If you are thinking of getting into the cottage food business, but are worried about selling direct to customers, it might help to know that a temporary suspension of that policy remains in effect.
Normally, cottage food operations in Washington are required to sell direct to the consumer, and prohibited from shipping their food products. But as with so many other person-to-person interactions, the COVID-19 pandemic made it difficult for cottage food operations to sell in this manner.
In late 2020, WSDA adopted the new policy, "Delivery of Cottage Foods products during the State of Emergency," to reduce the risk of spreading the coronavirus while still allowing market access for cottage food businesses.
Mailing cottage food products still has some requirements. The product must be packaged to prevent contamination while it’s in transit, and the cottage food operation must continue to meet record-keeping requirements required by state regulations.
Washington has nearly 400 permitted cottage food operations statewide covering about 30 counties. King County has the most, with about 100 permitted cottage food operations. Spokane County has 20 permitted cottage food operations.
WSDA continues to accept new Cottage Food permit applications. The permitting process requires an inspector to visit the location where the food will be prepared, but those inspections are currently being done remotely when possible.
Visit agr.wa.gov/cottagefood for more information on current policies and the WSDA Cottage Food program.