6 Key Steps to Acquire your Cottage Food Permit and Start your Home Business

Starting a home-based food business can be an exciting and profitable venture for those who love to cook or bake. However, before you can begin selling your home-cooked goods to the public, it’s important to understand the relevant laws and regulations that apply to such businesses. In this article, we will guide you through the six essential steps to obtain your cottage food permit and successfully launch your home business.

First off, let’s clarify what a cottage food operation is. It’s a business where individuals produce certain types of foods in their home kitchens to sell to consumers. However, not all types of food products can be sold under the cottage food law. Primarily, low-risk foods like baked goods, jams, and jellies, among others, are allowed. That being said, each state has its own specific rules around which foods are considered low-risk.

1. Identify Your Product

Before diving into how to get a cottage food license, you need to identify your product and ensure that it falls under the approved list of cottage foods. In Washington state, for example, the WA state cottage food law allows for a wide range of goods including loaves of bread, pastries, cookies, candies, granolas, nuts and trail mixes, among others.

2. Understand the Cottage Food Law

Cottage food laws in Washington are designed to protect public health while also making it easier for home cooks to start a business. If you’re interested in selling homemade food in Washington state, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the specifics of the cottage food law Washington. The law includes requirements about what kind of foods can be made, where they can be sold, and what labeling and packaging guidelines need to be followed.

3. Draft Your Business Plan

Having a solid business plan is critical. This should cover elements like your target market, competition, pricing strategy, marketing, and financial projections. It should also include details on your product handling, storage, and labeling, all under the cottage food regulations.

4. Get a Food Worker Card

Before being eligible for a cottage food permit in Washington, you must first have a Washington State Department of Health (DOH) food worker card. The DOH provides training and exams in many languages both online and at the local health department.

5. Prepare for a Home Kitchen Inspection

Obtaining a cottage food permit involves a thorough inspection of your home kitchen by a representative of the WA DOH. This inspection is designed to ensure that your kitchen meets the same standards of cleanliness and safety as a commercial kitchen. It’s crucial to familiarize yourself with these standards and make any necessary modifications to your kitchen before the inspection happens.

6. Apply for Your License

The final step is to apply for your cottage food license. The application usually requires the submission of your business plan, product labels, kitchen inspection report, and food worker card. In Washington, the application fee for a cottage food permit ranges from $230 to $1,115, depending on gross sales, which covers the cost of reviewing your application and the initial inspection.

Once your cottage food permit application has been approved, you can start legally selling your home-produced foods. Remember, however, that the permits are often only valid for one year and require renewal.

Starting a cottage food operation represents a great opportunity for aspiring entrepreneurs. By following the steps above, you will be well on your way to acquiring your cottage food permit, launching your home business, and sharing your culinary creations with the world.