Farm Product Regulations
Local, state and federal product regulations apply to farm businesses. While the majority of product regulations are state and federal, farmers who sell products retail such as at farmers markets or farm stands also fall under local health department jurisdictions. The informational guides, hands-on workshops, and educational videos below will help you navigate the regulatory requirements to produce certain products for sale.
Washington State Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety Program is a resource for you as you prepare to apply for a food processor license. They can offer guidance as you establish your food processing procedures and design or seek an appropriate facility. You can use their map to find the contact person for your area.
Washington State Department of Agriculture
Handbook for Small and Direct Marketing Farms fact sheets on:
- Regulations for Food Processing Are you a food processor, thinking of becoming one, or just not sure if the preparation of your product qualifies as food processing? Get the answers you need in this section, which covers everything from licensing requirements to where help can be found.
Regulations for Specific Products
Some products, such as nuts, eggs, alcoholic beverages, lotions and cosmetics, have specific regulations that govern how they’re handled, who can sell them, where they are sold and a host of other aspects. Learn more about the various requirements for these and other specific products in this section. Products are listed below in alphabetical order:
- Selling Beef, Pork, Lamb, Goat, and Other Meat
- Selling Body Care Products
- Selling Dairy Products
- Selling Eggs
- Selling Fish and Shellfish
- Selling Fresh Fruits and Vegetables
- Selling Herbs
- Selling Herbal and Dietary Supplements
- Selling Honey
- Selling Mushrooms
- Selling Nursery Products
- Selling Nuts
- Selling and Processing Poultry
- Selling Rabbit Meat
- Selling Ready-to-Eat Foods
- Selling Salad Greens
- Selling Seeds
- Selling Sprouts
- Selling Wine, Beer, Hard Cider, and Distilled Spirits
Seattle King County Public Health Retail Permitting
How to start a food business in King County
Information and local contacts for starting and maintaining a food business including catering, mobile food carts, food worker's card, meat wrapper's permit process, food service establishment plan guide and fee table, applications for permanent and temporary food service, and more.
Select a type of food establishment that best describes your business to learn more about how to obtain a food business permit:
- Permanent food establishment
A permanent food business is an establishment operating at a fixed location for more than twenty-one (21) consecutive days.
- Temporary food establishments
A temporary food business is an establishment operating at a fixed location for not more than twenty-one (21) consecutive days in conjunction with a single event or celebration or operating not more than 3 days a week in conjunction with a recurring organized event.
- Mobile food establishments
Mobile Food Establishments include food carts, trailers, and trucks as well as food kiosks. Before constructing, remodeling, or changing ownership, mobile food establishment owners must submit plans for review and approval.
- Catering and home-based food establishments
Catering and home-based food businesses need a food service permit to legally prepare and serve food as hired prior to private parties and events in King County.
- Farmers Markets
- Beverage-related businesses, such as wine, beer, and distillery tasting rooms
Other types of food establishments
- Food operations and bake sales that do not need permits (food exemptions)
Food worker cards
- Food worker card class and test
All employees of a food establishment including cooks, bartenders, servers, hosts, bus persons, etc. are required to obtain a Washington State Food Worker Card. You can take the class and test conveniently online or go to any of their in-person classes. The online study guide is available in English, Chinese, Filipino, Korean, Russian, Spanish and Vietnamese at the link above.
- Meat cutter license
If your job requires the cutting of fresh beef, veal, lamb and/or pork within a meat establishment you will need to pass an exam to obtain a personal occupational Meat Cutter license in addition to the Food Worker Card exam.
City of Seattle, King County, State of WA, and the restaurant community
- Restaurant Success - Working together to improve the regulatory experience of starting and operating restaurants in Seattle, we’re here to help! This guide clarifies the city, county, state, and federal requirements you’ll face as you prepare for your first customers.
Northwest Agriculture Business Center (NABC)
NABC offers an array of Business Services as well as Classes and Workshops on:
Value Added Product Development
Through its industry network, NABC can evaluate market demands and direct suppliers in the production of value-added products that have the best probability of success. NABC’s experienced staff will guide clients through the process of agricultural and business planning; obtaining access to production facilities; establishing quality standards; obtaining working capital; and developing the product format needed to bring Farm to Market.
NABC works with individual producers, producer groups, communities, and supporting agencies to assess needs and seek opportunities to create infrastructure that will enhance the regional agricultural economy and food system. NABC has had measurable success working in all sectors of the ag-economy including the value-added processing of meat and poultry, vegetables, tree fruit and berries, dairy products, and floral-nursery products.
Washington State University (WSU)
WSU offers Food Processing classes and courses throughout the year on the following topics:
- Better Process Control School
- Extrusion Processing
- Food Ingredient Technology
- Food Microbiology
- Food Safety and Sanitation Workshop
- Food Safety Modernization Act
- Frying Process
- Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs)
- Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP)
- Product Development for Value-Added Foods
- TechHelp workshops
Washington State Department of Agriculture
Workshops and trainings from time to time on food safety and processing products. They also advertise events widely through list servs.
Instructional Videos on Permitting Certain Products, Food Processing and Retail Permitting
- Getting Started on a Cottage Food permit Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) (English)
Empezando con un permiso de alimentos caseros WSDA (Spanish)
- Licensing for Cheesemakers WSDA (English)
Licencia para las Queserías Pequeñas WSDA (Spanish)
- Licensing for Small Cheesemakers - Vat Pasteurization WSDA (English)
Licencia para las Queserías Pequeñas - Los pasteurizadores Vat WSDA (Spanish)
- Microdairy Production and Marketing 2,4 WSDA (English)
De Productos Lácteos a Pequeña escala WSDA (Spanish)
Food Safety is in Your Hands - Seattle King County Public Health (SKCPH)
Food Safety: It's Up To You - SKCPH
Food Processing - WSDA
- Small-Scale USDA Inspected Meat Processing (Lopez Island) WSDA
- Small-Scale USDA Inspected Meat Processing (Colville WA) - WSDA
- Part I: The Set-Up – the Mobile Unit and the Farm Site - Niche Meat Processor Assistance Network (NMPAN)
- Part II: Stunning, Bleeding, and Moving the Carcass into the Unit - NMPAN
- Part III: From Carcass to Cooler to Cut and Wrap - NMPAN
- Puget Sound Meat Producers Cooperative Mobile Slaughterhouse KCTS 9
- Selling Nursery Products - WSDA
- Selling Salad Greens - WSDA
- Selling Seeds - WSDA