West Virginia cottage food laws, make this State one of the easiest, best States to be in to start a cottage food business. You can start today, by simply saying…
I’m going to be my own boss! I’m starting my cottage food business today, in-fact… RIGHT NOW!You – $CEO,000
Table of Contents
HOW TO START YOUR COTTAGE FOOD BUSINESS IN WEST VIRGINIA – LICENSING
STEPS TO START
- Pick foods to offer from the “allowed” food types listed below.
- Get labels made (see label example below)
- Start baking/cooking, marketing and selling
Always check with your local city/county about getting a standard business license. Some require this.
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WEST VIRGINIA COTTAGE FOOD LAWS – Foods That Are Allowed
The following is an itemized list but doesn’t exclude variations and other products in these categories.
- Sweet breads
- Baked candy
- Cotton candy
- Icing / Frosting
- Nut butters
- Sauces (check first)
- Coffee beans
- Dried fruit
- Dried vegetables
- Pasta noodles
- Spices & Seasonings
- Tea leaves
- Other Pastries
- Caramel corn
- Chocolate-covered items
- Crackers & Pretzels
- Fruit leathers
- Kettle corn
- Nuts & seeds
- Popcorn balls
- Fruit butters
- Jams & jellies and preserves that comply with the standard described in part 150 of Title 21 of the code of Federal Regulations: CLICK HERE
- Carbonated Drinks
- Pet Food
OTHER FOODS / MEATS:
West Virginia has some exemptions for sales at a farmers market. Foods not normally allowed in a cottage food business are allowed if sold at a farmers market. Find out more here.
If your food item is in question and not listed above, you can reach out and see if your food would be allowed under the new laws:
WV Business Development
Real Life Cottage Food Entrepreneurs and Opportunities
- Cakes – teacher turns kitchen into bakery
- Doughnuts – cottage mini donut vendor
- Fruit jams and jellies – See Additional Requirements Here
- Kettle corn – real kettle corn vendors from home
- Popcorn (plain and flavored) – see a real home vendor here
- Talk and Join hundreds of others here: VendorsUnited.com
WEST VIRGINIA COTTAGE FOOD LAWS – PROHIBITED FOODS
- Perishable Bakery Items
- Low Acid Canned Foods
- Jerky made from meat
WEST VIRGINIA ANNUAL SALES LIMITS
Most states set a cap on what you’re allowed to make annually.
This is usually put in place to push you towards opening a full-fledged retail business while at the same time letting you start from home.
West Virginia has no limit on your annual sales. Below is what the state of Colorado puts out to help folks wanting to go beyond cottage foods.
Colorado created a brochure on going beyond cottage food once you’ve outgrown or hit your maximum allowed income.
I have provided it here for a resource as you grow your business and wish to expand. Here is Salt & Graze who just converted from Cottage Food over to Retail/Commercial.
ACIDITY LEVELS AND TESTING
Most states determine if a food is non-potentially hazardous by the acidity level found in the food. The higher the acidity, the more stable at a range of temps, that food product is.
For example: milk is low acidity and requires temperature controls.
The acidity of foods is measured by pH.
• The range of pH is commonly considered to extend from zero to 14. A pH value of 7 is neutral because pure water has a pH value of exactly 7.
Values less than 7 are considered acidic, while those greater than 7 are considered basic or alkaline.
• All fruits are acidic foods and are usually tart and sour. Ex: tomato, lemon, peach, apple, etc.
• The FDA rule for acidic foods states that a food must have a pH below 4.6 to be sold as a minimally processed food.
• The reason for this is bacteria does not grow at this level of acidity.
• The exclusion shall not be construed as allowing the sale of low acid foods (pH > 4.6) in
hermetically sealed containers (i.e. home-canned green beans, peas, etc.) when such
food is not prepared in a permitted establishment.
Some states require testing if the pH level is unknown.
For many food products, the pH level is already known. You can test for pH yourself using a pH spear tester. (make sure it is made for food and has a long spear tip).
Oklahoma State University shares an awesome guide for selecting the correct tester for foods and liquids which includes tips and tricks for operation and maintenance. Get The Guide Here.
WEST VIRGINIA COTTAGE FOOD LAWS LABELING REQUIREMENTS
The basic information that must be on the label is as follows:
Products falling under the “Cottage” or “Homemade” Foods definition shall also meet the following
conditions applying to the sale and delivery of these food items:
The homemade food item must be sold by the producer to the consumer, whether in person or remotely, or by an agent of the producer or a third-party vendor; and
The homemade food items must be delivered to the consumer by the producer, an agent of the producer, a third-party vendor, or a third-party carrier.
Labeling requirements for Cottage Foods include:
The name, home address, and telephone number of the producer of the homemade food item;
- The common or usual name of the homemade food item;
- The ingredients of the homemade food item in descending order of predominance; and
- The following statement: “This product was produced at a private residence that is exempt from State licensing and inspection. This product may contain allergens.”
The information must be provided: On a label affixed to the package, if the homemade food item is packaged;
On a label affixed to the container, if the homemade food item is offered for sale from a bulk
On a placard displayed at the point of sale, if the homemade food item is neither packaged nor
offered for sale from a bulk container;
On the webpage on which the homemade food item is offered for sale, if the homemade food item
is offered for sale on the Internet; or On a receipt or other document provided to the customer with the homemade food item.
COTTAGE FOOD LABEL EXAMPLE
Below is an example of what West Virginia requires on their labels.
Using VistaPrint.com or similar – you can quickly create professional labels that not only serve to meet the state cottage food guidelines but also serve for marketing your awesome business and products.
