So I am trying to start up my own home bakery/cake decorating business from home. I live in Fairfax County VA, and from everything I understand about the law, it is perfectly legal for me to do so in my County and the state. I also know that I don't even need to be inspected by the state so long as I don't make anything that needs to be refrigerated and clearly label that they come from a non-inspected kitchen. Ideally, of course, I would love to be licensed by the Dept. of Ag, but I'm not sure if I would actually qualify. I rent my home and therefore cannot make any big changes to it. My kitchen isn't large, but it actually has doors on its entry point, but not latching doors, just french shutter doors. I also have two dogs and a toddler. There is a doggie door in the door in the kitchen, but I could theoretically keep the dogs out of the kitchen while I'm making stuff. Does this situation even seem like a possibility of working out? Any advice from bakers, specifically VA bakers would be greatly appreciated.
To be licenced your pets cannot have access to the kitchen area at all..not just when you are baking. They will take samples of certain items from your recipes to make sure there is no pet hair. (they send it to a lab to be tested). That being said...there is a chance you can pass...you just have to read their requirements carefully and make sure you are prepared when they come.
They told me that they can't tell people that they can't have pets...I would talk to the dept of agriculture to find out, since they sometimes change the rules about pets. I think that you have to keep them out of the kitchen completely, but the requirements about the doors could have changed since I got my license. I have a cat and they never took any samples to test for hair. They can tell from your house and how you answer their questions about sanitation whether you know what you're talking about or not.
Fellow Virginian here - I have a cat and a toddler and passed my inspection with no problems last month. They didn't take any samples from me either. From what you described, it sounds like it's worth a try to talk to the Dept. of Ag. You might need to add some sort of latch, and I'd bet you'd want to remove or permanently close the dog door, but I'd definitely talk to them about it if you're interested in offering icings and fillings that need refrigeration. My local VDACS agents have all been really helpful and surprisingly speedy about answering my questions. Can't hurt to try. Good luck.
Thank you for your responses. Unfortunately, I cannot permanently get rid of the dog door since it is the only way for the dogs to get to the back yard, and when we go away for longer periods of time, it's essential for them. I have a partition that slides into it to show that it can be closed off when I work, but not sure that would be enough.