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cottage food community


The California Homemade Food Act (also known as “AB 1616″) passed in California on September 21st, 2012 and went into effect on January 1st, 2013.

The law is setup as a two-tier system, meaning that there are different levels of homemade food producers, depending on who they sell to. “Class A” cottage food operations can only sell directly to consumers, but “Class B” operations can make direct and indirect sales. Indirect sales mean goods can be sold through third-parties, like stores or restaurants, but class B permits require a home inspection and cost more.

California’s law allows a number of food items to be sold, and unlike other states, it also gives the health department the authority to add to it over time. Operators can also sell their food products in almost any kind of venue, but they are limited to $50,000 of sales. Interestingly, that limit has increased over time (it was $35,000 in 2013, and $45,000 in 2014), but it will not automatically increase again. Another unique thing about California’s law is that it allows cottage food operations to have only one non-family employee.

The latest bill (AB 1252) has gone into effect that makes minor amendments to the cottage food law. Most notably, it clarifies that Class A & B operations can do direct sales anywhere within the state, rather than just their own county (Class B can still only do indirect sales within their counties and others that allow it). Also, Class A operations are now required to list their county on their label.


There are two classes of cottage food operations:

A “Class A” cottage food operation is only allowed to sell directly to the consumer, which includes sales from the operation, a farmers market, a food stand, special events, or other similar venues.  Direct sales may occur over the internet or phone with delivery or pickup options, but in most counties, a shipping service may not be used (USPS, FedEx, etc).  A few counties do allow shipping, like Placer County.

A “Class B” cottage food operation is allowed to sell both directly and indirectly to consumers.  In addition to the info about direct sales above, these operations can sell their goods to a third-party retailer, and that retailer can then sell the goods to the consumer.  A third-party retailer is one in which the food may be immediately consumed on the premises, such as a grocery store, bake shop, or restaurant.  In fact, a restaurant may buy cottage foods and use them in their dishes, as long as they inform the consumer on their menu that they are doing so.

Class B operations cannot do indirect intercounty sales, unless the health departments in their home county and the other county come to an agreement. Even though the sales are indirect, these operators also cannot use a shipping service to ship their products to retail stores (except for a few counties).

All CFOs must have a copy of their registration or permit on-site at the time of all sales (including indirect sales).

Allowed Foods

Jams, jellies, preserves and fruit butters must be made in compliance with the Federal Food Code (this resource does a good job of explaining it). It’s a complicated set of rules, but basically questionable items are those without enough sugar or acidity to make them safe. Many labs can test products for a small fee to determine their safety.

Marshmallows cannot contain eggs.

Here is the official approved foods list. On May 7th and August 1st of 2014, and on January 2nd and July 1st of 2015, some items were added to the list.

If you want something added to the approved foods list, you can submit a request.

Only "non-potentially hazardous" foods are allowed, but certain non-PHFs may not be allowed. Most foods that don't need to be refrigerated (foods without meat, cheese, etc.) are considered non-potentially hazardous. Learn more


Sales are limited to $50,000 per year


Registration or permit from local health department

To apply, an operation needs to contact their county’s environmental health department.

Class A CFOs need to register by submitting an application and completing a self-certification checklist. The registration fee varies by health department ($100 – $150 in most counties) and it must be renewed annually.

Class B operations get a permit for direct and indirect sales. The permit fee varies by health department ($150 – $250 in most counties) and it must be renewed annually.

Food handler card

All cottage food operators and their employees must complete a food processor course within three months of the operation becoming registered. Getting a food handler card can be done online in a few hours, and it should cost $10 – $15. Here is a list of ANSI-accredited courses that the CDPH recommends. Also, be sure to check their CFO training document for the most up-to-date information. Training must be completed every three years.

Home inspection

Class B CFOs need to get their home kitchen inspected.

Private well testing

If the operation gets their water from a private well, they must get their water tested, which would incur additional fees.

Private sewage inspection

If the operation has a private sewage system, they must get it inspected, which would incur additional fees.

Sample labels

Some counties require operators to submit only one sample label, while others require a sample label for each product produced. In most counties, if a small change needs to made to the application within the year, the department should be notified with the new information, but it will not incur another application fee. However, if the operator, location, or class type changes, a new application and fee will be necessary. Unfortunately, some counties charge the entire application fee if any products are later added.


Sample Label

Chocolate Chip Cookies

"Made in a Home Kitchen" (12-point type)

Forrager Cookie Company

123 Chewy Way, Cookietown, CA 73531

Permit #: 12345

Issued in Cotton County

Ingredients: enriched flour (wheat flour, malted barley flour, niacin, iron, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), butter (cream, salt), semi-sweet chocolate (sugar, chocolate, cocoa butter, milkfat, soy lecithin, natural flavors), brown sugar, granulated sugar, eggs, vanilla extract (vanilla bean extract, alcohol, sugar), baking soda, salt (salt, calcium silicate)

Contains: milk, eggs, wheat, soy

NET WT 2 lb 4 oz (1.02 kg)

Labels also need to include the operation’s registration/permit number, plus the name of the county that issued their permit.

The net weight must be listed in both English and metric units.  If the label makes any health claims, a nutrition facts panel is required.  Placing a phone number or email address on the label is optional.

If the operation is listed in a current telephone directory, then the street address does not need to be on the label (but the city, state, and zip code still do).

There is more information about labeling, including allergen and health claim instructions, in the Cottage Food Labeling Guide.


In addition to getting help from the members or your household, an operator can only have the equivalent of one full-time employee, regardless of whether they are paid or not.

More information about workplace requirements can be found in the health department’s sanitation guide.


Law Dates
January 2013
AB 1616
January 2014
AB 1252
This page was last updated on


I am starting up my CFO and would like to know if I need to get a business licence from my city and open up a tax id? I have already received my class A permit. Thank you.

    I don’t keep track of all the cities, but you probably do need a business license. You should contact your city or county’s tax collector to determine whether you need a tax id.

I am currently offering home baked biscotti for donations to fund my son’s choir fees
and those of other kids who cannot pay for their fees and field trips
Does this mean I need a permit or am considered a CFO? I am not doing this for profit, but for benefit of my son and the other students

Hi, we’re essentially going to be re-packaging salt into spice jars, but the FDA does not list the specific requirements for salt itself. Do you think we still need to label “made in a home kitchen”? The reason I ask is because were not really making the salt, we’re just re-packaging (no ingredients added or modified). I would understand if this was for salsa or home made foods, but salt is a gray area. What are your thoughts?

    My guess is that you will still need to label it “made in a home kitchen”, but you should confirm that with your environmental health dept. Perhaps a more accurate disclaimer would be “processed and packaged in a home kitchen”, which is what I think the law was really trying to say, but they kept it simple.

    Thanks. Would we qualify to ship out items for class b? Ie Amazon shipments third party USPS etc… Class b states we cannot ship anything because of he nature of the product.

    Placer County is the only one I know of that allows shipping within the state. If the CFO application says you can’t, then you definitely can’t ship, no matter which class you are.

I live in San Diego, I want to make animal treats high in probiotics from my scobys left over from kombucha. Being the kombucha mushroom is fermented ,does this still go against the cottage food law if I dehydrate the scoby into a raw product?
Thank you

I saw that you have carbonated drinks on the prohibited list, I was wondering if you had a source for this as I was not able to find that information elsewhere. I have not seen it on an approved list either, but stating it is prohibited makes me think it is specifically not allowed and will not be on the approved list even after submitting the proper forms.

    The state health dept has taken the time to make a very thorough list, and therefore, almost anything that’s not included in the allowed list is prohibited. If carbonated drinks were not prohibited, they would be specifically listed there. Kombucha was on the list in the early stages of the bill, but it was removed well before passage. The health dept hasn’t given any indication that they will allow any type of drink in the near future, and that’s why I feel confident putting it on the prohibited list.

    The prohibited list isn’t meant to indicate that the health dept will never allow those items. On the contrary, every food category is allowed in at least one state. Therefore, they are potential cottage food items that may be allowed in the future. I’d say the only item that has almost zero chance of being added is meat jerky.

Hi. My dad and i want to start selling baked goods at our local studio city farmer’s market. If it’s not a bother, can you list all of the numbers i need to call or contact to get started? Like how to obtain a permit and license, and what papers are required to sell baked goods at the studio city farmer’s market in Los Angeles, North Hollywood. I hope that;s okay. Thank you.

    I’m honestly not sure of everything you need. Start by calling your environmental health dept, and they can guide you from there. It will probably take a good amount of time, effort, and communication to determine everything you need. Here is some general info about starting:

Great write up. Thank you. I am involved with a restaurant in Los Angeles for the past 5 years. We are talking about bottling our sauce for people to buy and take with them. In glass sauce bottles, with heat shrink cap wrap. I am having a hard time figuring out if I am an “A” or a “B”. We will be making it and bottling it in-house. We deliver our foods locally and wonder if that will be an issue depending on either “A” or “B”… Thank you David for any feedback. Anthony

    If you are not producing the product at home, then you can’t use this law. Also, it depends on what you are bottling. For instance, hot sauce would not be allowed as a cottage food product. The only difference between Class A and B is that the Class B permit allows you to sell indirectly… as an example, you could have the restaurant sell the sauce for you, or they could use your sauce in their dishes. If you meet all of your customers, and they don’t resell your product, then you can stick with Class A.

Hi David,
Thank you for a great resource!
My mother has gotten the Class A certificate, but has since decided to close shop. Do you know if any action is needed to CANCEL a certification and officially let the County know that you’re no longer conducting business? Or should she just let the certification expire?
Thanks again!

    I think she can just let it expire, since registration requires annual renewal. You could notify them but I’m not sure if they’d change anything in their system.


I’m in San Diego county and am thinking of starting my own CFO, specializing in a traditional Canadian dessert bar. But they require milk – not cream – and aren’t baked (they are frozen/refridgerated). I’ve left a message with out County environmental health department but wondered if you had a sense if that was going to be permissible under a Class A registration. Thanks!

    I highly doubt they will be allowed. Anything that requires refrigeration definitely isn’t allowed. But even if your desserts don’t require refrigeration, they would likely not be allowed because they contain dairy.

So I was wondering if there is an age limit like does the person running the business just have to be 18 years or older as well as whether or not lemon bars would be allowed

    I have not heard of any age limitations, aside from the law stating that “small children” may not be in the kitchen during food prep.

David the statement “Made in a home kitchen” must be in 12-point type….what about other writings can they be bigger then 12-point, or the biggest should be statement “Made in a home kitchen” ? Thank you so much.

    Everything on the label should be readable (not microscopic), but there are no size limitations for the other elements. They can be as large as you want. Also, although the law states 12-point type for that statement, there shouldn’t be a problem with using a larger size for it, if you want.

Your website and responses are wonderful. I’ve read through most of the info and just what to understand how I can sell spices packaged from bulk in to smaller containers. I’d like to sell over the internet and ship through out thru US. Nothing is being made just a transfer into smaller containers. It seems that this cannot be done from a residence. What are my options to do this?

    If interstate shipping is a priority, then I’d agree that it can’t be done in a residence. Even though you’re just repackaging food, without altering it, as soon as you opened a commercially-packaged product, you are processing it, from the health dept’s perspective. I believe you need to use a commercial kitchen to process and package anything, and then ship it. It’s best to talk to your health dept about your specific needs. Just in case you haven’t seen this yet:

Hi David I live in California and I just at a question about me wanting my baked goods(cakes,cookies,candy apple etc…!) I made at home. Then went door to door, at baked sales,or even walking in to local business etc…! So I need some kind of permit to sell my baked goods?

Hi David, do you know if there is a specific size or shape for a label (for my cookie boxes) or I can do any Thank you!

    You can do any size and shape, so long as all of the required info is on the label. The statement “Made in a home kitchen” must be in 12-point type.

Under the cottage food law does it applies if I rent out a warehouse or additional grounds for production

Hi David, great site! I am looking into getting a Class B permit for my candy business start-up. My City says no cottage food businesses are allowed, but the County has approved at least 5 such businesses out of my city. Does the County trump the city in this case?

    No — your city trumps your county. Unfortunately, since your city doesn’t allow CFOs, you need to try to convince them to create an ordinance to allow them.

    Hi David, I found out the the county trumps the city and the state trumps the county. Got my approval, it was a zoning verbiage issue.

    I’m glad you got approved! And I’m really glad you didn’t take my word for it. Your statement perplexed me, since typically, zoning can prevent a CFO. However, I went back and read the law, and sure enough, I forgot there is a segment in there that specifically prevents cities or counties from blocking CFOs. I’m sorry to have led you astray and I need to remember to word things better — it only appears that a city can trump the county and state because the latter don’t usually have the specialized wording that CA’s state law has. That’s why, in other states, it’s fairly common for a county to have many CFOs while a specific city disallows them.

    This also reminds me that, awhile back, a city in SoCal (can’t remember which one) was blocking CFOs, even though the law tells them they can’t do that. It was ridiculous to see that even a health dept, who is responsible for enforcing the laws, was not willing to follow the law itself. I’m not sure if that’s still the case for that city, but I do know that if I were in that city, I’d start up my business anyway, using their model of law avoidance as a fine example!

Hi David, I wanted to prepare food and give for people in return for donation money. The food may contain items not approved for CFO, it will be prepared in my home kitchen (not commercial one).

I’m just wondering if I need to follow some legal procedure to obtain license or may not be required?

    There is an exemption if your goods are wholly donated and all proceeds go to a charitable organization, but I don’t think that exemption applies to foods that require refrigeration. You should contact your health dept for details about your county’s rules.

    I’m not sure, aside from knowing that you can’t use the cottage food law. You will probably need to use a commercial kitchen, and you should call your county’s health dept.

