A home-based food production use may be permitted as a home occupation and is therefore allowed as an accessory use, within a residence, with an approved home occupation permit for home-based food production. Home-based food production uses have additional standards within the Zoning Ordinance and are also regulated by the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) and Fairfax County Health Department (FCHD).
Home-based food production uses are different than restaurants, which are strictly prohibited as a home occupation, because restaurants are a principal use with the intent that the food can be eaten and/or sold on the premises. Home-based food production is also different than catering, which may include food requiring time and temperature control. While restaurants and catering are also regulated by the FCHD, home-based food production is overseen by both FCHD and VDACS and guided by the Virginia Cottage Food Laws §3.2-5130.
The Virginia Cottage Food Laws §3.2-5130 provide guidance for certain types of foods prepared in private homes, some of which are exempt from health inspection requirements with VDACS and FCHD. Exempt food products typically do not require time and temperature control after preparation, but do have production and sale restrictions such as quantities, sale locations and labeling requirements. For the list of these exempt foods and the additional regulations, please visit the VDACS website. FCHD further regulates and provides guidance on types of food regulated by exemption in Fairfax County. A home-based food production use can only produce exempt food products, per FCHD, to be issued a home occupation permit.
In order to obtain a home occupation permit, there are use limitations within the Zoning Ordinance that must also be met. A home occupation is an accessory use that must be clearly subordinate to and customarily found in association with the principal use of a residence. The Zoning Administration Division may need to collect additional information on the proposed business to make sure that it is clearly subordinate to the principal residential use. Any applicant seeking a home occupation permit for home-based food production must comply with the use limitations for home occupations outlined in the Fairfax County Zoning Ordinance Article 10, Section 304. This section includes limitations on employees, customers, storage of materials, the appearance and use of the property, etc.
The only foods permitted to be produced in a home are those listed below.
*If you are planning on preparing an item not listed above, please contact the Health Department at 703-246-2201 to request a product assessment. Approval documentation will need to be included for acceptance of this application.
Completed applications may be submitted in person, by email or postal mail to:
Department of Planning and Development
Zoning Administration Division
Zoning Permits Branch
12055 Government Center Parkway, Suite 250
Fairfax, Virginia 22035-5508
8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday - Thursday
9:15 a.m. to 4 p.m., Friday
12000 Government Center Pkwy
Fairfax, VA 22035