A new California State law became effective January 1, 2013, that allows a "Cottage Food Operation," or CFO, to operate in a private home by preparing or packaging low-risk food products for sale to consumers.
Only foods that are defined as “non-potentially hazardous” are approved for preparation by CFO’s. These are foods that do not require refrigeration to keep them safe from bacterial growth that could make people sick. The California Department of Public Health will establish and maintain a list of approved cottage food categories on their website and will establish a process by which new foods can be added to the list and other foods can be challenged and removed. The initial list included in the new law includes:
- See FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS about the California Homemade Food Act.
- Read the full text of the bill, AB 1616.
- There is more information about the California Homemade Food Act on the California Department of Health's COTTAGE FOOD OPERATIONS web pages.
There are two classifications of Cottage Food Operations (CFOs). Class A for direct sales and Class B for direct and indirect sales.
- “Direct Sale” means a transaction between a CFO operator and a consumer, where the consumer purchases the cottage food product directly from the CFO. Direct sales include, but are not limited to, transactions at holiday bazaars* or other temporary events*, such as bake sales or food swaps, transactions at farm stands, certified farmers’ markets, or through community-supported agriculture subscriptions, and transactions occurring in person in the cottage food operation. CFO products cannot be sold to retail food facilities, wholesale, or by mail order. Products cannot be sold out of state. Internet sales must be picked up or delivered in person within the state of California. The registration requires a completed application, self certification checklist, and an annual fee of $65.00.
- “Indirect Sale” means an interaction between a CFO, a third-party retailer, and a consumer, where the consumer purchases cottage food products made by the CFO from a third-party retailer that holds a valid permit issued by the local environmental health agency in their jurisdiction. Indirect sales include, but are not limited to, sales made to retail shops or to retail food facilities where food may be immediately consumed on the premises. CFO products can be sold to retail food facilities or by mail order. Products cannot be sold out of state. Internet sales must be picked up or delivered in person within the state of California. The annual permit requires a completed application, kitchen inspection completed by county REHS staff, and an annual fee of $260.00.
COTTAGE FOOD OPERATION APPLICATION - CLASS A ("Direct Sale")
COTTAGE FOOD OPERATION APPLICATION - CLASS B ("Direct and Indirect Sale")
- Monterey County Environmental Health Bureau (MCEHB) is in the process of seeking Monterey County Board of Supervisors approval for final Cottage Food Operator Registration and Permit fees. MCEHB anticipates this process to be completed and implemented by July 1, 2013. In the meantime, MCEHB will charge the following based on our hourly service rates:
- Registration (Class A ONLY)………………………………………………………$65
- Permit (Class B ONLY)……………………………………………………………..$260
*IT IS IMPORTANT TO NOTE that a Temporary Food Facility Permit is ALSO required to participate at holiday bazaars or other temporary events, such as bake sales or food swaps, transactions at farm stands, and certified farmers’ markets.
CFO Water Use:
Water used in the preparation of cottage food products must be potable water from a properly constructed on-site well, municipal water system or commercially bottled water. If a well is used, the well water must be tested annually for coliform bacteria and nitrates. Potable water shall be used for the following cottage food preparation activities:
- Washing, rinsing, and sanitizing of any equipment used in food preparation.
- Washing and sanitizing hands and arms.
- Water used as an ingredient of cottage food.
If the choice is made to use commercially bottled water, verification of usage will be required at the time the operation is registered or permitted. A list of water testing laboratories is available on this web site. Environmental Health staff can also provide consultation on drinking water quality and well construction.