In years past, Californians looking to sell homemade food products faced many roadblocks. The California Retail Food Code prohibited the sale of foods that were prepared and/or stored in private home kitchens due to strict health and sanitation regulations. Therefore, home cooks turned entrepreneurs had to rent expensive commercial kitchen space to make their products.
On January 1, 2013, however, the Homemade Food Act went into effect and California joined thirty-four other states with cottage food laws. Cottage food laws allow cooks to prepare and process certain products in their homes. Though there are still certain conditions and limitations to home food production, the cottage food laws open the doors for many cooks to use their talents to earn extra money by selling their food products at farmer’s markets or in online stores. Cottage food laws vary from state to state, and every home cook looking to start a business should familiarize themselves with California’s new law.
Specifics of California’s Homemade Food Act
The new law includes specific restrictions on the size of eligible cottage food operations (CFOs) and the type of products that may be sold. First, an eligible CFO may not earn more than $35,000 in gross revenue per year, and may not have more the one employee outside of the family or household. Next, CFO products must be non-potentially hazardous foods that do not support the growth of bacteria and do not require refrigeration. The California Department of Public Health maintains and continually updates a list of approved foods which includes bakery items, jams, jellies and candy.