Legislators Friday passed a cottage food bill originally co-sponsored by Sen. Phil Rockefeller, D-Bainbridge Island. The law is similar to those in 17 other states that ease restrictions on small-scale food makers.
It applies to people who make less than $15,000 (more in later years, based on inflation) selling “cottage foods” such as baked goods, jams, jellies and other preserves, and certain types of fruit butters. The food can’t contain meat and cannot require refrigeration.
Those who stand to benefit are farmers and other aspiring food makers who want to test goodies for sale at farmers markets, for example, without having to spend the resources to rent time in a commercial kitchen (or find a certified community kitchen). The sales must be directly to a consumer, and other rules require a label that lists ingredients, lists the address where the food is made and carries the disclaimer, “Made in a home kitchen that has not been subject to standard inspection criteria.”
Producers must pay a $75 inspection fee (their kitchen gets an initial then at least annual inspection), get food handlers’ and other permits.
When the bill was first introduced, Bill Marler of Bainbridge Island, an attorney who specializes in foodborne illnesses listed short pros and cons in a blog post, the con, of course, being that people could get sick from food made in a home kitchen.
The final bill passed with only one vote of dissent in the Senate and has been sent to the Governor’s Office.