Hi David, I have few more questions regarding ingredients I would like to use in my baked goods and I really really appreciate your help. If you do not have answer to any of my question could you please tell who should I contact to find information I need. Thank you so much for what you are doing!
1. If sour cream I use in my dough is properly baked and final priduct is good without refregeration why I can not use it? Or Can I make dough with sour cream but not include in ingredients list on label because I am sure it is 100% safe?
2. Can I subtitute sour cram with yugurt?
3. Can I use cream in my pastry if it consist of butter and condesnced milk and do not need to be refregerated?
4. Can I use honey in my dough and as a glaze for my baked goods?
5. Can I use cottage cheese in my pastry and use it as a filling, and it will be baked after.
6. Can I use shaved chovolate in my pastry?

    For all final answers, you need to contact your environmental health dept.
    1. The approved list says that baked goods cannot contain cream, so it’s not allowed. As for why, it’s a safety concern — not that a baked good with a small amount of sour cream would necessarily be unsafe, but cottage food laws are generally over-conservative when it comes to allowing foods.
    2. Maybe not, since that’s also a dairy product. However, it has more of a chance since some versions are not made with cream.
    3. I highly doubt it. Most env health depts will say no to anything that resembles cream.
    4. Yes, if it’s baked in the dough. Probably also allowed as a glaze, but I’m not 100% sure.
    5. No, unless you have a really nice health dept.
    6. Yes

    Hi, David

    I’ve been organizing workshops on California’s Cottage Food Law as the leader of the University of California’s Small Farm Program. (we are always looking for new revenue sources for small farms. I confirmed with CA Dept. of Public Health that any dairy product is OK in baked goods, as long as the dairy product is being baked. But dairy products are not allowed in uncooked frostings.

    Thanks Shermain, that’s very helpful. I forgot that the approved list actually says that baked goods cannot contain cream fillings — a key distinction. I can see that some of my answers above were overly assumptive and possibly wrong… very sorry about that.

    However, some counties will not allow any item with “cream” in the ingredient list, even if it’s baked, and they disagree with the CDPH on what to allow, amazingly enough. Also, the quantity of dairy is a factor: for instance, custards are baked, but they are not allowed because the proportion of eggs is too high.

Hi David!
I wanted to get a Class B license to sell baked goods. I heard that there are some restrictions regarding kitchen. I am renting appartment and it has door opening to the dining and living area . All paratments that we were renting were with almost the same plan and I am not sure that we will be able to find one with the private kitchen. Does it mean we have no chance to start CFO if we are renting? Thank you

    So you are saying that it is a shared kitchen? As far as I know, that would not be allowed for a cottage food business. You need to be renting an apartment with a private kitchen, and you also need your landlord’s approval to start the business.

    Thank you so much for the reply and for your work. It is a kitchen that has opening (no doors ) to the dining area (dining and living areas in a same plan) If I could somehow send you a picture of it to see…..(do you have email address to send you a picture to see)

    If it is a kitchen that is shared among multiple apartments, then I don’t think it will be allowed. If it is your kitchen, shared amongst your roommates, then that is okay. The fact that it doesn’t have a door to separate it from the dining room is not a determining factor. Those are my thoughts, but ultimately it is up to your environmental health dept to determine whether or not to allow your CFO.

    Hi David, I think I did not explain correctly (because of my bad English) My kitchen is not shared kitchen, it is just has an open floor plan and not sepatated with a door from dining and living area. Do you think it will be ok? And secong it is very small, do you think the size of my kithcen will matter? Thanks again!

    Oh okay. As long as it is your kitchen, and not shared, the floor plan or kitchen size doesn’t matter. The only requirement is that there are doors between the kitchen and sleeping areas. You should be fine.

I am sorry my second question is if I can use sour cream in my pastry dough and gumdrops as a filling. ( I live in CA) Thank you

I would like to know if my label can have some design, logo, colors on it or it should be exactly the same (plain) as sample label? Thank you

the City of Los Angeles and Los Angeles County as a whole is making it difficult for individuals to start a home cottage business. I called the Department of Public Health to get basic information and I got five different stories, plus I was told that each and every item I intended to sell would need to be inspected. I then told that a thorough inspection of the entire residence from roof to foundation would be done, then I would need to wait for the final inspection report decision. LA County is antagonistic toward small business owners. I knew a guy who ran an auto shop and the city un-zoned him without notification. He had to sell his business at a major loss because since he was un-zoned he could no longer operate legally. The City of Los Angeles could decide a person’s residence is not zoned for a home food business and that would basically put an end to that dream.
But, I do have a question for you, I read where you posted that you cannot send your products through the mail. I’ve heard otherwise as long as you are mailing within California and use express or priority mail (2-3 day shipping). What is the definitive answer on mailing product?

    I found the answer to the question I had for you. Section 7 of AB-1616 113758 (a) subdivision (1) reads: “Class A” cottage food operation, which is a cottage food operation that may engage only in direct sales of cottage food products from the cottage food operation or other direct sales venues described in paragraph (4) of subdivision (b).
    Key points are ” “Direct sale” means a transaction between a cottage food operation operator and a consumer, where the consumer purchases the cottage food product directly from the cottage food operation”. Therefore a sale through a business website is a direct sale. The second part that allows for mailing product is “Direct sales include, but are not limited to, transactions at……….”. Direct sales are not limited to is the key phrase.

    paragraph (4) of subdivision (b) reads: (4) “Direct sale” means a transaction between a cottage food operation operator and a consumer, where the consumer purchases the cottage food product directly from the cottage food operation. 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.

    The short answer to your question is no — you cannot mail your cottage food products.

    Also, have you been talking to the environmental health dept? They have approved dozens of CFOs and should know the law well enough to know that you don’t need an inspection if you are only doing direct sales. Also, if you are doing indirect sales (Class B), the only parts of your home that will be inspected are your food prep areas.

    You should plan on it taking about a month or two to get your cottage food permit, and it’s common for it to take awhile for the dept to get back to you (up to two weeks). You might have better luck if you just go to their office.

I’m trying to search for some info on proper lids for canning. I’m making fruit preserves and would like to sell them under cottage law. Specifically, I’m looking at using either since-piece lug lids or single-piece continuous thread (both lined with high heat plastisol). Is there anything that would prevent me from moving forward with this?

    I don’t think there are any rules about what kind of lid you can use. However, two-piece lids are generally viewed as being easier to use, and therefore safer. You could call your health dept to see if they would have a problem with you using a one-piece lid. However, even if they did, it still probably wouldn’t be illegal for you to use them — they could only recommend that you don’t use them (I’m assuming there’s nothing in an ordinance or your CFO application about this). Ultimately, I think it will be up to you to determine if it’s risky and whether you want to assume that risk.

Thank you for all you do. I have a person who is interested in selling the honey he produces (in his backyard) to peers and members of a non-profit (in Sacramento) he gets services from. Could you please give him some guidelines/steps he would have to follow. I would greatly appreciate any information. Thank you.

    Honey is allowed under this law, and he should register as a Class A operation. After reading the info on this page, his first step is to call the environmental health dept.

Hi David – Do you know if this applies to non profits/charities? If so, would each contributor to a charity bake sale require registration/permitting as a CFO? It seems cumbersome for a charity to have to request all baked goods contributors attend a class and apply for CFO registration and pay registration fee. If that is the case I don’t think we will be raising very much money for charity!

Hi, David. Thank you for this site, it answers so many questions And I’ve read through nearly all of them, but I didn’t see (or I missed) my questions.

If I allow someone that lives in my home to use my kitchen for their CFO, do I, as the owner of the home, need a license? Secondly, is there any liability on me if there is ever an issue With the food or health department?

Thank you!

    You don’t need to have a license, but the person needs to get your approval before starting.

    I believe all of the liability would fall to the producer, not you. It’s a little hard to know, because I’m not aware of any such complaint or legal issue ever having happened with a CFO. If anything, such a complaint would be exceedingly rare. If you’re concerned about it, maybe you could draft a document that you and the CFO sign, where you agree that the CFO will assume all liability.

I would like to sell decorated cakes and cookies. I use sugar fondant and I make my icing with pasteurized dried egg whites (and water and sugar). As far as I understand the sugar fondant is ok but what about the pasteurized dried egg whites in the icing?

    Many counties have not been allowing dried egg whites in icing. You need to call your environmental health dept to see how strict they are.

Can a CFO rent kitchen space to individuals in need of space? LA County Commercial Kitchens are requiring a min of 20 hours a week/month and I only need no more than than 5 hours to prep ice, syrup and cotton candy. Also is it possible for me to make the syrups at my farmer’s market location and what information can you provide me about ice does it require a CFO or a Commerical kitchen?
Thanks Lotus

    CFOs can only use their own residential kitchen. They cannot use another kitchen, nor can they make their products at events. All production, including packaging and labeling, must happen at their home.

    CFOs also cannot make ice products, like shaved ice. They can make cotton candy and several types of syrups. It sounds like you will need to use a commercial kitchen to start your business. If you want to have a CFO, you will probably have to change your business plan.

Are there any stipulations in regards to using a CFO for medicinal edible products which would be distributed to medicinal card holders and or cannibus clubs?

    I don’t know, but I assume there are more hoops you have to jump through for that. I recommend you call the health dept.

Hey David, can homemade dog treats be made in my house? I know the law applies to food for human consumption so do you feel thus would be ok?

    A CFO is an individual with a home kitchen, and that person can hire one employee, in addition to getting help from family members who live with them. For two owners, I would recommend setting up a partnership for your business license, and then, if you live separately, decide whose home kitchen will be used and have that person be the owner of the CFO. The other person would technically be their employee, as far as the health dept is concerned, but would be the co-owner of the business, as far as the IRS is concerned. I would not recommend trying to start a cottage food operation with more than two owners.

Hello David,
Thank you for this informational website! I would like to make pizza crusts for sale here at our family winery. We do not have a commercial kitchen, but there are no eggs, cheese, meat in these crusts. They will be used as the base for our commercially produced sauces and cheeses. E.g., a red onion/fig jam and block of brie to be sold with a warm crust.

    Fully baked pizza crusts should be allowed, but I’m not sure if you can merge a cottage food business with a commercial one (I’m assuming the sauces and cheeses are part of a business you own). You should contact the health dept for details about this unique situation.

Hi there,
I am curious if I can JUST sell vegetables from my garden? I know that the Urban Homestead in Pasadena sells fresh cut vegetables from their home to local restaurants. On the list of things you can sell it doesn’t mention any fresh veggies or fruits so I wanted to double check. If not, do you know how they are allowed to sell their veg and what kind of license they have to do so? I know they are doing it legally.
Thanks a bunch,

Hi David, a few quick questions for you
-I am wanting to get a Class A permit to operate as a CFO, do I need to obtain a business License?
-What are all the steps from beginning to end that I need to do in order, to begin selling legally as a CFO?
-I want to register my CFO under an LLC, after which step do I need to do this?

Thank you so much!

Hello, my wife makes a delicious bone broth that is starting to catch on with her friends. We’d like to sell it at the local farmer’s market. I don’t see broth or soups on either the allowed or not allowed list.

Anybody have any info? Thanks! Brad

HI David,

I have made desserts (cupcakes, mini pies, parfaits, etc.) for my large family (60+ people) gatherings for years. Recently, I retired and I would like to donate my services and ingredients to a non profit organizations as an auction item. So, I would be providing baked goods to an individual I may not know for a party they are going to host. The auction donation could be for a very large party (say 50-75 people) and it would have an estimated value associated with the services and ingredients equivalent to market prices. I would anticipate that I might do this 2 or 3 times a year. Technically I am not selling my food goods but the non profit organization would receive a donation as an auction bid in return. Do I need to form a a CFO in order to do this?

    You should be exempt from needing a license if you are donating the food, and if your food does not require refrigeration. So most cakes would be okay, but a parfait would not. You can ask your health dept if you need to get any special permit, but I think the exemption will prevent you from needing anything.

Hi David!
I wanted to get a Class B license to sell cookies (I make a decorative cookie from other cookies and frosting and misc). I wondered if there is any type of insurance you can get incase someone gets sick or something? Like errors and omissions insurance for agents and lenders….
Also, do you know off hand how long to get a permit in Alameda county?

Hi David,
Wow, what a great site, thank you! I’m planning to sell homemade chocolate truffles, almond oat crispy cookies and a raw vegan chocolate caramel bar made with dates, primarily at the local Farmers Markets in San Bernardino County. I know there is a specific food handler’s certificate required for this county and I know I need the Class A Cottage license, but what about a sales permit? Is this covered by the event? I was online reviewing the application with the BoE and they require a code, 5 digits, for the ‘business’ classification and no drop down menu. If I need this permit, which code would I use. I am not a ‘retail bakery’ which was the closest code I could find. I appreciate having the forum to ask this. Thanks.

    I’ve heard that some CFOs get a sellers permit and some don’t need to. If your farmers market requires one, then you definitely need it; otherwise, I’m pretty sure it depends on your county. The NAICS code I’ve heard others use is 44529, since your products will be consumed off the premises.

    I don’t know of one right now. If there was one, it would be happening in the current legislative session. If you want to work with a legislator to get it increased, you’ll likely have to wait until the next session, which is the beginning of next year.

Hi David, my family are raisin farmers in Central Valley CA. We would like to begin selling our raisins at a farmers market. The raisins will have been to the packer, washed, processed, de stemmed, and sorted already. My question is, do we need a Class A license in order to take those raisins from the bulk box and package them into smaller bags?
Again, there’s no cooking or other processing happening, just repackaging.
Thank you so much for untangling all this legal jargon for people!

    So this is your own product that you’ve hired a copacker to package? I think you would need a cottage food license, but there may be some special permit that allows you to repackage a good without it being considered processing. Sorry, I really don’t know. A special permit would likely be provided by the ag dept; otherwise, you need to check with your health dept about the laws on this.

Hi David and thanks so much for this much needed information!
There is one thing that I’m not too clear on and that is whether or not, with a class A permit, I can sell ouside of my county (San Francisco). If I can’t then are there special permits/requests that would allow me to sell directly to consumers around California? One more question: if I start out with the idea of selling just one type of product and then want to add more types of products, is that allowed? If so, what needs to be done? Thanks again!!

