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Date of the enactment of the Virginia cottage food law: 1999
Click here for more information about this state's cottage food requirements. On July 1, 2013 an amendment to § 3.2-5130 of the Code of Virginia went into effect that expanded the types of prepared foods individuals can make and sell from their homes or at farmers markets without VDACS inspection including certain low risk foods and acidified vegetables. The original exemption included candies, jams and jellies not considered to be low-acid or acidified lowacid products and baked goods that do not require time or temperature control for safety and are produced in a private home. The home food processor must complete the application process which includes a home inspection.
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. Catering is not permitted from a home-based kitchen. If you are interested in starting a catering company, please contact the Virginia Department of Health. Products containing meat are regulated by the Office of Meat and Poultry Services.
These are the only allowed foods, Low risk foods and pickles:
What types of home-canned products are not allowed under this exemption?
You are NOT required to pay the annual $40.00 fee to the agency.
Although you are still required to comply with all applicable laws and regulations, since you are exempt from the agency's periodic inspections, you will no longer be required to pay the annual fee. If you receive a bill from VDACS requesting that you pay the annual fee, please contact the state agency at 804-786-3520 or email@example.com so that the matter can be resolved. Submit applications to the VDACS Food Safety Program. An incomplete application will cause delay in it being processed. By email (preferred): firstname.lastname@example.org By mail: PO Box 1163 Richmond, VA 23218 By fax: 804-371-7792 12. Once your application is submitted, it will be reviewed, and you will be contacted by the reviewer if there are any questions. When the application review is complete, a Food Safety Specialist will contact you to schedule your initial home kitchen inspection.
Cottage Food Production Operations must label all of their food products properly, which includes specified information on the label of each unit of food product offered or distributed for sale.
In general all processed packaged foods should also have the following on the label
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"; and
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.
Cottage Food Products may not be sold across state lines. In other words, only be sold within the state. They may be sold directly to the consumer from the home where the products are produced and at Farmer's Markets
Catering is not permitted from a home-based kitchen. If you are interested in starting a catering company, please contact the Virginia Department of Health. See Regional Contact Map (pdf) Catering Catering operations are regulated through the local health departments. VDACS does not inspect or have jurisdiction over any businesses that cater. As a home-based kitchen business, you are considered a manufacturer. Your VDACS inspection allows you to make food products at your home kitchen and sell them either directly to the end consumer (over the internet, farmer's market, festival, etc.) or sell your products to other businesses. Catering is not allowed out of the private home kitchen.
The application, home inspection, diagrams, etc, are all required folr a home food processor - only the $40 application fee is waived.
Submit applications to the VDACS Food Safety Program. An incomplete application will cause delay in it being processed.
Once your application is submitted, it will be reviewed, and you will be contacted by the reviewer if there are any questions. When the application review is complete, a Food Safety Specialist will contact you to schedule your initial home kitchen inspection.
Zoning Approval may be required. Contact your county or city's zoning office and inquire about whether you can have a food business in your home. If they will allow it, ask for written documentation confirming this. It can be in the form of letter, email, license or other. You will need that for the application.
For example, see thjis page about Arlington's cottage food zoning 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 iInspections are not required, you should consider doing the following:
Contact the VDACS Food Safety and Security Program by
pH is a measurement of acidity or alkalinity using a numerical scale between 1 and 14. A pH value of 1 is most acidic, a pH value of 7 is neutral and values above 7 are referred to as basic or alkaline.
The pH of a food product after the food acid (e.g. vinegar) ishould distributed equally throughout the product.
For example, the initial pH of the pickled cucumber that has been recently canned, will not be the same a few weeks later. It takes time for the vinegar (which is acid) to penetrate and distribute into the cucumbers. Therefore, testing the pH of only the brine (liquid) portion of a recently canned and processed product is not accurate.
The Presto Pressure
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the Ball Blue Book