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Food establishments, including private homes, that manufacture, process, pack or hold food for sale are subject to the Virginia Food and Drink Law and related regulations. It is unlawful to operate as a food manufacturer, food storage warehouse, or retail food establishment until it has been inspected and has been issued a permit for the operation of the food establishment. (Note these exceptions from inspection.)

Enforcement of these requirements includes regular periodic inspections of food establishments, including private homes. VDACS’ Food Safety Specialists, also known as inspectors, ensure that any food or beverage manufactured, produced, processed, packed, exposed, offered, possessed or held for sale is safe for human consumption, and in compliance with the Virginia Food and Drink Law and related regulations. Inspectors look for evidence of unsanitary conditions, mislabeling and the mishandling of food products that can lead to unsafe foods. Manufacturers are subject to unannounced inspections and sampling, as well as an annual fee. Further guidance is available in the Additional Resources section below.

If you are interested in starting a catering company, please contact the Virginia Department of Health. Products containing meat are regulated by the Office of Meat and Poultry Services.

Permit Applications

Laws & Regulations

Additional Resources


Click here to submit a complaint concerning foodborne illness, or conditions at a food manufacturer or retail store.

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