Washington - Cottage Food Law

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Washington is probably the most difficult state for someone to get started as a cottage food operator. The application for a cottage food permit is very long, and it requires the applicant to complete many of the steps a full food processor would have to complete. Most states that require cottage food operators to jump through many hoops to get registered also give them a lot more flexibility in how they choose to run their business, but in Washington, a cottage food operation is limited to only $25,000 of sales per year, and indirect sales (to restaurants, stores, etc.) are not allowed.

Fortunately, Washington has a lot of information online about their cottage food law, which helps clarify the complicated process. Before getting a permit, an operator must take a training course, get a business license, submit an application with a very detailed business plan, have their recipes approved, and get their home inspected. The whole process costs $240 or more (with an annual $230 renewal), and it could take up to two months for the operator to get approved.

After failed attempts to improve the law in 2013 and 2014, two amendments (SB 5603 & HB 1622) passed in 2015. Washington’s cottage food law went into effect in the summer of 2011, but it took almost a year for the government to finalize the application process and allow their first cottage food operator in the summer of 2012.

The operation’s permit must be displayed wherever sales are taking place.

Sales made through the internet must be picked up or delivered in person within the state.

Dried coffee, tea, herbs, seasonings, and other dry mixtures may only be made by recombining commercially-produced dry ingredients.

Products may contain a small amount of liquor (1% or less, by weight).

More information about allowed foods and prohibited foods

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

The food worker card, business license, and water testing must be taken care of before applying.

When adding together the training, license, permit, review, and inspection, the base cost of getting started is between $240 and $365. It could cost even more than that with additional employees, a private water supply, or the need for more than one inspection.

After the operation is approved, if any changes are made to the business, then a permit amendment must be submitted at the same individual fees listed above. For instance, adding another recipe to the application would cost $105, because it would require a public health review and a new permit.

The permit period for cottage food operations is from February 1st through January 31st. Each year, operations must renew their permit, which will cost at least $230.

"Made in a home kitchen that has not been subject to standard inspection criteria" (11-point type)

Forrager Cookie Company

123 Chewy Way, Cookietown, WA 73531

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)

NET WT 2 lb 4 oz (1.02 kg)

If a nutritional claim is made on the label, a nutrition info panel must be included as well.

If a product contains liquor, the label must state “This product contains liquor and the alcohol content is one percent or less of the weight of the product.”

Large cakes or bulk items may be labeled with a separate product sheet containing the required information.

For more information, see the labeling requirements (law) and sample labels

Only the cottage food operator and the operation’s employees may be in the kitchen while food preparation is occurring.

Cottage food products may only be stored within the home, and they must be placed in a designated area to separate business items from those for personal use.

More workplace requirements may be found in the basic hygiene and production requirements sections of the laws. There are also a number of recordkeeping requirements.

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