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Washington State Cottage Food Laws and Regulations: How to sell your homemade foods in Washington State
Washington State Cottage Food Laws, Regulations and Facts
Date of the enactment of the Washington State cottage food law:
2011. In 2016, changes were made to the Cottage Food Operation Rules
that included expanding the type of products allowed, increasing the
sales limit, and allowing for rolling permit expirations. Under the cottage food law, there are certain types of low risk food
products that may be produced and sold out of your home kitchen with
no inspection or licensing requirements. Products sold with the
"Cottage Food Permit" must be considered "low risk" and can only be
sold directly to the end consumer at places such as farmers markets,
farm stands and seasonal events (e.g., harvest festivals) or through
Which foods are subject to the Washington State Cottage Food law?
Any non-potentially hazardous products (as determined by WSDA) that
are baked, fried, or cooked on a stovetop or other electronic device
designed for cooking food are allowed, such as:
- Low risk baked or fried products that are cooked in an oven,
on a stove top, or in an electric device designed for cooking
food, including: Loaf breads, rolls, biscuits, quick breads, muffins;
- Cereals, trail mixes, or granola;
- Cakes; including celebration cakes such as birthday, anniversary, and
Pies (except custard style, pies with fresh unbaked fruit, and
pies requiring refrigeration after baking);
- Sweet breads made with fresh fruit or vegetables are allowed
as long as the fruit or vegetables are incorporated into the
batter and oven-baked.
- All frostings or glazes must have a cook step or be made
with ingredients (such as a large amount of sugar) that when
combined are stable at room temperature and won't spoil.
- Cookies or
- Stove top candies such as fudge, peanut brittle,
caramels, taffy, marshmallows, etc.;
- Molded chocolates and
products dipped or coated in chocolate;
- Donuts, tortillas, pizelles, krumkake, kale chips and similar products.
- Potato chips, kale chips, etc;
- Cereals, trail mixes and granola;
- Nuts or nut
- Snack mixes;
- Some frostings;
- Standardized jams, jellies, preserves, and fruit butters are
allowed. However, the Cottage Food Operation Permit specifies
that they must be made with low risk recipes, with sugar and
only certain types of fruit.
This page has much more information for jams, jellies, preserves
and fruit butters in Washington State
- Recombining and packaging of dry herbs, seasonings, and
mixtures (e.g., dry soup, teas, coffees, spices, seasonings)
- Vinegar and flavored vinegars are allowed.
- Candies cooked on a stove top or in a microwave (temperature
monitoring with candy thermometer is required).
- Molded candies and chocolates;
- Products dipped or coated with candy or chocolate coatings;
- Fudge or Fudge-like candies; Caramels; Nut Brittles; and
Taffy and marshmallow-like candies;
- Jams, jellies, preserves and fruit butters (made according
to the standards set by FDA in 21 C.F.R 150.)
- Recombining or packaging of dry herbs, seasoning and
mixtures that are obtained from approved sources, Including
teas, bread mixes, soup mixes and dip mixes
- Small batch roasted coffee beans (The roaster cannot be
commercial size and generally must fit on a kitchen countertop)
Food products that are NOT allowed as Cottage Foods in
Products not allowed under the Cottage Food Permit are
- Fresh or dried meat or meat products including jerky;
- Fresh or dried poultry or poultry products;
- Canned fruits,
vegetables, vegetable butters, salsas, etc.;
- Fish or shellfish
- Canned pickled products such as corn relish,
- Raw seed sprouts;
- Baked goods which
require any type of refrigeration such as cream, custard or
meringue pies and cakes or pastries with cream or cream cheese
fillings, fresh fruit fillings or garnishes, glazes or frostings
with low sugar content, cream, or uncooked eggs;
- Milk and
dairy products including hard, soft and cottage cheeses and
- Cut fresh fruits or vegetables;
- Food products made
from cut fresh fruits or vegetables;
- Food products made with
cooked vegetable products;
- Garlic in oil mixtures;
made from fresh fruits or vegetables;
- Ice or ice products;
Barbeque sauces, ketchups, or mustards; and
breads with vegetables or cheeses.
