ACTION ALERT: Cottage Food Act Regulations!

On September 18, 2017, Mayor Bowser sent the Department of Health’s (DOH) final regulations for the Cottage Food Act to the Council for approval; they will go into effect on December 18th, 2017. These regulations implement the Cottage Food Act of 2013, which was passed to define and permit cottage food businesses in the District.


What should I know about these regulations?

  • They specify requirements to qualify and register as a cottage food business in the District. (section 102)
  • They provide a list of food products approved for sale at farmers’ markets or public events within the District. This list is subject to change by DOH on a quarterly basis, and there is a process to follow if seeking approval for products not on the list. (section 103.5)
  • They also specifically prohibit certain processes, activities, and foods. (sections 105 and 106)
  • They require that all cottage food products for sale be labeled according to requirements set forth in the 2013 law. (section 104.2 for the rules and 104.3 for an example)
  • DOH reserves the right to inspect the premises of cottage food businesses during normal business hours and on an agreed upon scheduled date. (section 108)
  • They require certain safe food practices.


Who qualifies as a cottage food business?

As defined in the 2013 law, a cottage food business produces or packages cottage food products in a residential kitchen, with total annual revenues from the sale of cottage food products not to exceed $25,000.

Additionally, before beginning operations, operators must obtain a Cottage Food Business Registry Identification Number and Certificate from DOH. To do so, the following documentation is required:

  • A Home Occupancy Permit issued by DCRA (original only)
  • Proof of calibrated scales that comply with DCRA regulations (for food sold by weight)
  • Proof of successfully passing a DOH-approved, nationally accredited Certified Food Protection Manager Course
  • A District-issued Certified Food Protection Manager Certificate (valid at least three years from the date of exam)
  • A list of food products the applicant intends to produce, package, and sell
  • Packaging labels (as specified in section 104 of the regulations, seen in the example below)
  • A $50 registration fee (certificate is valid for two years)

How Long Should the Process Take?

  • DOH will approve or deny applications within thirty (30) business days of receiving a properly completed application
  • If approved, DOH will conduct a pre-operational inspection of the premises within fourteen (14) business days of approval.

Want to Find Out More?

DOH will be partnering with the DC Department of Small and Local Business Development to share outreach materials (such as brochures and FAQs) and hold meetings with potential cottage food owners, so be on the lookout for more information from those departments in the coming months.


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