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Homemade Food Sales Coming in 2013

From nuts mixes and dried fruits to pickles, pastries and cakes, a new California bill will allow the sale of "cottage food," made and sold from the home. Only family members may be employed and the bill caps income at stated levels.

California home cooks will have new opportunities for doing business with a bill that was recently signed by Governor Jerry Brown. Assembly Bill No. 1616 will make it legal for cooks to sell their home-cooked products starting in 2013. 

The new bill will allow exclusions for “cottage food operations” from the current Sherman Law and California Retail Code, which until now made preparing and selling homemade food a misdemeanor.

1616 requires cottage food operations to meet specific requirements relating to training, sanitation, preparation, labeling and permissible types of sales.

“Small businesses have played an important role in helping slow economics recover and prosper and an engine of job creation… small businesses now account for 65% of the United States employment,” it says on page 3 of AB 1616. “There is a growing movement in California to support community-based food production, sometimes referred to as “cottage food” and “local based food.”

“Increased opportunities for entrepenuer development can help supplement household incomes, prevent poverty and hunger, and strengthen local economies,” reads page 4. “A city, county, or city and county shall not prohibit a cottage food operation in any residential dwellings…” however cottage food operators may be subject to home occupational permit requirements within the city ordinances.

We'll follow up when the city defines such permit requirements. There will be two types of permits available.

  • “Class A” would allow home food operators to engage in direct sales only, including temporary events, farmers markets, and in person transactions. "Class A" permit holders would not be subject to an inspection, unless a complaint is received. It will require operator to possess a food handlers safety certification from a four-hour course and follow food safe guidelines outlined.
  • "Class B"  would allow both direct and indirect sales. Indirect sales would allows interaction between the cottage food operation and a third-party retailer, to allow resale of the appropriately labeled food. "Class B" permit holders would be be subject to an initial inspection of food preparation and an annual inspection upon renewal, and will be subject to all "Class A" requirements.

Food is to be labeled "Made in Home Kitchen" in 12-point type, along with commonly used product name, cottage name, permit type and a list of ingredients.

Section 113758 states cottage permit holders may not employ anyone except family members, and cottage operations will have annual gross income caps. In 2013 gross annual sales may not exceed $35,000, increasing to not exceed $50,000 by 2015.

Food operations will include the following regulations under a self-certification checklist:

  • No food preparation or handling concurrent with other domestic activities; i.e. family meal preparation, dish washing, clothes washing and more.
  • No infants, small children or pets in the permitted area during preparation or handling.
  • Kitchen equipment must be cleaned and sanitized.
  • Area must be rodent and insect free.
  • Smoking is prohibited in permitted area.

Rules will be posted on an Internet web site.

Do you cook, preserve or bake at home? Does this look like a good opportunity for you? Tell us in the comments.

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Belle (Orchid Lady) October 02, 2012 at 10:08 PM
Cool. I thought that there were some other restrictions though? Like, the food can't contain milk or dairy? As in tamales, or frosting? Or is that an entirely different law? anybody know?
Steve Sando October 03, 2012 at 12:44 AM
It would be a shame if one couldn't get tamales. I think this is incredible news. We seem to be going from such an extreme Nanny state to allowing the creative to do their thing. I think Napa will produce some of the best products as we have access to some of the best ingredients. Yes, public health is a huge issue but I'm much more concerned with industrial ag and their disgusting ground meat from sick cows than I am about a tamale lady making a batch of tamales in her kitchen.
Belle (Orchid Lady) October 03, 2012 at 07:21 PM
I meant meat and dairy, sorry.

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