Licenses and Permits
To Sell At Farmers Markets
Last Updated: March 16, 2010
Any vendor offering a potentially hazardous food (PHF) to the public must be permitted through Spokane Regional Health District (SRHD). A PHF is a food that requires temperature control because it is in a form capable of supporting the growth of microorganisms. A PHF does not include a food with a water activity value of .85 or less, a food with a pH level of 4.6 or below (measured at 75°F), or a food in an unopened hermetically sealed container that is commercially processed to achieve and maintain commercial sterility. In addition, certain non-PHFs may also require a permit through SRHD depending on how the food is prepared and handled. Please contact SRHD for permit requirements if you plan on selling or sampling any food to the public. Permit applications must be submitted at least two weeks prior to operating to avoid a double fee. See contact information in Appendix A.
Most farmers markets in Spokane County require their vendors to have a Washington State Business License and UBI number. To obtain a business license contact the Department of Licensing. Contact the city where your farmers’ market is located to determine if you will also need a city business license. See additional information in Appendix C.
Raw honey from an approved source is not potentially hazardous and can be sold at a farmers’ market without any permits or licenses. Flavored honey requires a Food Processors License from the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA). Non-potentially hazardous, packaged, flavored honey from an approved licensed source is exempt from SRHD permit.
To sell pre-packaged raw shell eggs at a farmers’ market you must have a Lower Risk Temporary Food Establishment (TFE) permit from SRHD. This permit will need to be renewed annually and allows the selling of food at different locations (only one location at a time) if the operator meets the following requirements: a) same operator, same menu, and same set-up for all dates of operation; b) Serves only foods on the Lower Risk Menu Item list (eggs must be pre-packaged raw shell eggs from an approved source); c) limited number of menu items;. In addition to a Lower Risk TFE permit, you will also need an “egg handler dealer” designation from WSDA on your master business license.
Meat (butchered, frozen)
To sell meat that is pre-frozen, held frozen and sold frozen at a farmers’ market you will need a Lower Risk TFE permit from SRHD. All meat to be sold at a farmers’ market must be USDA inspected. There are currently three “local” butchers that are USDA certified [See Appendix B for more information]. There are no plants in Spokane County with USDA certification.
Meat (butchered, fresh- chicken)
To sell fresh chickens and other fresh meats you will need a Higher Risk Temporary Food Event (TFE) permit from SRHD and the meat must be from an approved source. If you plan on selling fresh meat at more than one farmers’ market in Spokane County you will need a separate permit for each location. All meat to be sold at a farmers’ market must be USDA inspected. To sell butchered chickens, turkeys, rabbits, etc. a special poultry permit from WSDA license is required.
Seafood (fresh or frozen)
Seafood must be obtained from a licensed, approved source. The product must originate from the greater Pacific Northwest, which includes Washington, Oregon, Alaska and British Columbia. A Lower Risk TFE permit is required from SRHD to sell pre-frozen, held frozen and sold frozen seafood. Fresh seafood will require a Higher Risk TFE permit.
Processed Meats (pepperoni, sausage, jerky etc.)
Processed meats sold at a farmers’ market will require a permit from SRHD if they are potentially hazardous foods. Contact SRHD to determine your permit category. Only non-potentially hazardous foods that are served without direct hand contact, limited portioning, using sanitary single-use articles are exempt from permit. All meat to be sold at a farmers’ market must be USDA inspected. There are currently three local butchers that are USDA certified (see Appendix C) and no plants in Spokane County with USDA certification.
Foods prepared on-site in a Mobile Kitchen
Vendors planning to sell at a farmers’ market foods prepared on-site in a mobile kitchen will need an annual mobile permit from SRHD. This permit allows for operation anywhere in the county for one year. This permit requires a full plan review, pre-opening inspection, and approval from Washington State Department of Labor and Industries. Contact SRHD for specific requirements.
On-site prepared foods
To sell prepared foods made on site (or at an approved commissary) at a farmers’ market you will need a TFE permit from SRHD. Food items and preparation procedures will be reviewed to determine the appropriate permit category.
Sampling of foods
All of the above requirements apply to the distribution of food samples as well as the sale of food items. If you wish to offer samples of a food item not listed above, please contact SRHD for specific requirements.
A license from the WSDA Feed and Fertilizer Program is required.
Bread & Pastries
The production of breads and pastries requires a WSDA food processors license and/or an SRHD permit (if produced for retail sale only). The sale of breads and pastries is exempt from SRHD permit if products are non-potentially hazardous foods, commercially-produced from a licensed source, that are served without direct hand contact, limited portioning, and using sanitary single-use articles.