    Yes, the law changed last year to allow you to directly sell anywhere in the state. It is only with indirect sales that you need special permission to sell in other counties.

    You can add products, but counties have different processes for adding them. Some counties let you send in your new labels and give the green light without charging you, while others charge another permit fee for adding products (sometimes hundreds of dollars). So you need to check with your county before making a decision, because it can be an important one.

Thinking of applying for the class A permit. Thought about doing bbq chicken with a combination of white rice and macaroni salad as a combo plate. The location where im thinking of setting this will varied on location to see where i can make most of the business. Is this something that i can do without any problem from the county of sacramento?

I am the owner of a CFO in Yuba County, city of Marysville, California. I make gourmet jams and jellies. Im trying to understand the law regarding me selling my product at locations such as doctors office, salons and restaurants. Does the location have to have a permit to sell food products, retail food license or do they just need to advertise that the product is made in a home kitchen. Ive looked online for such a statement, with luck. Thank you ahead of time for your help!

Cyndee Lou

    I assume you are planning on having those locations sell the product for you? If so, you would need a Class B permit, and with that permit, a restaurant (or any food establishment) would be able to offer your product for sale. I believe that other locations need some sort of permit to sell food, but it’s not nearly as complicated as becoming a food establishment, as long as they are only selling pre-packaged, non-potentially hazardous foods. So, yes, I believe they need to get some kind of permit, but I don’t think it would be difficult or expensive for them to get one. You need to talk to the health dept about the rules regarding this.

Hi David!

Thank you so much for all of this great information! My partner sells Chinese medicinal herbs, for which a California Seller’s Certificate is required. There’s a tea that comes in bulk from her supplier, which she packages in jars and sells in her clinic, under the Seller’s Certificate.

It’s quite delicious and very popular, and a local store-owner has asked to buy some jars for resale. Does this sound like something that would require a Class B Cottage Foods license?

Thank you so much for your help!



    Does she already operate under a Class A registration? The cottage food law is only intended for items prepared in a home kitchen, so it sounds like this wouldn’t fall under the cottage food law. If your partner is currently repackaging the items in her home kitchen, then she probably currently needs a Class A registration, and in that case, the Class B permit may be applicable for resale to a store. Otherwise, this would fall under some other law and you’ll need to talk to the health dept.

Hi David, thanks so much for providing this wealth of information!

I have been considering using to cook and serve a meal in my own home and, until I found this site on a unrelated search, I hadn’t even considered the need for licenses or anything. Having read all this information and many of your replies to other comments, it seems like this may not be allowed at all. I can’t find any information on the Feastly site, what’s your opinion on if this would be ok and what would be required?

    Websites like that have become an extremely popular trend recently — a trend that is unlikely to go away. From a technical, legal perspective, it is illegal if you are receiving compensation for the meal. I don’t personally think that calling it a “donation” bypasses any legal barriers. What you are essentially doing is starting a restaurant in your home, which is breaking the law on multiple fronts — for one, because businesses aren’t supposed to operate in neighborhoods (zoning laws), and two, because restaurants that serve meals on their premises must follow strict codes and use a commercial kitchen (health laws).

    Two things help those sites: 1) it’s very hard to regulate individuals that invite people to their home and receive compensation, and 2) this industry is still small enough that it isn’t worth the health dept’s time to crack down on it. It’s also important to note that the websites themselves are not doing anything illegal, even though all of their users are breaking the law. As a user of their site, you will carry all of the risk associated with running an illegal business — in other words, you wouldn’t have any legal ground to stand on if something goes wrong.

    However, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t do this. I personally would — mostly because I believe that that kind of activity shouldn’t be illegal in the first place. People who use those sites make great connections, and it seems beneficial for everyone, as long as it’s on a small scale. I’m just clarifying the risks that you are assuming by using their site, so you can make an informed decision based on your needs.

    BTW, if you offered your meals for free (just for fun), you wouldn’t have to worry about the legal restrictions.

    Thanks so much for this in depth and insightful response! I did wonder if it fell under the “this is new and laws don’t specifically exist for this scenario yet”. I guess we’ll be seeing something similar to the AirBnB situation when this grows a bit bigger.

    You mention offering meals for free and I’ll definitely consider that as an option. Do you think it would still be illegal to take payment solely to cover the cost of the ingredients? Not dissimilar to asking your friends to all chip in if you bought all the stuff for a party or picnic and they paid you back afterwards.

    Thanks :)

    Yes, it would be illegal to take a payment to cover ingredient costs. Amazingly enough, if your friend gives you $10 to help out with dinner, that would also technically be illegal. But the health dept wouldn’t really care about that — if you are consistently engaging in business activities, they’d likely care a lot more.

David, thank you so much for all of this information! There has been a lack of transparency regarding food laws for quite some time and I applaud you for the work that you are doing.

Hey David,

I was planning on opening my bakery by April and I have sent my application to the health department. My county is located in Los Angeles and I am just wondering if you know how long it might take.

Hi, I plan to sell my baked goods at farmers markets under Class A. All my products are mini, so ideally I would like people to pick and chose from the selection at the farmers market, then package their products on spot. Is this permitted under the California Cottage Food Law or do I have to package at my home? Thank you!!

    I think the intent of the law is for packaging to be done at home, but I have seen many CFOs package products on the spot like this. Some health depts won’t allow it and some will.

What if I’m looking into preparing cooked healthy meals such as meats and veggies or rice & grains for my home business? I’m not showing that it’s allowed or prohibited anywhere online.

I would like to add pickled okra to my cottage food repertoire. I was surprised to see that “pickles” are not on the CFO list. In reading your previous posts, it seems that pickles are not on the list because there is no requirement for canning training. How can this issue be changed? Why is it okay for fruit to be canned into jams and jellies, but veggies that are pickled with vinegar are not allowed?

    Pickled items are much more susceptible to the risk of botulism than sugary jams and jellies. The CDPH does update the allowed food list from time to time, but don’t expect pickled items to be added anytime soon… I’m almost positive that they have thoroughly considered that request already. I’d recommend going the commercial route to start your pickled okra business.

Hey David,
I am planning on opening a baking company in the Los Angeles area and I plan on using sour cream as one of the ingredients for a cookie. Can I still use sour cream and if not do you know what I may substitute for it in the cottage food law rules.

    You need to contact your environmental health dept to see if they will allow sour cream in a thoroughly baked good. Some will not allow it at all. If not, ask if they will allow yogurt as a substitute. If not, look up non-dairy substitutes online — there are a lot of options and opinions. As with any substitute, the end result won’t be quite the same so the best alternative may be to eliminate it altogether.

This may have been asked already. I have been asked to bake a cake for my sister’s friend. I reside in Escondido, north San Diego county. Would I need to apply for the class A if I plan on charging for this cake? It will be my first.

I am applying in Riverside County and working on my labels and recipes. I am wondering about ingredients baked into the product like heavy cream, Parmesan cheese, sour cream, buttermilk. Example, I make Florentines that have heavy cream in the recipe, a cheddar cheese bread, with the cheese baked into the loafs. Parmesan cheese straws. Are these products considered non-potentially hazardous if they contain these ingredients. None of these products need refrigeration after they are baked. I have looked for a detail explication online but thus far no results. If these are not allowed then why are eggs, butter?
Thank you,

    Riverside is one of the less lenient counties and they’ll probably say no to all of those ingredients. Cheese is definitely not allowed under any circumstance. Sometimes items with milk (or even cream) in them that are thoroughly baked are allowed because the water in the milk evaporates, thereby lowering the product’s water activity to a safe level.

    However, many counties have been disallowing anything with the term “cream” or “milk”. Butter is allowed because it has a lower water activity level than cream and it is safe at room temperature on it’s own. Eggs are non-potentially hazardous when thoroughly baked into a product, but a product like scrambled eggs wouldn’t be allowed under the cottage food law.

    Truthfully, the real definition for what should be allowed shouldn’t be based on ingredients, because it really depends on the characteristics of the final product, but the health dept has started using fixed rules to make things more clear and easier on them, even though that further restricts what you can make. If you want to produce these items without restriction, you should use a commercial kitchen.

I live in Elk Grove and I have already registered for a business license with the city of Elk Grove. I know I need to get my food handlers certification and register my fictitious name with the County of Sac, however do I also need to get a business license with the city of Sac? I do not live in that city, but I will be selling my baked goods (cakes, cupcakes, etc) to people who live in both areas.

    I don’t think you need a business license in the other areas of the state where you will be selling, but you do need to get registered with the Sacramento County environmental health dept.

Hi, I’m interested in selling fruit juices and making and bottling them in a local town owned business building’s kitchen. Is it possible to get the kitchen registered as a commercial kitchen?

    It should be possible to convert it into a commercial kitchen, but it could be expensive as there are many requirements to adhere to. You would not be using this cottage food law and you need to talk with your local health dept.

Hi David,
What happens if a CFO without a permit receives a cease and desist notice from the DOH and the CFO continues their business anyway, what happens next? Fyi, this is not for my business.

    It’s up to the health dept to decide what to do. I’m not sure and it’s different for each county… they would probably be fined.

How would I got about getting licensed as a commercial food processor to make hot sauce? Once I have the license, I’ll then be able to sell it Farmers Markets/Craft Fairs/etc. Is that correct?

    You need to use a commercial kitchen and you need to talk with your county’s health dept about getting a license. You will be able to sell in any venue once you get setup.

Hello David-

I think I understand this correctly but wanted to double check.
Question- Do I need to obtain a General business license as in an LLC, S Corp or the likes and obtain a CFO’s license?

Thank you for the great info!

Los Angeles

Hi David i wanted to ask you if there are ways where I can sell homemade food as prepared food, like lasagnas, or meatballs or pastas with different kind of sauce, is there any way that I can follow

Hi! I would like to sell honey, mostly to friends or word of mouth locally. I have an llc for my non- meat fiber farm. What can you tell me about selling honey? Thank you so much!

    You should be able to use the cottage food law to sell your honey, though I doubt you’ll be able to operate under your LLC. You may have to get a separate business license depending on the requirements of your county. Do you have any specific questions?

Hi I was looking into making a selling bread for birds this would be made in my kitchen at home. I wanted to start sells at farmers markets as I’ve seen people selling home made breads there before. Is this allowed? Would this fall under the cottage act? Could I sell homemade bread at a farmers market? Do you know anything that could help me with this?! I am starting a parrot rescue and was hoping this would help money wise.

    The cottage food law is only for food items intended for human consumption. The fact that your product is intended for birds actually drastically changes what’s required for you to produce it, and I believe you would need to use a commercial kitchen (even though it may very well be the exact same product that you could legally sell to people under the cottage food law). You should contact the ag dept to learn what you need for your specific case.

HI David
great information!! i have a unique situation… i would like to start a selling cakes, cupcakes and cookies and was thinking of getting the Class A CFO. I used to live in San Diego County, however I recently moved to Ensenada which is about 1 hr from the US border and all my sales would be in San Diego, Orange and LA County. I spend most of my time in the US but since technically i live in Mexico, Im not sure how to proceed.
Can you help??

    If you don’t primarily live in CA, then you can’t use the cottage food law. Unfortunately, I think it would be really complicated for you to sell food in CA that is produced internationally, but you could check with the health dept to see how you could do that. It’s also worth noting that since you live in Mexico, you can’t simply cross over the border and produce items from a secondary home in CA.

If I wanted to sell a small amount of fresh produce from my garden or fruit tree, would I need any Licencesure?
Thanks a bunch

    As long as it’s uncut, you shouldn’t need any licensing from the ag dept. However, check with your planning division to see if you need to get a sellers permit.

David, thank you so much for this information. I am moving to cali soon and my husband owns a large auto body and dealership business there. He wants me to have my baked goods for his customers in his customer waiting area with a small sign that says if customers liked what they tried to contact me to order more. He thinks home baked goods will appeal to our customer base. I mostly specialize in cookies and quick breads. I am assuming that in order to operate this way I will need a class b license right since I’m technically selling although I’m really just providing refreshments? Thanks for all of your help.

    I really don’t know what your environmental health dept will say about this… it may not be possible at all. I believe that a Class B license assumes that the third-party selling your products will be licensed to sell food, which your husband’s auto shop would not be. My guess is that there wouldn’t be a real distinction with Class A and B in this case. I think it will come down to whether or not the health dept considers your husband to be part of your business and approves him sampling your products at his business. Some depts would definitely say no, but there may be some that would be more lenient and allow it. Whatever the case, they will have the final say and you’ll need to call them. Sorry I can’t be of more help!

Hi David,
Curious about starting a tea business at home in San Bernardino county mountains. for tea, does it matter if it is loose and must be packaged or does it have to come to me in pre packaged bag form?

Thank you,

Hi! Thanks for all the amazing info you have researched and supplied. It’s wonderful. I was just wondering, do fresh potted herbs fall under Cottage Food Laws. I don’t believe so, but I would like to be sure (I know in Indiana Dried Herbs fall into this category). I want to sell my herbs in beautiful pots as indoor herb gardens.

    They don’t fall under this law, as the cottage food law is only for food items prepared/processed in a home kitchen. Typically the sale of plants and produce don’t require licensing from the ag dept.

Hi David. This site is a wonderful resource and as I’ve been developing my cottage food business I’ve come back to it numerous times. I appreciate the tremendous amount of work you’ve put into it! I’m wondering if you can clarify the amount of sugar vs. fruit required to make jams and jellies. My health department is telling me I must have more sugar by weight than fruit. That’s not how I understood the Federal Food Code – although as you stated above it’s very complicated so I’m not confident I truly understand it. I’ve checked many recipes from all sorts of sources and the vast majority do not call for that much sugar – not even Ball, Sure-Jell, etc. Can you clarify this?

