The cost of starting a food production business can be prohibitive, especially when you have limited income. Furthermore, you must have substantial savings or qualify for a business loan to pay the high cost of renting and operating a commercial food production facility. Although Virginia requires the majority of food service businesses to prepare food in inspected commercial kitchen facilities, exceptions to the law exist that allow some state residents to prepare food for sale at home.
Virgina allows you to use your home as a food production facility if you live in a rural area, according to the Virginia Cooperative Extension. The Virginia Department of Health, the state agency that oversees commercial food production in the state, has different types of regulations that you must follow, based on the type of food you produce.
Separate Kitchen Facilities
Home-based food entrepreneurs who produce food other than baked items must have completely separate kitchen facilities to produce food, even if the facilities are at your home location. Such a facility could be a second kitchen within your house or a separate building on your property. The kitchen must inspected by a certified health inspector and must meet local health department standards to sell food for public consumption, according to the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Virginia caterers, for example, are allowed to prepare the food items clients require in such kitchen facilities.
In Your Own Kitchen
The Virginia Cooperative Extension indicates that you do not need to have a separate kitchen if you sell only baked goods to the public. You must, however, allow state and local health inspectors to inspect your kitchen before you start selling your baked goods.
Where You Can Sell Your Food
The desire for homemade food items has increased by more than 70 percent since 2005, according to the Roanoke Times. The State of Virginia encourages home-based food businesses to create products to sell at farmers' markets' across the state. Generally speaking, farmers' markets' require all vendors, including home-based vendors, to provide copies of the latest health inspection report to rent a booth or table.
Maya Black has been covering business, food, travel, cultural topics and decorating since 1992. She has bachelor's degree in art and a master's degree in cultural studies from University of Texas, a culinary arts certificate and a real estate license. Her articles appear in magazines such as Virginia Living and Albemarle.