To sell self-canned foods at a farmers’ market you need a Food Processors License from the WSDA. You will also need to prepare these foods in a commercial kitchen. The WSDA will inspect for sanitation, processing, and recipes.
To sell ice cream at a farmers’ market you will need to have a Food Processors License from the WSDA for the production of the ice cream, as well as a Lower Risk TFE permit through SRHD for the sale of the ice cream.
Frozen Ready to bake items
To sell frozen ready-to-bake items at a farmers’ market you will need to have a Food Processors License from the WSDA. If the items are potentially hazardous foods, a permit from SRHD is also required.
To sell cheese at a farmers’ market you will need a Food Processors License from the WSDA for the production of the cheese. Cheese sold at a farmers’ market needs to be kept under temperature control. Cheeses that are potentially hazardous foods also require a permit from SRHD.
Pasteurized dairy products require a Food Processors License from the WSDA for the production of the items, as well as a Lower Risk TFE permit from SRHD for the sale of the items to the public. If the dairy products are raw you will need a TFE permit from SRHD (contact SRHD for consumer advisory requirements regarding raw animal products). You will also need a Milk Producers License and a Milk Processing License from the WSDA to sell raw dairy products at a farmers’ market. Dairy products sold at a farmers’ market must be kept under temperature control.
Tofu is a processed food and requires a Food Processors License through WSDA for the production, as well as a permit through SRHD for the sale of the product, since it is considered a potentially hazardous food. Contact SRHD to determine your permit category.
Coffee and other beverages are exempt from permit if they are non-potentially hazardous and served directly into single service articles. Espresso drinks (using milk) require an Lower Risk TFE permit from SRHD if all requirements of the Lower Risk TFE permit category are met. Coffee beans or dry tea leaves require a Food Processors License from the WDSA for the production of these items.
Plant and Nursery
Any person who produces, handles, or sells more than $100 annually in horticultural plants is considered a “nursery dealer” and is required by law to have a license for each place of business where horticultural plants are sold. The Washington State Department of Licensing issues nursery dealer licenses in conjunction with the Master License Program. At Spokane County Farmers’ Markets vendors selling nursery products must have their own license and must ensure that the plants vended are healthy, disease free, and pest free. Selling cut flowers does not require a nursery dealer license.
Alcoholic beverages must be made entirely from ingredients grown in Washington, or from grapes grown in a recognized Washington appellation, except for certain additives required for processing, but which cannot be produced in the State of Washington, not amounting to more than 5% of the total volume of the beverage. Every winery must have a Federal Basic Permit from the U.S. Department of the Treasury, Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. To sell at a farmers’ market the winery must be located in Washington State, have a valid domestic winery license, and apply for an added endorsement from the Washington State Liquor Control Board (WSLCB). This endorsement allows to-go sales only; tasting and samples are not allowed.
In Washington State, no weighing or measuring instrument or device may be used for commercial purposes unless its commercial use is registered annually (RCW 19.94.015). All weighing or measuring instruments or devices used for commercial purposes within this state shall be correct (RCW 19.94.165). There are many types of scales, but only those models legal for trade may be used. All scales that are used at farmers’ markets in Spokane County must be registered with DOL. The registration of a scale will be identified on the Master Business License. After the scale is registered it will be inspected by Washington State Weights and Measures. Once a scale is approved the inspector will place the state seal on the scale. Scales must be placed in a reasonable position for the customer to observe the weighing and the weight display. All sales must be conducted using net weight. Net weight means the weight of the produce only, excluding the wrappers, labeling, and container “tare”. To register your scale contact DOL. For questions about devices or certification contact the WSDA Weights and Measures Program.
All products sold as organic in Washington must be certified by the WSDA Organic Food Program. Organic certification means that an independent, third party has verified that the requirements of organic crop production, processing, and handling have been met.
Exemptions: Businesses selling less than $5,000 of organic products annually do not need to be certified, but must follow National Organic Program standards.
Cosmetics include skin creams, lotions, and shampoos. Soap products consisting primarily of an alkali salt of fatty acid and making no label claim other than cleansing of the human body are not considered cosmetics.
Cosmetics must be in compliance with the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act, and follow the rules set by the FDA.
Cosmetics may not carry a claim that the product treats or prevents a disease, or otherwise affects the structure or function of the body. Cosmetics are required to follow federal labeling requirements. Certain cosmetics are also required to bear specific warnings on their label.
Appendix A: Contacts
Spokane Regional Health District (SRHD) Food Safety Program
1101 W. College Ave. Rm. #402
Spokane, WA 99201
(509) 324-1560 ext. 2
Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA)
P.O. Box 42560
Olympia, WA 98504
Organic Food Program