    That section of the food code is so confusing. Take a look at Part 150.140(d)(1) — in a very complicated way the code states that jelly must have at least 55 parts sugar for every 45 parts fruit (technically that’s 45 parts fruit solids, which is a measurement that’s equally complicated to come by, described in 150.140(d)(2)).

    On a less technical level, I can say that I personally make pomegranate jelly, and the recipe calls for 4.5 cups sugar to 3.5 cups pure pomegranate juice. By weight, there’s a little more sugar than juice, but to accurately figure out this ratio, you need to calculate the number of fruit solids in the juice. I haven’t done that, but I’m guessing it probably meets the 45/55 ratio, since almost every pomegranate jelly recipe I’ve researched has a similar ratio of sugar to juice.

    Part 150.160 (about jams) is even more complicated, splitting types of jams into groups, but either way, there does need to be more sugar than fruit solids.

    Honestly, although I’ve perused the code many times before, I didn’t really fully understand all of this until now. Fortunately, I just stumbled across a wonderful resource that does a great job explaining what 21 CFR 150 actually means.

    It is not to say that jams or jellies can’t be made with lower quantities of sugar… it’s just that those recipes are not currently allowed under the cottage food law in CA.

    Hello David. Thank you for writing. Dept of Public Health said you have to have a commercial kitchen. However, there are two businesses I know of in the LA area that have been working out of their kitchens for years and one of them has the on their webpage. Is there anyway around this? Ingredients maybe? I want the treats to be all natural. The other company makes fresh (vet approved) doggy dinners and they are frozen. They also ship nationwide. Please see below and help if you can. Thank you, Rosanne

    ♥ We are CERTIFIED by the Health Department of both the city of Los Angeles and the state of California. You can be assured our treats meet health and safety guidelines. ♥

    I’m not really an expert on this, but as far as I know, in this case it is the fact that the product is not intended for human consumption. I’m sure that your treats are very safe, even when produced in a home, but my guess is that any business using their home kitchen to produce and sell pet treats is doing so illegally.

    Great information, Thank you. I live and have a home based dog treat business in Fl. Have my necessary licenses from the county as well as Fl Dept of Agriculture. Florida states I cannot ship outside state lines unless i abide by the receiving states’ Dept of Ag guidelines. I cannot seem to find if I can ship my treats made in Florida to a consumer in CA. Also, can a business in CA buy my treats wholesale and resell them in CA? Thank you in advance.

    Dori, I wasn’t even aware that a homemade pet treat business was possible in Florida. What license did you use to set that up?

    I am quite certain that CA wouldn’t allow any kind of homemade food from another state to be sold in their state… they are very strict about that.

I am starting to make Seasoned/Herb Salts and would like to sell them at Farmers Markets and campgrounds in my travels. Are there any exceptions to just selling in your home state? Is there a way to sell in multiple states? Is it acceptable to sell by approximate weight, such as per scoop = approx 1 oz?

Hi David,
we owned the restaurant , we make frozen samosa (indian pastry in , beef and chicken ) and sell in our restaurant, we are thinking to make professional bag and distribute it , we based in California , would you please advise what is legal way to do that . Its frozen item and we are selling since 2008 , people love it .

    I’m not really well informed about production and distribution processes that fall outside of the cottage food industry. I’d recommend calling your health dept.

    Hey David i wanted to ask a question i want to open a hotdog stand when I was looking how to get a health permit do i half to do that food processor course to get a permit?

    Sorry, I really don’t know much about the food industry beyond home-based businesses. You should contact your health dept for answers, but I’m almost certain that you will need to take at least one training course before you can open a hotdog stand.

    I personally dislike the law’s use of the term “preserves”, because there are so many different interpretations of it. Many items that are considered “preserves” are not allowed in CA, and I think the law intends to allow sweetened fruit preserves only. However, if your jars of lemons are properly canned and sealed, they may be allowed by your health dept, simply due to their high acidity level. My guess is that they still would not allow them, but it’s possible.

Great overview, thanks! I see that roasted coffee is an approved item on the food list. Additionally it is specifically noted that dried coffee, not brewed coffee is permitted.

What do the regulations say about brewed coffee and would I need a permit, either class A or B, to sell brewed coffee at a certified farmers market or event? Thanks!

    I have heard that there are special permits in some counties for items like brewed coffee. However, I don’t know if a CFO would qualify to receive a permit like that, or if you would need to get a commercial license to do this. Either way, you need to talk to your county’s health dept since the answer depends on their requirements.

We own citrus groves. Why not juices? If the juices are never handled by a person without gloves, hairmet, and are refrigerated immediately after squeezing, why not?


My sister and I have been making Gift in Jar (mixes) for friends and family members for a few years now that we give to them as gifts for the holiday seasons and we were thinking of maybe trying to start selling them either on line (Esty or making our own site) or in person (making a little booklet that show what she sell and people could order actually from us). The jars themselves would only have the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, etc.) and then were come with a little lapel or list of the wet ingredients or anything else that they were have to add (eggs, milk, etc.).

We were wondering if this is doing and if so, what would we need to be able to do it?

    For direct, in-person sales, you can use the cottage food law and get a Class A registration to start this business (all the info is above). You can also sell online and deliver in-person with this method. However, in many counties, there’s little chance that you could get all the paperwork finalized and your business setup within one month.

    If you want to sell online and ship legally, you need to use a commercial kitchen to prepare your jars, as well as needing a different kind of license. With this route, it’s likely that you wouldn’t be starting your business until next year.

Hi. I was wondering if there are special requirements that must be met before labeling cottage food as Vegan or Vegetarian. I tried to find out on the various websites sites, such as FDA, CDPH, etc. It has specific guidelines for nutritional statements but does not specifically mention vegan or vegetarian cottage food. thanks for your reply

    As far as I know, there aren’t any extra requirements needed to label your products as vegetarian or vegan, as neither are considered health claims. I have seen many CFOs in CA label their products like that.

I have been reading through this forum and haven’t come across exactly what I am looking for. I was wondering if it were legal to render my own lard and tallow (beef fat) and sell to family, friends and acquaintances? it does not require refrigeration. I am also in Alameda county (if that helps) Thanks in advance!!

    You’ll need to talk to your environmental health dept about both questions. I think the first one depends on where you’re getting the fruit from (commercially-produced?), what kind of fruit you’re using, and how it’s incorporated into the candy. The second question is really county-dependent, but I know some counties do allow alcohol to be incorporated into products, sometimes with extra licensing.

Question. A group of people in our home owners’ association wants to have a holiday craft bazaar in Nov where food is served. This food is prepared in a resident’s kitchen by a person who has not gone through the proper training or had her kitchen inspected.. The food served would be: tacos and cookies and some other sweets. This person has provided food in the past with no one getting sick. Is this an issue the association should be concerned about in case someone does get sick from her food and if so, who is liable if anyone gets sick?
thank you
betsy shipley===Ventura county CA

    You need to talk to your health dept to get official answers, but I can say that selling homemade tacos is definitely illegal, regardless of whether or not anyone’s likely to get sick. A licensed cottage food operation (no kitchen inspection required) could make and sell homemade cookies, though. An HOA is able to disallow any of this kind of activity… one can even prevent a legal CFO from operating, though I hope that wouldn’t happen. My guess is that the person making the food would be liable for breaking the law… I don’t know if the HOA would share any liability.

Hi David,
I make a spicy caramel sauce that contains butter and heavy cream that I can, does this count as an acceptable product under cottage food act? I see that caramel is okay but wasn’t sure about a sauce.


    I’d say it’s fairly unlikely that this will get approved by your environmental health dept. I know there are some counties where it absolutely wouldn’t be allowed, and it’s possible that no county would allow a sauce like that. If you need to refrigerate it, then it definitely won’t be allowed.

Hi David, I actually love baking Chocolate Crinkle Cookies and Red Velvet Crinkles, and brought some at work one time, my co workers were askin’ me if they can order some.
Can I sell them my Homemade Cookies and and see if i can get more orders before getting a permit. Thanks and hope to hear back soon

If I sell to businesses do my products have to be individually packaged and labeled? I’m thinking of selling my baked goods to coffee shops. If I see a bulk package of items then they can sell them as their own. Is this within the cottage food law?

    With a class B license, it’s possible for a restaurant to use your product in one of their dishes, but they must notify the customer that the dish includes something that was made in a home kitchen. Because of this ruling, it may be possible for a company to repackage your product, as long as the end label clearly states that the product was partially or wholly made in a home kitchen. I don’t actually think your health dept would allow that, but it’s a possibility. It’s up to your health department to decide, so you need to talk to them.

Hi David, I scrolled through several questions and couldn’t find mine specifically. Have you heard whether LA County requires each individual label to be uploaded for a permit, or only a sample? It was unclear to me on the website. Also, to apply for a permit in LA County, must I list each item that I plan to sell on the application…or is it possible to add items not listed throughout the year? Thank you–your website has been tremendously helpful!

    I don’t try to keep up with all the different county requirements, but I do happen to know that LA asks for every label. I don’t know if they’ve now changed their policy after having received hundreds of label variations from some CFOs, but I doubt it.

    To add products throughout the year, you would need to send the additional labels to the dept for approval before you could sell them. I’m not sure whether or not they charge a fee for that (some counties charge per hour, some charge another entire permit fee, and some don’t charge at all).

Hi, thank you for this wonderful information. I would like to sell fruit tarts/pies/galettes. Can I sell cut fruits in my baked goods, like apple/peach/apricot or must they only be whole fruits like berries?

    As long as they are incorporated into the product and thoroughly baked, using cut fruit is usually fine. For instance, apple pies are allowed. However, you cannot garnish your products with fresh cut fruit.

I am trying to get a cottage permit for selling my jams however I am not planning on using my own kitchen. My kitchen is much too small, and so the restaurant that I work for has offered me the use of their kitchen. I will be selling the product in their store. Is this arrangement possible under the laws. Also the approved foods lists says nothing about products like canned peaches, canned pie filling, applesauce. are these items allowed?

    If you’re using a commercial kitchen you need a commercial license. This law is specifically for micro-businesses with small production needs, and cottage food operations can only use their home kitchen. Canned peaches and applesauce are not allowed under this law, and canned pie filling may be allowed.

    If a person is selling without any permits or reporting.the income what is the fines that can be implemented on them?

    The health dept is responsible for shutting down illegal businesses, and there are probably different procedures for each county, so I don’t think there is a fixed answer. In my opinion, a much larger concern is that someone who is operating illegally has no legal ground to stand on, so they won’t have a business license or be able to get insurance, and if they are ever sued, they won’t have any law to back up their business practices.

If i am selling fresh roasted coffee at a farmers market, am i allowed to brew coffee so that customers can sample it? brewing not to sell but for a free taste. Thanks

I have a question about making vinegar mixed with sugar, spices, and ground fresh fruit. Can I do that with a class A license if I cook and can it like jelly or jam? Thanks

    So would this essentially be a flavored vinegar? A lot of it depends on how flexible your environmental health dept is. Because it contains fresh fruit, I think they would at least have you get the product tested in a lab. Assuming it doesn’t require refrigeration, I think that a number of health depts would allow this, and some would say no.

Hello, I’m trying to get a license to sell hot sauce. What is the process for getting it so that I can sell at a farmers market or chile festival… ?

    Hi David…I was wandering if it’s allowed to use already made store bought items? assembling items and repackaging them for resale. and as for roadside stands what is required?

    If you’re simply reselling packaged items, then that requires a separate permit. If you are handling their contents in your kitchen, such as removing a dry mix from one jar and putting it in your own, then these laws could apply, as long as the final product is allowed anyway. For instance, you would not be able to buy hot sauce, open the bottle, and eventually resell it. You should be aware of some other concerns:

Exactly what is “Seasoning Salt”? It would seem to me that that is already covered under the law. What’s so special that it needs an exemption?

    That’s what I thought… it should have already been allowed. Some counties are being overly restrictive on what they allow (they say no if it’s not explicitly on the list), so I can only assume that some county disallowed seasoning salt and a CFO requested that it be added.

Hi David,
I have an Orange County Class B Cottage Food License and I am currently selling direct to consumers in Orange and Los Angeles Counties. I recently applied to Ventura County for a TFF to sale at the Westlake Village Farmers Market and I was denied due to my Cottage Food being out of Orange County. Have you heard of Counties doing this? Is there a way to appeal that you know of? Or was the person at the health office simply incorrect?



    If the decision is coming from the health dept, then yes, that is incorrect. If the farmers market doesn’t like out-of-county vendors, then there’s not much you can do about it. I don’t think a county can prevent you from selling directly there… it is only indirect sales that need a county-to-county agreement. If they disallowed you simply because you’re from a different county, I believe they would be breaking the law.

    Thats what I thought. So what would you suggest? Write them a letter? It was the county health department that said no.

    First, make sure you’re talking with the environmental health dept. And be sure that they’re familiar with the law and figure out what legal backing their ruling is standing on. If they can’t show you and associated law, then that might be a good place to start.

Hello I had a question in regards to the allowed “fruits” if any. I know jams & jellies are allowed, and also fruit empanadas are allowed, but I live in CA (sacramento county) and I am looking into what kind of permit I need to sell fresh fruit, basically it’s a type of fruit cocktail that is in a cup, it consists of fresh fruit & lime, there is no dairy or cream used at all. Would this be something allowed under the cottage food permit, or if not is there any other permit in CA that I can look into?

    I was looking online and I thought this would fall under maybe a street food vendor permit Cetegory B under mobile food vendor. There are many street vendors that sell fruit cups and have permits, they have the fruit there ate their stand with them, on the side of the road. I wanted more to sell from home, but if I have to be mobile to get the permit I will.

    I’m pretty unfamiliar with all the other regulations. This may be possible with a mobile vendor permit, but you still might need to do the actual preparation in a commercial kitchen. I know that caterers must use a commercial kitchen, even though they serve the food outside of one. You don’t need to jump through as many hoops to resell a commercially-produced item that you buy. You need to talk to the health dept, who can clarify specific circumstances and tell you what you need.

