microsoft Word label template which you can download and edit. These labels are already formatted to fit on Avery Template 22820 Print-to-the-Edge Oval, Labels 2" x 3-1/3", 8 per Sheet, Glossy White. You can get the label stock online (see at right).
Depending on the size of your business, your label must comply with Federal label regulations and with the new nutritional labeling law. You can download a copy of the FDA Food Labeling Guide here it s an illustrated booklet that should answer all your questions. You may see that the sample label does not include a "nutrional panel" (calories, fat, protein, vitamins, etc.) . This is because if you sell (in the U.S. only) fewer than 10,000 units and hire fewer than 10 full-time employees yearly; you do not have to have a nutrition panel on your label, nor file a small business nutritional labeling exemption notice with the FDA.
If your Cottage Food product has tree nuts as an ingredient, you must identify which tree nut you are using. For example, if you made Nut Bread, an acceptable ingredient list would be: Ingredients: wheat flour, water, almonds, salt, yeast. The following would not be acceptable: Ingredients: flour, water, nuts, salt, yeast.
Foods prepared in residential kitchens by approved Cottage Food Businesses are permitted to be sold only at farmers markets and public events within the District of Columbia. Internet sales and wholesale are not allowed.
Title 25-K of the District of Columbia Municipal Regulations (Food Safety and Hygiene Regulations) provides the regulations that pertain to this kind of operation.
Below are documents for guidance on safely operating your Cottage Food Business. This is not a complete list and you are encouraged to learn as much as you can about safe food handling. Please review the checklist below. It contains contact information for the Office of Zoning Administration (OZA) to obtain the Home Occupancy Permit (HOP) as well as Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) if you need to have scales certified for food items sold by weight. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact the Division at [email protected].
Cottage Food Business Guidance:
DC Cottage Food Important Information
DC Cottage Food Business Regulations
DC Frequently Asked Questions
The Cottage Food Business Registry Application is below. The application must be submitted to DC Health's Processing Center located at 899 North Capitol Street NE, Washington DC 20002, with an application fee of $50. Complete applications will be reviewed within thirty (30) business days. Once your application has been reviewed and approved, a representative from the Food Safety and Hygiene Inspection Services Division will contact you to schedule your pre-operational inspection. All inspections will take place during normal business hours unless previously approved by a supervisor. To prepare for your inspection, please familiarize yourself of Subtitle K of Title 25 of the District of Columbia Municipal Regulations and view our guidance materials.
Law 23-61 removes the annual revenue cap on cottage food businesses and allows all direct sales of cottage food products. It also revises inspection requirements.
Beyond the requirements, common sense, good practices and reducing liability suggests you should do the following.
It's best to use a pH meter, properly calibrated on the day
used. I use this one, which is reliable and inexpensive.
And this pH meter is really good, but isn't always available.
Short-range paper pH test strips, commonly known as litmus paper, may be used instead, if the product normally has a pH of 4.0 or lower and the paper's range includes a pH of 4.6.
Keep a written record of every batch of product made for sale, including:
Although inspections are not required, you should consider doing the following:
Please review the checklist below. It contains contact information for the Office of Zoning Administration (OZA) to obtain the Home Occupancy Permit (HOP) as well as Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) if you need to have scales certified for food items sold by weight. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact the Division at [email protected].
DC Health Department
899 North Capitol Street, NE, Washington, DC 20002.
DC Department of Health (DC Health) at (202) 535-2180.
Eemail [email protected].
The Presto Pressure
canners are out
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Above is the
2020 version of
the Ball Blue Book