The California Homemade Food Act was signed into law in September 2012 and became effective on January 1, 2013. The act would allow for the sale of certain homemade, non- hazardous foods known as the “cottage foods”, to be made in private homes and sold to the public. Individuals who own and run these home-based businesses will be known as Cottage Food Operations (CFO). Specifics on the Cottage Food Bill can be found on the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) website or by using this short link: http://bit.ly/WlKyKv
Assemblyman Mike Gatto made a commitment to help micro-entrepreneurs gain access to these neighborhood-based economic opportunities after his constituent, Mark Stambler, was shut down by the Los Angeles Department of Environmental Health last June for selling homemade bread to a local cheese shop. “I am happy to see this effort move on to the Senate,” said Gatto. “My constituents are clamoring for local, healthy foods and want to buy products made by local small businesses like Mark’s.”
The California Homemade Food Act is consistent with recent chances in the laws of 32 other states. Under AB 1616, foods available for sale would include every-day items such as breads, tortillas, dry roasted nuts and legumes, granola, churros, rice cakes, jams, jellies and other fruit preserves, and cookies. The legislation establishes a two-tier system of operations based upon the point of sale or trade.
Producers opting to sell directly to the consumer would be subject to registration with the local health department and the completion of a food handler’s course, while producers opting to sell through a retail outlet, such as the neighborhood coffee shop, would be subject to inspections by the local health department. Both would have labels declaring their products “homemade” and have traceable information.
Requirements of the Cottage Foods Operations are limited to $35,000 in Gross Annual Sales in 2013; $45,000 in 2014; and $50,000 for subsequent years.
A ‘Class A’ Cottage Foods Operations Permit Requires Annual Registration with the Department of Environmental Health. Direct sales only to the end user (sold from the home and special events such as holiday bazaars, bake sales, certified farmers markets) Advertising and transactions made on the internet are okay but NOT for shipping the product via courier service/mail/FedEx/UPS. Product may be delivered by the CFO within the county only. And no routine inspection will conducted at the CFO’s home.
A ‘Class B’ Cottage Foods Operations Permit Requires Annual Permit with the Department of Environmental Health. Direct and Indirect sales allowed (indirect to 3rd party). Advertising and transactions made on the internet are okay but NOT for shipping the product via courier service/mail/FedEx/UPS. Product may be delivered by the CFO within the county only. Permission is required by the receiving county prior to 3rd party sales in other counties. One annual routine inspection is required at the CFO’s home site where the food is prepared.
Fees for the permits vary, please contact your local department of public health. CFO’s will have to abide by standard food preparation guidelines and complete a Food processor course.
“Our farmer’s markets and street fairs are flourishing parts of neighborhoods throughout the state. They bring a feeling of community in a modern, impersonal world. If we can promote these interpersonal relationships at a time when people are struggling to supplement their family incomes, by removing unnecessary red tape, then we’ve accomplished something important for both the residents of our state and its small businesses,” Gatto commented.