Hello, David. Thank you always for your useful comments. We are submitting “class B” at the CFO in San Diego county , CA. We contacted grocery store to promote our product ( jam ) and was told that we have to obtain “safety certifications” such as GMP and HACCP to meet their requirements as supplier. Now our questions are : (1) Can you refer us any organization where we can ask for the process of having those safety certifications in San Diego, CA? (2) Or, we even shouldn’t try to have those certifications because our operation is too small to obtain them? Please give us advice.

    I’m afraid I won’t be of much use to you here. I have heard a little about how requiring all CFOs to operate under the HACCP system would be impractical and nearly impossible. I think it would be both difficult and expensive. I do know that the grocery store has the right to require this, though.

    I’d recommend that you call your environmental health dept to try to learn more. If you learn anything valuable, I’d love for you to share it on here!

I truly appreciate all your responses and information on this website, it’s been very helpful. I will be applying for my DBA and a Class A CFO for my home cake pop business. What other permits should I search for? i.e. business, seller permit, health, fire, etc? I hear about so many different permits and licenses, I just want to know what I really need to look into..
Second, I use cake mix and frosting (that you can purchase at a grocery store) for my cake pops.. How do I use that in my CFO food label? – Thank you!!

Hello David, thanks for being so responsive to all the questions.
My questions are concerning “herb blends” and “vinegars” Can they be fresh, fresh and held in a solution, or dried herbs? I read a couple of your replies and saw that one said some flavored vinegars/oils would be okay, but another one said garlic oil would not be okay. Does this mean anything that is technically not an herb cannot be used to flavor an oil or vinegar? IE shallots cannot be used, but chives can?

    Garlic and oil is a special exception that all states disallow, since that mixture promotes rapid bacteria growth. It doesn’t mean that other flavorings are disallowed. You will need to check with your environmental health dept to determine exactly what they will permit.

    Dried herbs are part of the cottage food law. Fresh herbs are usually considered simple uncut produce, and there is little regulation for selling those. Selling fresh herbs in a solution would probably require a commercial license.

I am currently awaiting approval from my Class A application (Monterey County). I want to know if I need to report anything to the IRS. This may sound like a silly question, but I haven’t been able to get an answer anywhere! Thanks in advance!!

    You don’t need to right now. You need to pay income taxes every year, and you may have to pay estimated taxes quarterly if your self-employment income is high enough.

This may be a silly question. The Class A says the Food Processor course must be taken, but everything else is labeled as “food handler card.” Is that the same thing? And does that have to be completed before applying for the Class A?

So home made baby foods are now allowed at this time as they need to be refrigerated? Do you know if this is something that might be changing in the near future? But Sauerkraut will be allowed starting August 1st?

    If something requires refrigeration, it will not be allowed anytime soon. Where are you getting that info about sauerkraut? I have not heard of plans to allow it.

Hello David, my name is James and my girlfriend is interested in starting a small bakery business. I looked into the cottage food license as well as classes A and B. I read into the questions you’ve answered online, but I am still unsure how to go about it step by step. Can u help me with any links or referrals? Thanks.

I just spoke with a rep from the Orange County Certified Farmer’s Markets and was told I need a Class B license to sell at the FM…even thought I am selling directly to the public. Anyone else experience this?

    You don’t need a Class B permit to sell at a farmers market, but they might want you to get one so you can have your kitchen inspected. If that is what they require, then you have to follow their rules.

Could a commercial kitchen-based business do prep of ingredients that CFO operators could buy to prepare their own CFO products? Think of it as a “CFO Hub”. This would enable CFO operators to purchase bulk prepped local ingredients for standard CFO products to save money, improve product quality and increase local biz/job opportunities. The CFO Hub could also provide CFO training and access to CFO startup/expansion money and equipment. What do you think, David?

    It’s an interesting idea and I don’t see anything legally problematic with it. CFOs can buy commercial products to use in their products. However, most of the local products CFOs use are raw (not value-added), so I’m not quite sure what kind of prep you’re thinking of?

Hello David, I would like to know if we may sell home made vegetarian lunch box? It may contain cooked rick, noodles, vegetables, tofu, soy-products, etc. No meat item will be used at all. I saw you mention the foods that need to put in refrigerator is not allowed. Is that for all counties? Thank you!

Where can I find a list of paramaters of what one can make in the home for friends & family, and receive compensation, without needing a cottage license?

Hi David, vinaigrettes and mustards and mayonnaises – those are products I want to sell as a CFO. What is the rule on egg/egg yolk products that contain 21% acidity (from vinegar or lime/lemon juice). These are condiments/dressings and will require refrigeration . Allowed or not allowed? Your thoughts…


    Anything requiring refrigeration is not allowed. Mustards and some flavored vinegars/oils may be allowed by your environmental health dept.

David, Thank you for helping so many people navigate sometimes confusing laws & regulations!
I am looking into regulations for selling cookies from a home kitchen. I was planning on selling them on a website such as, but it appears that if I do use this site, I would not (legally) be able to ship to customers, correct? (I live in Shasta County). It also looks like shipping through online sales is not allowed at all? Or is it in-state only?
Would I still be able to sell through the site if I clarify that all baked/food items are for local pick up only?
Thank you so much for your help!

    You’re right, shipping is not allowed at all (I don’t believe Shasta has allowed it). If you could specify local pickup only on Etsy, then that would be allowed, but I don’t know if their system can do that.

I have a huge fig tree that makes a lot of fruit every year that I can in a water bath with sugar or sugar substitute, lemon or lime for acid and pectin, either from apples directly or from commercial pectin. I was thinking of selling it at a local farmers market, is this allowed under Class A? I do not see any regulation discussing fresh figs, lime or lemon juice in the mix. All my friends love the fig jelly and my tree produces more than I can give away for birthdays and holidays. Not doing this for the money, just for the fun of growing and making. Great site btw that I found tonight!

David, please contact me thru my email as I am in Orange County and could help out!

    Also have fresh blackberry and strawberry grown in my own garden that I turn into jelly when I have high production time for small batches, like just one canning round with 8 mason pint jars.

    Jams and jellies are allowed, but cut fresh fruit is not. Selling uncut produce doesn’t fall under the cottage food law and actually has very little regulation. It sounds like most of what you’re trying to do would be fine.

Hello, I live in Santa Clara county and want to have prepared food, fresh cut fruits, and crock pot pork…. Would cottage license work? Or what kind of license do I need to have basic food at my cafe since I have no kitchen there.

I see that confections are now allowed. I make my fudge using mascarpone cheese, do you know if that ingredient would be allowed? The no cheese rule is confusing. The fudge does not need refrigeration and is cooked at high temperatures as per most fudge recipes.

    Confections actually are allowed (just not listed), but I doubt your health dept will let you put mascarpone cheese in anything. That’s a pretty firm rule no matter how it’s prepared.

With a Class A permit where can you sell your product? Can you set up a table outside or would you still need a permit for that?

    You can sell anywhere in the Venues section above except for retail stores and restaurants. If you’re trying to setup a table on a sidewalk, you need to call your planning division to see if it’s in an approved zone.

Hi, David!
I want to sell French macarons which consist of egg whites, sugar, and almond flour. Can I apply for Class A in order to sell them? Thank you for your help.

How do you go about fighting or appealing these laws? For example in the case of fermented foods.
It’s a bit bizarre that so many unhealthful foods are fine to sell! I mean salt and sugar are great but where’s the spice?!

    Actually David, the FDA states that fermented foods do not have a risk of botulism and have removed it from their own working documents. It is a bit confusing, but there is a difference between pickled foods and fermented foods. (See for the horse’s mouth.)

    Fermented foods means an unpasteurized, non-canned food where we create an environment so the “good” microorganisms can outcompete the bad ones. Whereas a pickled food could include a pasteurized, canned food where all bacteria were killed, and if the food was improperly canned, then it’s easier for Clostridium botulinum to come in, dominate, and cause botulism.

    I’m in Hawai‘i where we’re in the process of passing a cottage food bill and I’m working to get these differences outline.

    Wow, thanks for sharing that info. It is all very confusing and I’m still not entirely sure about the differences between acidified, pickled, fermented, etc, but oh well. I learn more over time.

    That’s really interesting because almost all states disallow fermented foods, including some that allow certain types of pickled goods.

    Please post a comment to the Hawaii page when your cottage food bill makes progress!

Hello; I make sea salts (for cooking) using ocean water which I filter, pour into shallow trays, and dry naturally (under the sun) into flaky crystals which are then packaged, etc. Some of the flavors have other herbs added such as cumin, lemon zest, etc. My products are herbs/spices. They are not cooked. Do I even need a license?! Or just a class A license (no aspect of the process requires a kitchen) and move ahead? Any problems that you can foresee?

    Yes, you will need a license of some sort. I don’t think your health dept will let you do this under the cottage food law (all prep is supposed to take place in the home kitchen). You should call them to see what they’ll require.

Hello. I’m applying for a Class A permit in Yolo county for Woodland, California. I submitted my paperwork and one food sample label like I was told when I went in to inquire about it to the health department but was told when I went back in to submit the paperwork for review so I could get my Class A permit that I needed a sample label of all the baked goods I will be making, by the health inspector. My question is do I need to submit a sample food label of all the baked good flavors I will be baking? Or just a sample label of the basic ingredients, that I will be using? My second question is since my baked goods will be vegan and my buttercreme frosting is vegan, will I be allowed to fill in some of my cupcakes with my vegan buttercreme or no? My last question is eventhough my permit is only a Class A would you say that it still would be a good idea for me to get insurance? Thank you for this very helpful information. I await your reply.

    How sample labels are submitted completely varies from dept to dept. In the end, it is whatever they require. Some depts require a label for every variation of every product possible, resulting in hundreds of submitted labels.

    Buttercream frosting is now an allowed food item in CA, as of last month. It should be allowed, vegan or non-vegan.

    I can’t say whether or not it’s right for you to get insurance, but I will say that I don’t think it makes much difference whether you are class A or B. The concerns, considerations, and risks would be applicable regardless. Here’s some more info:

Hi, I am applying for a CFO -class A in San Ramon,CA and I have to file a business license first. There is a space asking for a classification code and to enter in this website ( But the problem is I can’t figure out which is my classification code, because I want to sell cookies, cakes, cupcakes and cake pops. Does any one file an application before and know which is the classification code? I found 2, can I have 2 classification codes? Thank you.

This page is so helpful, even though I’ve already done all the startup steps. I would like to know if you could offer a link to tax information that may be necessary for baked goods. When I opened a storefront on 2008 (in LA County), there was no sales tax on baked goods. I would like to know if this is still the case.

Thanks in advance!

    You shouldn’t have to collect state sales tax. But you still need to check with your local authority and see if city or county sales taxes are required. I don’t know of an online resource that has all of that information.

I am making herb/spice blend products which have been approved. My question is about the ingredients list – I see on many products at the grocery store that in the ingredients list it simply says “herbs”, “spices”, but I am being told by my county health department that I must list every individual spice and herb used. Do you know if this is really correct? In the interest of protecting my recipes, I’d prefer to be non-specific if I can!

    Yes, that’s correct. I’m not an expert on it, but I know that in order for those products to have generic ingredients like “natural flavors”, they must send them into (I believe) the federal health dept, which keeps a complete ingredient list in their records. So there’s a process there, and I’m not sure if a CFO can utilize it.

Hello! I am wondering if dehydrated vegan crackers (made from kale, nuts and seeds) fall under cottage food? And what about other dehydrated snacks made from fruits and vegetables? I live in San Diego County Thank you!

David –

Do I need a CFO, A Permit, to re-package spices purchased in bulk and packaged in smaller containers? There is no cooking being done. The approved food list does not mention spices.

    I assume you’re creating your own mixture? In which case the answer is yes, you need a CFO permit if your health dept allows this product under the law.
    If your health dept says no, then I think you’d need to do this in a commercial kitchen with a commercial license, even though no cooking is being done.
    If you’re repackaging someone else’s mixture you’re buying in bulk:

I am starting a class B CFO with my sister, and we have approval from the Planning department to do so. Just want to make sure – is this the ‘zoning requirement’?

We have to get a business license and register our ‘doing business as’ name, so after we get these we will apply for the class B permit and (fingers crossed) be registered. Is this legally all we have to do to set up our home little cake bakery business and sell through local cafes and events?

Thanks in advance-

Hi ,
I live in San Francisco and I make my own salad dressing and sauces. Does that apply to the cottage food law. Some of my sauces do use dairy. Can I package this product at home?


We are setting up a home food business in Monterey County and have obtained most of what is required to do so. We are working to set up our kitchen to code and wanted to know if when applying for a Class B Permit and looking forward to our inspection, could you please tell us if we would be allowed to set up our “home kitchen” outside of our daily use kitchen in another room that would have a stove, refrigeration, prep tables, mixers, storage, etc. We have a converted studio in a garage that could accommodate everything and then it would be completely separate from our home kitchen. We were concerned that the Cottage Food Law requires the business to actually use the primary home kitchen and not use another allocated space within the home to do so…Please let us know your thoughts. Thank you-

    I forgot to mention, we would also have a dual basin stainless steel sink for washing baking utensils and would also have a separate hand washing sink. Thank you for your amazing, informative, and helpful forum!

    I believe that you may only use your home kitchen intended for residential use (not a separate one), but you’ll want to call the environmental health dept to make sure. As far as I know, there is no “code” to really adhere to for the cottage food law, other than some basics (hot water, no bugs, etc.). If you’re going to all of this trouble to build a separate kitchen, you might as well bring it up to code for a commercial kitchen, though you really should talk to the health dept about your options before you proceed further.