- Products made with meat, poultry or fish products
- Food products not for human consumption such as dog treats
If your food product does not meet the definition of a Cottage
Don't give up. You may still be able to make and sell it commercially,
through a startup approach.
First, you may be able to rent space in a local licensed commercial kitchen.
Second, if that doesn't work, you may be able to get a co-packer to make the food for you.
See this page for detailed information about selling foods that do
not meet the Cottage Food definition
- Cottage Food Operations or CFO is
defined as "a person who produces cottage food products only in
the home kitchen of that person's primary domestic residence in
Washington and only for sale directly to the consumer."
- Cottage Food Products In Washington,
"cottage food products" are "non-potentially hazardous baked
goods, jams, jellies, preserves, and fruit butters as well as
other identified non-potentially hazardous products." In
general, non-potentially hazardous foods do not need to be
refrigerated to prevent bacterial growth that can make people
- "Home Kitchen" is a "kitchen primarily
intended for use by the residents of a home. It may contain one
or more stoves or ovens, which may be a double oven, designed
for residential use."
- "Domestic residence" is a "single-family
dwelling or an area within a rental unit where a single person
or family actually resides. A domestic residence does not
include: (a) A group or communal residential setting within any
type of structure; or (b) An outbuilding, shed, barn, or other
- Potentially Hazardous Foods are those
"requiring temperature control for safety because they are
capable of supporting the rapid growth of pathogenic or
toxigenic microorganisms, or the growth and toxin production of
Products that are produced and sold with the Cottage Food
Operation Permit must include the following information on their
- Name of Cottage Food Operation.
- Physical address of
Cottage Food Operation.
- Product name.
- Ingredient list,
including a break down to the smallest sub-ingredients.
Identification of any allergens (e.g., wheat, eggs, peanuts,
soybeans, tree nuts, fish, and crustacean shellfish).
or volume in U.S. measures.
- The statement: "Made in a home
kitchen that has not been subject to standard inspection
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).
Where may Cottage Food Production Operations sell the food products?
Cottage Food products may be sold only to the consumer through
direct sales from your home, at farmers markets, craft fairs and
other public venues. Retail sales at
stores and restaurants are not allowed. Cottage Food products
cannot be sold to wholesalers,
brokers and distributors; sales outside the state are prohibited.
While you can advertise your products on the Internet, and take
orders and money over the Internet, you cannot ship products by mail or
a courier service to consumers. Product delivery must be directly from
the producer to the actual customer in a person-toperson transaction by
the Cottage Food Permit holder within the state of Washington. For
example, a cottage food operator can sell their cottage food products
online and accept payment online, but pick-up must occur at either the
cottage food operator's home OR the cottage food operator may deliver to
the end consumer.
If you wish to wholesale or sell through a third
party, you will need to acquire a WSDA Food Processor's License.
may not be sold across state lines. In other words, only be
sold within the state.
Summary: Someone with a Cottage Food Permit can sell
up to $25,000 worth of food in direct sales from:
• Your home
• Your farm stand
• Farmers markets
• Over the internet (but delivered in person at your home
or the customers)
Products you advertise for purchase must be
listed on your Cottage Food Operations Permit issued by the WSDA.
- The fee is $230 (2019
it is for a first time application
a permit renewal.
- Cottage food operations may sell up to $25,000 of their
cottage food products each year with the Cottage Food Operations
- All cottage food products sold with the Cottage Food
Operations Permit must be sold directly to the end consumer by
the permitted Cottage Food Operator. Cottage food products
cannot be sold to restaurants, grocery stores, coffee shops,
bakeries, or wholesale to any other business.
- Food worker card -
Get the Washington State food worker card details here.
Overview of the application process
Washington State's Agriculture Department has the following pages to
help with the application process:
Washington State Cottage Food application packet here.
If there link doesn't work (hey, it's the government - the link
frequently stops working, then use this
application packet link for a
copy of April 2020
version of the packet.
This page currently has the complete step-by-step process.