You’ll find some fantastic examples of this from members inside VendorsUnited.com
ALLERGENS ON LABELING
The FDA lists eight (8) major food allergens. Listing any of these on your label is a smart business practice and will certainly help your customers choose a product.
- Fish (e.g., bass, flounder, cod)
- Crustacean shellfish (e.g., crab, lobster, shrimp)
- Tree nuts (e.g., almonds, walnuts, pecans)
Simply add to your label: “CONTAINS: SOYBEANS” Some go as far to announce that a certain allergen is used in the same kitchen.
Some states require you list any potential allergens and potential for any cross contamination even if the allergen is not used in the recipe.
FDA Allergen Labeling Example: Contains Wheat, Milk, Egg, and Soy
WHERE CAN I SELL MY COTTAGE FOOD PRODUCTS
West Virginia Cottage Food Laws – Sales Rules
You can offer and sell products through all these:
You can not sell across state lines.
Inside kitchenincome.com you can find out how many cottage food entrepreneurs are getting sales faster than they can make the food.
FOOD HANDLER TRAINING AND BEST PRACTICES
West Virginia does NOT require you take a food safety course.
However, knowing the safe handling practices will protect you and your customers, it is always a good idea to take a quick online class and get certified.
There are many short courses you can take online and actually get certified and be able to share that with your customers.
Many of our VendorsUnited.com members our proud to display their food safety certificates as a way to insure their customers that they care. This helps your business.
- Short courses that provide food handling and safety certification
- Free info from the FDA – food safety
Much of this may seem like common sense, but even if you already know, it’s a good idea to remind yourself with a list of things that can prevent you from missing something small.
And if for no other reason… CYA! CYA = Cover Your A#%
CLEAN WORK AREA / WORK SPACE / SANITIZATION
Providing safe to eat foods from your kitchen – starts in your kitchen.
Keep your area clean and sanitized to avoid cross contamination and to insure you provide your customers and clients with the safest and best foods they can get.
The following are some “common” sense things you can do to insure the best environment for preparing foods to sell:
- Keep all equipment and surface areas clean and sanitized
- Make sure window and door screens are bug proof with no gaps
- Keep ingredients separate to prevent cross contamination / e.g. raw eggs near flour
- No pets in work area and preferably none in the home
- Allow no-one with a cold, sniffles or sick in kitchen while preparing foods
- Wipe down walls and clean floors daily
- Use good lighting to avoid missing unclean areas
- Keep window and door screens in good repair to keep insects out
- Wash hands frequently while working and use food grade gloves for extra safety
- Keep areas of food storage and equipment storage clean and sanitized
Why keep these types of records?
Let’s say the inspector calls you and says they got a report that your banana bread, someone purchased, made them sick.
You’ll be able to show that you didn’t even make banana bread that week and that the person who reported you, bought that 4 weeks ago and you weren’t even the one that sold it to him.
This does not need to be complicated. I love my yellow legal pads and they make an inexpensive tool for keeping up with the following:
- The recipes you use including ingredients
- The process you use to prepare that specific recipe: (can be just like recipe instructions)
- Date made (can be coded for your own use only if your state doesn’t require the production date) e.g. Made 12.22.29 = 292212
- Date sold (you can have a batch code to help track a certain batch) Simply write down date you sold an item
- Location sold is another great piece of information to keep track of
- Sales receipts are something great to keep for a couple of reasons and over at KitchenIncome.com I dive into the best practices, best systems and best methods for tracking, managing, selling and shipping.
COTTAGE FOOD lIABILITY INSURANCE
We live in a society that likes to sue. I can sue you for wearing that color shirt. No kidding!
Of course I probably won’t win, but at the very least, it’s gonna cause you stress and some costs.
Liability insurance is a MUST.
It can be expensive – but several years ago, I found FLIP and by far, they gave me the most protection (coverage) and allow you to run your cottage food business without fear of being sued.
WHY? Because they provide the lawyers. And their lawyers… they are good!
Of course you should price shop around with your local agent or a national brand company, but rest assured, I’ve done all the legwork for you.
Alternatively, some folks opt to get bonded. You’ve heard the saying before: “licensed and bonded”.
A bond is usually provided from an insurance bonding company or your own insurance company. My first time, I got a bond at State Farm.
A bond is expensive comparatively but is less out of pocket in the beginning. Of course, it’s way, way less insurance / coverage too.
A $10,000 bond may cost $50 annually while a $2,000,000.00 liability policy may cost a few hundred a year.
No matter what you decide… knowing you’re insured against frivolous lawsuits is worth every penny.
WEST VIRGINIA COTTAGE FOOD LAWS IMPORTANT LINKS
- Cottage Food Farmers Market Guide West Virginia
- WV Cottage Food Laws
- Getting Started Guide by Institute For Justice
WEST VIRGINIA COTTAGE FOOD CONTACT INFO
WV RULES AND REGULATIONS HELP AND CONTACTS:
Produce Safety Program Manager
Produce Safety Inspection Manager
Farmers Market Program Coordinator
WV BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT HELP
UPDATES TO WEST VIRGINIA COTTAGE FOOD LAWS
From time to time, links, info, rules and numbers change, are updated or made obsolete.
Although I spend time daily with hundreds of vendors (many of which are cottage food businesses) – I can miss an update.
If you find a broken link, outdated information or any other issue… please let me know and I’ll send you a special gift for helping me maintain the best site on the internet for the cottage food industry.
My goal has always been to have a central place that is absolutely free those starting out or existing entrepreneurs who use their homes and kitchens to make real incomes.
Need more resources? Check it out HERE (Helpful Resources)
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This information is provided to help those interested in starting a cottage food business. It is not a document made by the state government. This information is not provided as law nor should be construed as law. Always use the contact information for each state to confirm compliance and any changes.
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