I will be selling herbed sea salt blends. My question is three-fold.
Is ServSafe the same as Food Handlers cert. I took the servsafe already seems like the same thing?
Also, I think I would qualify for Cottage Kitch but as to which one I am not sure. As much as I would hope to , I can’t imagine I will go over $45.000 in a year.
Last question-Did I read correctly that I will likely have to pay $800.00 for selling my salts if I am in LA county? thanks in advance, Appreciate your blog!! Carol

    Yes, ServSafe offers a basic course that fulfills the requirement.
    Not sure of the second question, but I will say that it’s uncertain whether items that are not intended for human consumption would fall under this law. If you’re item is not (if it were for a bath, for instance), you need to contact the environmental health dept to see if they would allow your sea salt blends.
    You only have to pay an $800 yearly tax to the state if you incorporate as an LLC or some other corporation, which I wouldn’t recommend under most circumstances.

Hi David,

I am interested in selling infused syrups, where the primary ingredient is sugar. Could this be considered “candy” under the list of approved CFO foods? Or “sweet sorghum syrup” if it contained sorghum?

Thank you.

    It would not be considered a candy, and it also probably wouldn’t be allowed as a syrup because “sweet sorghum syrup” on the list is so specific. I don’t think adding sorghum would make any difference. Ultimately it’s up to your environmental health dept to decide whether or not to allow your product.

david, im starting a class a cottage business , i was wondering how the taxes work for this. what all do i need to do besides food handlers card. i live in petaluma , sonoma county. i will be makeing cakes and pastrys for purchase . also if i want to include fruit, or curd on my products do i need a commercial licence?

David, I am thinking of starting my own business making beverages (non alcohol) at events. All my ingredients are pre packaged, meaning i am buying them and just creating the beverages myself and charging. none of the ingredients are home make, they are all national brands. do i need a permit or license to do this?

Hi David, Do you know when the state will say whether or not the list of proposed additions to the safe foods list was approved? I know it was released on April 7 and it’s been about 30 days so I’m just hoping to see something one way or the other to see if buttercreams can be added back to my products.


    The notice does say the proposed changes will be effective 30 days from the date of posting which was April 7th. And, yes, if you download the approved list from the official website it is dated May 7, 2014.

Hi Daivid,
If I am using cooked and deep fried rice and mixing them with nuts, will this be ok? I am not baking them in the oven.
thank-you in advance for all the informative answers.

David, I have a question about packaging and labeling. If I sell my brownies without packaging, am I required to label each item? I tried to package my brownies but found it much easier to sell them unpackaged. Obviously, this poses a problem as I can’t attach my labels to the food item. Am I required to package? Any advise is much appreciated

    Technically, you’re not supposed to be selling any item unpackaged or unlabeled (or generally handled outside your home kitchen), though I seen it commonly done. You could ask your health dept if it would be okay to sell them unpackaged, and if they say yes, then go ahead. Even if you sold them unpackaged, you could provide a label in a number of ways. You could have the label prominently displayed, or hand them a card with the product info on it when they buy it, or put sticker labels on waxed paper pouches and slip the brownie into a pouch when you make a sale.

Hello, what level of food handler card do I need for the cottage food? Manager food handler’s card or non-manager food handler’s card? Thanks

Hi David,
Since you are from Placer Co. you may already know that the UC Cooperative Extensions in several California counties are presenting workshops this year on California’s Cottage Food Law. I believe El Dorado is and Shasta county has scheduled theirs for May and June. Interested persons should check with their local UC Cooperative Extension office. Below is the link for Shasta county.

Hi David,
Do you know where I can find a list of counties that allow indirect sales from other counties? I live in Ventura County and would like to do indirect sales in Los Angeles and Santa Barbara Counties.
Thanks for your help!

    I don’t believe such a list exists, but I know that the county-to-county relationships are minimal. You will need to call Ventura’s environmental health dept and see if they have formed any such agreements with other counties… and if they haven’t, ask them if they could.

    Hello david I have a question for the class A they come over my place and check the kitchen? And do I have to pay first what If I don’t qualified do I get my money back?

    You will not get a kitchen inspection if you go with class A. There’s really no risk of losing your money by applying.

Hello, I am selling baked good occasionally at local gyms and currently operating as a sole propriety. I was thinking of converting into an LLC since I’m selling food products. However, I read that an $800 fee is due to the state annually (FTB 3522). I have made 0 profits since I’ve launched. I probably sell $20-30 worth of products a time. I don’t want to pay the $800 a month but I also would like to play it safe and have my assets protected by becoming an LLC. Is the $800 applicable to cottage food operators?
Thanks for your help.

    I too was wondering the same thing and found the following at

    Do I have to set up an LLC or a corporation to run my cottage food business?

    You are not required to set up an LLC or Corporation for you business, and in fact, the wording of the law suggests that only an individual person (not a business entity) can get a cottage food permit. Some departments of environmental health are allowing LLCs and corporations to get cottage food permits and some are not. If your local department of environmental health is permitting business entities, you may want to do some research and/or speak to an attorney or an accountant about which entity is best for your business. SELC’s Legal Eats Guide has some information about this.

    The $800 franchise tax is a real wake-up call to a lot of small businesses, but the state does give you a free pass for the first year. So, if you weren’t making much profit, the earliest you would be hit up with the minimum $800 tax would be April 2016.

    You can get an LLC if you want to, but know that an LLC — while it does provide more protection of personal assets — will not completely secure them. I would suggest you look into liability insurance instead:

Hi David,

I read below that you think Orange County is allowing mail orders, can you elaborate? Does that mean i can sell on a website and ship the goods around? I’m confused on that part. Additionally, can you tell me or redirect me to where i can take these classes that are required? I graduated in the culinary industry back in 2003. I used to be food and safety certified, but that has since expired. can i renew that somehow?

David, I am tring to figure out how to set up my label. I am planning on selling brownies that are individually packaged and also packaged in boxes of many. Do I have to weigh each of these and print the weight on the label? I was planning on printing hundreds of labels at once. I guess this can’t be done. Please advise. Thanks much!

    You do need the weight of each one on the individual labels. For the label on a box, you can just weigh the whole box. What I would recommend is that you print your labels with an empty area for the weight, and then just write it in by hand.

Hi David,
Thank you for your efforts and comments.

I have some questions need to be answered!

1- If I want to establish my food business from the home but without limitation (i.e. more than 45,000 USD) what is the suitable choice for this direction ?
2- Reference to the answer in point#1, Can I sell chicken and/or meal sandwiches ?


I’m registered as a CFO within Los Angeles County but are CFO’s still subject to city business tax? It seems silly that as a rule under CFO you can’t gross more than $45,000/year but are still subject to city tax – can someone confirm for me?

Thanks! Great Article!

    I assume that as long as you have a business license, you would be subject to the same business tax every other business is. The sales limit is part of state law and shouldn’t be a factor in city ordinances. However, the city could create a special exemption for CFOs if they wanted to, but they haven’t done that yet and I highly doubt it would ever happen.

Hi David. Thank you for all the info! I want to sell Baklava at a local farmers market. The person who runs the farmers market (it’s in the west san fernando valley) told me I needed to make the baklava in a commercial kitchen. Do you know if that is the case? Or does that fall under this new Cottage Foods law? So do I only need to get a health certificate and a food handlers card? Do you know specifically what is required for a Farmers Market? Thank you!!

    Your health dept may allow baklava under the cottage food law, in which case the farmers market could allow it if they wanted to, but the farmers market has the right to disallow homemade baklava, regardless.

I’d like to start producing British style chutneys. I can only see fruit based jams as being allowed, can I not make vegetable based (like a tomato, eggplant or a carrot chutney for example). The whole botulism thing seems crazy, as in order to make these chutneys the process involved boiling all the ingredients(with vinegar which also kills bacteria by itself) at incredibly high temperatures for a very long time, and sterilizing all jars etc. I can’t imagine any bacteria surviving that!

    You cannot make chutneys. As far as I know, the botulism concern doesn’t have to do with the mixture itself… it has to do with improper canning methods. If a proper seal is not made then botulism can develop over time. Because specialized training for canning is not required for CFOs, they’ve decided to disallow low-sugar, low-acid canned items entirely.

Hi there, I have an A license and I have seen in an earlier post something about strawberries. can I sell chocolate strawberries at my stand?

Hi im applying for a CFO permit for riverside county but i dont live in riverside i live in la should i be applying for one in la? How long does it take do you know? Any help would be appreciated! Thank u!

Hi David, is Mochi cottage food? It is made with a cooked sweet rice and filled with cooked red bean paste. If so, I would like to know if I can put a whole strawberry, so basically a strawberry is wrapped with a cooked red bean paste and the it is wrapped again with cooked sweet rice. Thank you in advance.

    The rice should be fine — the red bean paste probably wouldn’t (not sure though). The strawberry should be okay as long as you’re not cutting it in any way. But ultimately it is up to your health dept to decide whether or not to allow it. Some depts are more strict than others… which county are you in?

It states that the Sales Limit is $45,000.00. It doesn’t specify whether it’s person to person or indirect sales. or both combined? If I have a class B I can sell direct and indirectly. If a sell $45K of my goods personally, then I get for example 30% from my indirect sales which made and extra $50K. Technically the 30% that I get should be ok since I wasn’t involved in selling my goods, the 3rd party was. I put my goods on their shelves, THEY sell the goods, then we get our agreed percentages. Please clarify. Thanks

    It is a total gross sales amount for the CFO. They may be selling it, but it is still your business. If a grocery store sells an item for $10 and keeps $2.50 from the sale for themselves, you still have to attribute $10 to that $45K limit. Basically, the intent of the law is that at the point in which you are making more than a certain amount in gross sales, it’s time for you to become a regular food business. Consumers should not be spending more than $45,000 on your products in 2014.

In regards to not being able to sell hot sauce, would chili or garlic oil be ok to sell? How about sauces such as selling teriyaki sauce or sauces/pastes to cook with?

I thought eggs from one’s own chickens was allowed under the cottage law. And what about vegetables from the garden? No?

    Eggs are not in the cottage food law, but there may be a rule from the ag dept about those. Uncut fruits and vegetables can be sold without a license from the health or ag depts.

Are there requirements for the dimensions of the labels (i.e., 2 in. x 4 in.)? I know there are font size and descriptive content requirements, but for the size of the label I am wondering.

Hello! Do I need a fictitious business name or file a DBA in addition to getting the Cottage Food license?

If I individually package each baked good item and place them in a bakery box, can I just put the food label on the bakery box and not the individually wrapped items? Or, do I need to do the labeling for both?

Can I have two different types of cottage food businesses in my home?

Thank you!

    It depends on the county, but you most likely will need to get a business license, and if your personal name is not in your business name, then you’ll need a DBA.

    Anything you sell needs a label. You can put only one label on the bakery box if you’re selling the entire box.

    No you cannot… every kitchen may only have one CFO. You just need to merge both businesses into one.

    With regards to the business name. My partner and I have an LLC and we registered our business name without using our personal names in our company name. Do we still need a DBA? Can the DBA be the same as our company name? For example our business name is Cookies R Us, LLC and we have been using this name on our product labels. Now do we need a DBA and would the DBA be used on our labels? Is is a must that the DBA be used on labels? Confused.

My wife and I live in San Diego and we are getting ready to start our own CFO. We are going to be baking cake pops, specialty cakes and small pies. When we make our cakes and cake pops, we use milk to bake our cakes. Will that be acceptable? With our fruit tarts, can we sell them with fruit on top? Lastly, can we sell baked apple/cherry/pumpkin pies? THank you

    Using milk in a baked cake is fine. You can only top your fruit tarts with uncut fruit (like a whole strawberry). You can sell fruit pies, but not pumpkin pies.

    Thanks David for the info. Do you know why pumpkin pie is a no-go? We use our from a can just like our apple and cherry pies.

    Unlike the other fruit pies, pumpkin pie needs to be refrigerated after it’s baked. I don’t know why… it probably has to do with it’s final moisture content and sugar level. The reason you see unrefrigerated pumpkin pies in stores at Thanksgiving time is because they mix chemicals into them to stabilize them (which is a little disconcerting).

Hi David. I am interested in becoming a CFO (Class A) to sell my baked bread. I have a shed outside that I want to convert into a small bakery, with a traditional wood fired oven, shaping table, sink and perhaps a single gas burner. The shed is quite stable. Is this allowed? Or must it be from my actual household kitchen? I can’t bake my bread in a typical oven, so I would need to bake in a separate building. I would never be using the baking shed for household cooking. I know Class A’s do not get inspected, but I still want everything in proper working order. What is their definition of a household kitchen? Any help would be appreciated.

    This is technically not allowed, even though the law was started by someone who does the exact same thing as you. I’d suggest you talk to your county’s health dept and see if they will look past it.

Hi David,

I currently live in San Francisco but would like to sell in other counties such as Santa Clara county where I am originally from. Do I need to apply for a CFO permit for both counties even though I’m baking out of San Francisco? Thanks.

    You can only apply for a CFO permit in San Francisco county if that’s where you live. You can do direct, face-to-face sales anywhere in the state. Other counties can agree to allow indirect sales, but in the case of Santa Clara, they’ve already stated that they won’t allow any indirect sales from CFOs in other counties.

do you know how long it takes to get a cottage b license? if i get one for operation in Orange County, and move to LA County within a few months do I have to apply again?

    Yes, you will need to reapply again and I’d recommend waiting until you move to LA. I’ve heard Orange County is pretty friendly towards CFOs, and LA’s a bit more strict. I’ve also heard that it takes awhile (over a month) in LA to register. It might happen within a week in OC, but I don’t know. Class B costs $254 in LA, and probably a little less than that in OC.


I make vanilla extract and was wondering about selling it on Etsy. It doesn’t seem to be listed in the foods above. Also, do I need a permit if it is more of a hobby?

Hi David. Lots of great answeres on here. I wonder why items cannot be shipped? What happens if I ship my homemade goods? I know – bad question. Thank for your feedback.