There are three specific requirements that must be met before you
can get your Cottage Food Operation Permit. Copies or documentation
of these tests or licenses is required to be submitted with your
- Water Testing If you are on City,
Community or other Municipal Water Systems you do not need to
have your water tested, but you do need to submit a copy of a
recent water bill at the cottage food address. If you are on a
private water supply you will need to have the supply tested at
least 60 days prior to permitting and at least annually
thereafter. You must submit a copy of the test and written
report that demonstrate the water supply is potable. Check with
your local county planning or health department for more
- Food Worker Card Any person who will
be working in your Cottage Food Operation must apply and receive
their Food Worker Card (also known through as a Food Handlers
Permit). This is available through your local county health
jurisdiction or online at
www.foodworkercard.wa.gov . For more information, please see
the Washington State Department of Health "Food Worker Card" FAQ
. You must provide signed copies of a Food Worker Card for each
person named on your application.
- Master Business License In order to
apply for the Cottage Food Operation Permit, you must have a
Master Business License to do business in Washington. The name
of the person(s) applying for the Cottage Food Operations Permit
must be on the Master Business License. Your business license is
also used to identify your business name and the address of your
cottage food location for the permit and for your product
labels. To apply for a Master Business License, go to:
- Additional Application Requirements In
addition to the preceding requirements, the Cottage Food
Operation Permit application asks for technical details,
including a floor plan, production process, equipment and
utensil list, cleaning and sanitation plan, processing dates and
sales plan, child and pet management plan. Documenting the
production process is typically the most time-consuming step for
both the applicant and the Cottage Food permit review team. This
step includes submitting each of your recipes in a specific
format, documenting the prescribed processing and packaging
steps, as well as submitting an example of each product label
per the specific labeling requirements. Each recipe and label is
thoroughly reviewed for compliance. For additional information,
please see "Things to keep in mind when completing your
- Master Recipes It is possible to submit a
single Master Recipe with variations if the base of the recipe
(for example batter or dough) does not change but different
add-in ingredients (like nuts, fruit, or chocolate chips) can be
noted on the recipe. A separate label for each variation must be
submitted. www.wasmallfarms.org Cottage Food Permit Applications
are limited to 50 master recipes. Add-in variations do not add
to the recipe count.
- Timing The Cottage Food Operation Permit is
good for one calendar year. It will expire one year after it was
issued on the last day of the month it was issued. How long it
takes to review and approve your application depends on how many
recipes were submitted, how thoroughly the application has been
completed, and how timely the applicant responds to notices and
questions from WSDA. The application can be approved as quickly
as two weeks, but could take up to six months. Additional
recipes and labels can be submitted throughout the year for a
cost of $15 ($30 application and $75 public health review). New
products or product changes can be submitted each year with your
renewal for no additional fee.
- Fees The annual application fee totals $230
and includes $75 for a public health review of the application,
$125 for a WSDA on-site inspection of your kitchen, and a $30
processing fee for the application. The application fee is
non-refundable and no refunds will be made after receipt of the
Cottage Food Operation Application.
- Permit Process After your application has
been approved by the public health review, WSDA will contact you
to setup an on-site inspection of your kitchen and all
identified areas of your submitted floor plan. The inspection
typically occurs within 1 to 4 weeks after your application has
been approved. When you pass the inspection, your Cottage Food
Operation Permit will be emailed to you within 1 to 3 days. Once
you have the permit in hand, you may begin producing your
approved products for sale.
Beyond the requirements, common sense, good practices and
reducing liability suggests you should do the following.
ServSafe® training classes for Manager and employees, the 7th Edition Book that accompanies this course should be purchased here..
Testing of pH
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.
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.
Record-keeping is suggested
Keep a written record of every batch of product made for sale,
- Recipe, including procedures and ingredients
- Amount canned and sold
- Canning date
- Sale dates and locations
- Gross sales receipts
- Results of any pH test
Although inspections are not required, you should consider doing
- Use clean equipment that has been effectively sanitized
prior to use
- Clean work surfaces and then sanitize with bleach water
before and after use
- Keep ingredients separate from other unprocessed foods
- Keep household pets out of the work area
- Keep walls and floors clean
- Have adequate lighting
- Keep window and door screens in good repair to keep insects
- Wash hands frequently while working
- Consider annual testing of water if using a private well
Questions? Contact Information:
Please contact the WSDA Food Safety Program at