    I assume you’re asking: “What if I know it’s illegal and do it anyway? Will anything bad happen to me?” Probably not. But, when you are operating under the cottage food law and abiding by the rules, you are standing on legal ground if a consumer complains. If you shipped an item and a consumer complained, the health dept would trace it back to you and would probably fine you. If the consumer sued you, you wouldn’t have much legal ground to stand on.

    I have to admit, there’s no good reason why they disallowed shipping. Part of the reason they disallowed it is because they want the face-to-face nature of direct sales to provide a lot of the accountability that most CFOs are missing (without health dept inspections). Therefore, you’d expect that Class B CFOs can ship, but they can’t (probably due to the intercounty rule). I can’t remember if they cited potentially-long handling times as being hazardous… but that wouldn’t make any sense because the non-perishable nature of cottage food products makes them some of the most shipping-friendly foods!

I am currently living in Tulare county and can’t find anything online stating whether shipping of baked goods from here is allowed. If I ever were interested in a food truck (selling cookies), would I need a business license?

    You probably need to call Tulare’s health dept to find out. A shipping prohibition may be in their CFO application or self-check list, if they put it online.

    I think a food truck falls under different rules, but I’m not sure. That’s another question for your health dept.

    Yes — in fact, as a CFO you can ONLY bake the cookies in your home kitchen. When you’re preparing your cookies, you can’t be doing anything else non-business in the kitchen (like preparing family meals).

I have a 501c3 and I’d like to do cfo as the church DNA the cfo in order to finan e the 501c3. Can I do that? And, I want to purchase a vintage trailer that will be used for sale and delivery ofthese baked goods. Is that okay?

    The cottage food law is only for individuals cooking in their home kitchen and selling for personal profit. There are already exemptions in place for churches to hold bake sales or fundraisers… I’d recommend you try to use that and avoid the licensing altogether.

    I’m not sure about your second question, but I believe that you can’t do sales out of a mobile food unit, as there are special rules for those. You should contact your health dept with these questions — they should know more.

Hi David –

I want to buy a bulk spice seasoning mix and re-package it with my own private label to re-sell. The label that will show the list of all ingredients from the manufacturer’s label with all of the other FDA required info. Is this type of product approved to sell as a homemade cottage food?

Thanks in advance.

We own an Asian food restaurant and have lost our lease but our customers, most of whom live in the neighborhood, are asking us to start cooking and selling out of the house. Any restrictions on this?

    This is not allowed. You do need a commercial kitchen to run your business. Technically you could build a commercial kitchen near (but separate from) your house, but that’s pretty expensive. Even with that, you would not be able to use your home as a venue for customers to come eat at.

Some of my breads are baked with cheese (not as a “filling,” but as an ingredient, such as grated parmesan) – is this allowed or does it require a commercial license?

Hi David,

I am in the process of developing a healthy food snack bar business. The ingredients are mostly nuts, coconut, dates, and spices. Does this apply as a cottage home business or do i need to go commercial?

Hi David. I’m just getting started and need some help. I registered my CFO with my health department and they sent me to the city planning dept. I’m in Oroville. Oroville told me that I would have to get a business license with the state to be able to sell my product. I can’t figure out how to go about this. When I go on the state page I get lost. Your assistance is greatly appreciated!

    Are you sure they didn’t say you need to get a business license with the city (or county)? Usually they guide you to where you can get the license they are looking for. I don’t really know what they want… usually a city or county license is all that’s needed. I’d recommend going back to them and making sure they want a state license, and having them walk you through acquiring it.

Hi David,
You have so much great info here! My daughter and I are in the very early stages of kombucha brewing, with the hopes of expanding to a small business. Would you have any idea of the regulations on that? I saw nothing about brewed/fermented beverages. We are in Contra Costa County. Thanks! Lori

Is there anything in between being a CFO and a caterer? I’d like to sell cookies (class A CFO license) but I’m also thinking about selling larger quantities for private events. Most likely I’d need to cook in a 3rd party larger kitchen – does selling baked goods require a commercial kitchen or can I use any 3rd party kitchen? I understand this would no longer be a CFO, so what would it be – catering? Or something else?

    You can only use your home kitchen for a CFO, as you know. All other sold food must be produced in a commercial kitchen… even if you’re catering.

This site is so very helpful! What kind of licensing do I need if I am repackaging teas (buying bulk wholesale and repacking) at my friend’s commercial kitchen? Would that be a CFO license?
Eventually, I would like to sell teas online. Can I do this under a commercial license using my friend’s kitchen? I live in Kern County. Thank you for your time!

    That’s definitely not a CFO license, and I’m not sure if you could do this with a simpler license than a standard commercial license. You should check with your county’s health dept and see what kinds of permits they offer for repackaged items.

    Thanks! One more question David. We use community wells in my area. They test the water regularly. Do you think getting a copy of that report from the community well test would be sufficient? Or do I have to go through a different water analysis company?

    I think the health dept only needs proof that the water is safe. If the water has been tested recently, then that report should be fine. If it were me, I wouldn’t even ask about it. I’d just grab a copy and send it in with your application, and see if the health dept complains. Could save you some money.

I’m starting up a pie business in Ventura County & thinking about selling in farmer’s markets/from home but may want to sell to restaurants/stores as well. I live very close to LA County but my home in in Ventura County – I’m assuming I only need to obtain a license From Ventura even if I sell in LA? Also, where can I find a checklist that the inspector will use when inspecting my kitchen for Class B? Just want to make sure I have everything covered!

    If you get a class A license today and switch to a class B license tomorrow, you will be charged for both licenses. Licenses should last a year, so you should carefully consider whether or not you will be selling to retail stores in the next year before signing up. If so, you should probably start with the class B license, even if you don’t initially use it.

    With either license, you can do direct sales outside your county, but you can only do indirect sales at stores and restaurants in your county, unless your county has an agreement with another. I’m not sure if LA and Ventura are working together.

    Every county is a bit different, so there isn’t a universal checklist for inspections. If you want to know, you should ask your health dept what they will be looking for.

    Don’t get your hopes up. They were supposed to release a proposed list a month ago, and the amended list was supposed to go into effect today. We still haven’t seen or heard anything about that. They have said that the list will be updated biannually, but it’s been over a year and the list has never been updated. I’d hope that they can do something by July 1st, but only time will tell.

Hi David, can a nonprofit organization set up a cfo in a members house. Then can the organization sell ar the fundraiser they are having. They will have health permits for the event.

I’m in LA County and would like to obtain a Class B permit to sell to a restaurant. Is that a possible and how long does it generally take to obtain the permit?

    Yes, it is possible and processing times for CFO permits are highly variable. I’ve heard that LA County takes a bit longer than most… probably at least a month.

Hi David,
Thanks so much for all the info. It says in the article that you only need to submit one label but the rep at the health dept. for Placer County told me I would have to submit a sample label for every item I sell. I was considering selling baked goods and trying different products as I go to see what sells best, but that means I’d need to submit all those labels now or be resubmitting labels along the way. Is it up to the county or is she mistaken? Thanks again.

    Where does it say that? I am from Placer County and have spoken to her as well… it has drastically slowed down the time it’s taking for me to submit my application. She is not mistaken — many counties require a label per product. However, Placer is a little bit lenient in that they will accept very similar products with only one label. For instance, you shouldn’t need to submit a label for every single combo of cake and frosting. Whereas in LA, they require a label for absolutely everything.

    Under the business section it says: If the application asks for a “sample label”, only one label is needed (not one for every product the operation produces). But according to her if I want to sell cookies I have to submit a different sample label for each type of cookie.

    Ah, I see how that could be confusing. I’ll change the wording on that. But I see that the application for Placer County asks for “sample label(s)”, indicating that you will need to submit more than one if you have more than one product. From what I understood from her, chocolate chip cookies and white chocolate chip cookies would each require a label, but at one point she told me that I didn’t need a label for every single combination. I don’t think she wants to be inundated with hundreds of labels for minor variations, which is particularly the case with cake makers. I could be mistaken, but that’s the sense that I got.

Hello, David. Thank you so much for very useful informations!!
Can we apply for Cottage Foods Operations as a legal entity such as C corporation, LLC, instead of individual (or/and family) ? We have product in our mind for sale, but we don’t want to obtain commercial license at this early stage. We’d like to invest small and want to see first if it works…

    You can incorporate if you want, but keep in mind that there’s a minimum yearly franchise tax of $800 if you do. The only CFO I’ve met who incorporated later regretted it. I usually recommend starting with a sole proprietorship with some liability insurance.

    Thank you for your reply! Actually we already have C-corp and are currently doing other type of business. We’d like to add CFO as part of our business if possible. I believe $45,000 sales per year is only the limitation for CFO. (Means we are still able to receive revenue from our current business even if it exceeds $45,000. Am I right? )

    Wow, I really don’t know. The law states that the “enterprise” may only do $45,000 of sales in 2014. It doesn’t say that’s only for food sales. However, who knows what “enterprise” means. It may be that if you get a DBA for your business under your c-corp, then the DBA would be considered the enterprise. If it were me, I’d just go ahead and try it and see if the health dept stopped me. Honestly, if you asked the health dept they probably wouldn’t know either.

Hi, I was wondering if I were to start with a class A license an a few months later wanted to sell to cafes – how long would it take for me to change to class B?


    It would probably take only slightly longer than class A, and that’s because of the inspection. It should take basically the same amount of time, and the amount of time varies widely by county.

    However, you should know that if you switch to class B, you will have to pay the full price for the permit — even if it’s only one day after you register for class A. If you think you’ll switch in a few months, then you should probably just start with class B.

I saw from a previous question that ice pops are not covered in the cottage law. How can I found out about what regulations there are in getting a commercial license. Some ice pops have dairy but do not require any cooking. Having a commercial kitchen that is set up for ALL cooking needs seems like overkill. Is it possible to get required permits from using a rental kitchen. BTW these would be for catered events and for sale at public events. Thank you, this site has been the most helpful I have found.

    There is not really any middle ground — you must make these in a commercial kitchen, which you can rent if necessary. The only other way to do the business would be to buy commercially-made ice pops and sell those, which would possibly only require a seller’s permit.

I was wanting more information about the no pet rule. “No infants, small children, or pets in kitchen during cottage food preparation”…It says during preparation but does not specify a closed door/area like I’ve read elsewhere. Is that accurate? Basically I have a living room connected to a long kitchen with an area past that with a litter box for the 2 cats in the house. If I prevent access to kitchen during cottage food preparation is that enough or is it still deemed unfit for use in a food cottage? Thanks, and your page/response to comments have been helpful.

    Yes, it’s correct that the law does not specify that the kitchen needs to be physically closed off, as long as you can keep your pets out of the kitchen during food prep. However, remember that the reason for the pet rule is because some people have allergies, so you’ll want to make sure you sanitize all of the surfaces you’ll be working on before starting your prep.

Hi David,

If I wanted to sell cupcakes and/or cakes that have alcohol mixed in the cake batter prior to baking is that allowed under this law? Or would this require a liquor license or other regulations? For example: a rum cake.

Thank you!

    The state law neither allows or disallows it. You need to ask your county if they will allow it, and if they do (they probably won’t), then you may need to get a special alcohol permit, depending on what county you’re in. You can get all this info from your health dept.

Hi David, great info. I make home-made salads and salad dressing and I have been asked about starting a delivery service. I was thinking of offering salads and sandwiches. The salads include cheese, perhaps grilled chicken, etc. I am guessing that isn’t allowed?

Hi David,

Congratulations! The website is most helpfull!

Now, I do have a CFO class A – Santa Clara County and I thought I could not ship, did they change that? Sorry I cannot find the answer anywhere.


Hi David, Thanks for all the information & answering all the questions. The person I spoke with today from CDPH was not half so helpful!
I’m starting a candy retail business (no store front). The way its packaged together is unique. Most of the candies are packaged from the manufacturer. I’ve got two candies that will be purchased in bulk that I plan on re-packaging (preferably at home). I have the business license, retail permit, and am trying to figure out the food permit needed. I understand I can repackage the bulk candy under the Cottage Act. Can I store the rest of the candies (selling them unaltered) under the Cottage Act? It seems a little crazy to rent CPHD-approved warehouse facility just to warehouse candy until its sold. I’m fine with just selling to local delivery-only customers for the time being. If this business trial is successful, I will want to grow it into a larger, approved facility.

    I think if anyone would disapprove of this, it would be the candy manufacturer. Some items specifically say that they cannot be individually resold. But if it was really an issue, you could just taken them out of their package and put them in your own package and that would be fine. So I don’t see why the CDPH would have any problem with reselling them in their original package. But I’m not a spokesperson for them so I can’t say for sure.

    Thanks David. The candy manufacturers are on-board. One of the larger ones even tweeted about me because they want to support! I’ll keep poking around and get up the gumption to call CDHP again.

How do I obtain a license for working in a commercial kitchen? I want to sell perishable food that have meat and cream in them. I already have my food handler certificate. Thank you.

Just wanted to say this is a really great resource. I’ve talked to several people wanting to start some sort of a food delivery service in LA & it can be hard to explain everything to them. I’m definitely going to pass this on to them so they can have all this info in one place.

David, good on you for being so responsive in the comments too. I see a ton of help being given.

Hi David ! I would like to prepare raw desserts, like candies (nuts, dates, vanila extract, coconut flakes), Raw cheesecakes at my home kitchen and deliver to baby birthdays and weddings. Should I apply for commercial licence as my produce definitly needs freezing? Please give me advise.

    Hi David,

    Can I get a Class A/B license if the raw desserts are not baked (basically nuts, dates and coconut oil blended in a food processor)? No temperature control is required. Thank you!

    Jen, it depends on the recipe. Items that are baked are more likely to be approved, but certain types of raw desserts should be approved too. You’ll need to speak directly with the environmental health dept to learn if your products will be approved.

    Thanks David! I’ll contact the environmental health dept in San Mateo and follow up here on what was approved.

I want to start a small cheesecake business and have had a number of conflicting things told to me. Do I need to go totally with a commercial license direction or a different direction? what special permits/licenses do I need before I can legitimately start selling and making some extra cash.

I am considering getting a Class A cottage food license. I was bummed to find out I can’t sell homemade vanilla extract. Sounds like an uphill battle. I was told the reason was because they can’t guarantee the vanilla beans coming from other countries are safe for our consumption.

A few questions…
I have a couple jam recipes that I wanted to make and sell. I’ve always gone off Certo pectins recipes, or online ones I found. Do I have to tweak the recipe to make it “my own”, making it illegal to sell Certo’s or ANY found online on people’s personal sites (shared recipe)?
Regarding baked goods like cupcakes and cake, is it within the cottage food rules to frost them? Seems like you’d be breaking the rules with cream or needing refrigeration with those. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe a chocolate frosting or white chocolate frosting would be the better route to take?

Would there be any concerns with making dry mixes for cakes, breads, etc, and selling those in a sealed package or containers? They would just need the dairy to prepare them in their own home.

    You don’t have to tweak any standard recipe. You can even make a cake from a box and sell that.

    You can use certain kinds of frosting for your cakes. A standard powder sugar and milk frosting is fine, and most counties also allow buttercream frosting. Frostings that require refrigeration, like a cream cheese frosting, are not allowed (though it is possible to make a cream cheese frosting that doesn’t need refrigeration).

    Finally, dry baking mixes are allowed.

I wish to start a home based cake business in Riverside County. I was looking through my city ordinances (lake Elsinore) and they say you cannot sell anything directly to the consumer out of your home. How is this going to work with the law if I want to try for a Class A?

Additionally, I use frosting recipes already approved through Texas that were tested for PH and AW, and should be fine as they fall under our laws guidelines. When I submit the recipes, can I include the results of the testing they have? And one last thing, I intend to sell an old family recipe fruit cake that had walnuts and white raisins. It has no frosting and is aged several months as it is brushed with brandy. Would this be a problem?

    If your city does not allow you to sell at home, then you need to take your direct sales elsewhere — either at events, road stands, or by delivering the product to the customer.

    It won’t hurt to submit the test results for your frostings, but they still might reject them.

    I really have no idea about the fruit cake. You can submit the label and see what they say. The alcohol might be the biggest problem.

Which counties are allowing mail orders? Do you know if they are allowing these mail orders only within the county or allowing things to be shipped into the county from others?

    I’d like that list too! I haven’t actually confirmed that any are allowing them, but I’ve heard that Orange County may be. The CDPH has recommended that health depts not allow shipping, and therefore a county would have to go against that recommendation to allow them, so the list of counties is very small (possibly nonexistent). Even though I haven’t confirmed that a county is allowing them, I do know that it would be possible for a county to allow them. I do not know if other counties would have restrictions accepting these sales, but since they are direct, they should be allowed statewide.

What about selling Artisan Popsicles for Farmers Markets/Fundraisers David? Would I need to find a Commercial Kitchen for that?

    Anything that requires freezing or refrigeration is not allowed. Refrigerating your items are okay as long as it’s not required to keep them safe.

We make jams and jellys and dip mixes for friends and family. We have been invited to bring and sell them at a craft fair someone is hosting at their home. Do I need all these permits if this is going to be the only time we sell? Thanks.

    Ask your health dept if they offer a temporary event permit. Otherwise, I believe you would need to go through this whole process to do only one event, which is a bit ridiculous, I know.

Hi! I live in Ventura County and would like to sell chocolate covered strawberries! I know fresh fruit are not allowed with a “class A” but what about “class B”?

I am looking into selling roasted coffee beans at my local market in Riverside County. My question is about sampling. I understand that I will be able to give away small bags that are ore packaged as samples but what about brewed coffee? Can I brew coffee at the market and give away samples?

    No — the item must only be sampled as you are selling it (which in your case is impossible). You could still call the health dept and see what kind of permit you need to get to make and serve coffee, since it may be simpler than getting a commercial food license.

Hello, I am currently in the process of obtaining my CFO permit. All my results for my water testing have come back all clear. I am scheduled to have my kitchen inspection on Thursday 2/27 @ 2pm. Any advise… I am so nervous about what would cause my kitchen not to pass!!!! PLEASE HELP WITH A LITTLE ADVISE!!!!

    Most of the time the inspection isn’t a big issue. They just want to make sure that your kitchen is clean… no insects in the cupboards, no grime in the crevices of your stand mixer or oven, etc. They should check to see that you have both hot and cold water available in the kitchen and nearest bathroom. They may require you to use only paper towels for drying things and want to be sure you have those on-hand. They’ll want to make sure you know how to clean your surfaces with a bleach solution or something similar. If you’re familiar with this document you should be fine:

    If the inspection deviates from anything above, or if something in it takes you by surprise, please let us know! Even county is slightly different.

    Hi! Did you apply for class A or B? This site says that there is no kitchen inspection for class A, but I’ve heard otherwise. Thanks?

    You should not be hearing otherwise. I have heard that health depts have tried to inspect class A operations, but if they do so then they are breaking the law. The only time a class A CFO can get inspected is in response to a customer complaint.

Hello! I’m a little confused. So we are allowed to sell on the internet but not mail order? Once we get orders over the internet, we would have to send it out. Or it is that we can sell online an mail it within the state? Also, what do you mean getting water from a private well? I use the same water that we use at home. What will that be considered as? Thanks!

    You can take orders over the internet, but you must deliver them in-person. Shipping items is not allowed in almost all counties. You probably use public water… some people in more remote areas must pump their water up from a private well.

I am planning on starting small and just selling walnut chocolate chip cookies that are made at home. I have read the entire article and I feel slightly overwhelmed. Can you please break down the processes/steps I have to complete before I can start selling my products? I live in the Sacramento County.

For the cookies, I can basically obtain all the ingredients from one grocery store. I CAN purchase previously shelled walnuts from the same grocery store to add to the cookies, but I prefer fresh walnuts that I shell at home. These fresh walnuts are purchased from a family friend who purchases them from another friend who grows them on their farm, I believe. (I can get more information about the source of the walnuts). My question is, do I have to complete another procedure to use the fresh walnuts, or would I be better off using store bought walnuts (either open in bulk, or pre-packaged)?

What are the fees associated with zoning in Los Angeles County? What type of permit would one need to get? I looked at the County of LA’s Planning Department Fee Schedule and all the conditional use permit types are expensive.

    The zoning laws for the neighborhood next to you might be different from yours. You’ll only be able to get accurate info by calling the planning dept.

Ok, so you definitely know what your talking about but I am so lost, can you please tell me what I need to do after I fill out the cottage food law application besides turn it in lol, so many steps but I’m not sure where to start, please help!

    Yeah it’s not simple… just try reading the bill! Depending on what your county requires, there are a number of things you might need to do. Have you called your health dept and planning division yet? Both of those departments should be able to tell you what you need to do. In addition to the application, you’ll likely need to get zoning approval, a business license, possibly a home occupation permit, and you’ll need to take an online training course, submit your product labels, and (if you’re applying for class B) get your kitchen inspected. And if you don’t own your home, make sure you get approval from your landlord first.

    No I haven’t called the health dept. or division planning dept. yet but I will ASAP. I’m applying for class A, does that sound right for cake pops?

    Yes, as long as the final product doesn’t need refrigeration. For instance, banana bread, apple pie, and carrot cake (without cream cheese frosting) would all be allowed.

I would like to start selling some cakes and cupcakes and read that those are permitted, but cream and custard are not. Does that mean I’m restricted to certain kinds of frosting (I don’t know many that exist that aren’t cream)? What defines cream and custards and how will I know what is permitted and what isn’t? For example, cream cheese frosting, buttercream or just regular chocolate frosting – are one or some allowed?

    First of all, check out the definition of non-PHF. Your products need to fall into that category to be considered. Cream cheese frosting is an example of something that is not allowed. Buttercreams are usually allowed, but because of some misinformation, some counties aren’t allowing those (but they should be, and you can push back if they say no). A standard frosting of some milk and powdered sugar will be allowed.

    Hi David, thank you so much for taking the time (and patience) to answer all the questions. Everything is very informative. With regards to not selling bakery items that require refrigeration, is it possible to have a customer sign a waiver or release of liability form? Something stating that they acknowledge they are purchasing a perishable bakery item, have been advised by the seller to refrigerate (or consume) the item by a certain time, and they assume risk if they do not do follow what the seller has advised? Thanks in advance!

Hi there, thanks so much for posting all of this information. I’m having trouble finding out whether or not my county will allow internet sales as I currently sell some baked goods via Etsy all over the US. Obviously I don’t want to get in trouble by unintentionally breaking a law but I also rely heavily on my internet sales. I am located in San Bernardino County in CA.

    Internet sales are allowed, but shipping is probably not allowed. Any out-of-state sales are definitely not allowed. You could look in your application packet and see if there is a clause in there prohibiting you from using a delivery service, like USPS. If nothing is in there that specifies it, then your county still might not allow shipping, but you’d need to call them to check. If you want to do interstate sales legally, then you need to go commercial:

    I am also San Bernardino county and it is not allowed. I do vegan and since it’s a speciality I was selling via internet and shipping. I have since stop shipping I still take internet orders. But now I drop off or they pick up.

I am applying for a Class B CFO permit. I’m going to sell individually wrapped candies, and the labels will be approximately 2″ x 1.5″. In researching the requirements for the size of the typeface for various elements of the label, i.e. ingredients list, I found several references to the fact that, if your label is very small, the minimum size requirements may not apply. However, I can’t find more information about this. I have designed my labels with “made in a home kitchen” in 12-point type (which takes up a disproportionately large area of the decorative (main) part of the label, but there’s no way I can fit the ingredients list on the second panel unless I use 6-point type or smaller. It is perfectly legible and clear, but tiny. I’ve put the “Net Weight: 1 oz (28g)” in larger letters (1/16″ high, in accordance with something or other I read), and in every other way I think my label is in accordance with requirements. Where can I find the exact wording for label requirements for small labels?
One other question: I have been looking on for similar candy for sale, and I find plenty of people out there making and selling candy on Etsy, but I can’t imagine they have all gone through this process. Most seem to be making and selling from their homes. Since the CFO permit prohibits mail order sales, how is this legal?

    I’ve never heard of special rules for small labels, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist. In this case, it sounds like your packaging isn’t really suitable for a label, which is similar to large items like wedding cakes that don’t have any packaging. In the case of unpackaged cakes, a CFO is required to have a separate label on-hand for the buyer. You could ask your health dept if it would be okay to place label cards near your candies for the buyers to take if they want. And obviously, if you are selling a package of them, you’d have enough room on the package for the label.

    Most of the CA homemade foods sold on Etsy are illegal. Most are not registered as CFOs, and as you said, even if they were, it’d still be illegal to ship (except for a couple counties that may allow shipping). Some other states actually do allow homemade foods to be sold online and shipped, but only intrastate. So any out-of-state sales from those sellers would also be illegal. There’s not really much more I can say other than that illegal homemade food sales, both in-person and online, have been very common for as long as such sales have been considered illegal.

    Kristin, you can easily come up with something nice color-wise, but if you put the ingredients as large as possible, justified to the full dimensions of the label, you can then overlay “maid in a home kitchen” using the transparency function of most word processing programs. Then, “made in a home kitch”, can be in a much larger font, perhaps aligning to upward and downward curves. The reader will be able to read both quite easily.

    Interesting idea Terry! Did your health dept approve a label like that? Kristin, just remember that all health depts are different some accept things that others reject.

I just got my CFO Class A permit in Los Angeles County. I read that I need to also have a business license now. Does anyone know how much a Business License for Los Angeles City is? (I checked my home address and it said Los Angeles City.) I’m trying to estimate my total costs for everything so I can plan accordingly. Thank you! :)

I make cakes (wedding, birthday, ect) I was wondering how these are to be labeled? The cakes are very heavy so I’m not sure how I would put the weight on them. Also this is all acceptable under the class A as long as I’m selling directly to the individual correct? I’m super interested in earning extra cash from my home doing cakes and cupcakes but don’t know where to start. Thank you

    Yes, you can do this business with a class A registration. You can keep the label separate from the cake, if it’s not boxed. But it should be available to the buyer. As far as weight is concerned, I don’t really know the best way to weigh a cake, but maybe you’ll have to get a scale that accommodates one. You might try asking that question on Cake Central, or maybe it’s already been asked.

So happy I found this site :)
Not sure what steps to take to get my Cottage License (Class A). But I want to start selling my Nutter Butters legitimately. I just took and passed that health and safety certificate course online. What are the next steps from there? This is all new to me! I live in LA County (San Fernando
Valley). Help???
Thank you so much!

So after talking to someone from my city, I’m very discouraged. They have still not put any rules in place for approving cottage food from my home and stated they might have a “minor use permit fee of $900-$1,000″. This seems crazy because I’m trying to make a little extra money, I don’t have that kind of money just so the city can be assured I’m not “running some big business out of my home”. She even tried to compare what I’m doing to running a home child care business! Any suggestions..? Thanks in advance! :)

    Did a little further research on a nearby city. Their fee for planning committee to review an application is a whopping $83…. How crazy is that? And my city’s planning dept said their excessive fees are to “inspect”, and to notify neighbors within a 300 feet radius, bla, bla, bla…. Seems like they’re trying to be the health department, which obviously doesn’t even inspect unless it’s for a class B license.
    How is someone supposed to legally register a cottage food business when the city makes it almost impossible? I’m doing it for a little extra money, not to basically give up any potential profits equalling several months profits to be legit.. I don’t think this law was signed for the cities to take advantage of potential small business owners…

    Kim, this is really interesting to hear. What city/county are you referring to? It’s especially interesting that your issues are with the city, not the health dept. Health depts are usually the only ones with any valid reasons to be opposed to the law (safety concerns).

    I know that in San Joaquin County, it would have cost me over $600 to start my CFO, because the Home Occupation Permit was over $400 by itself. However, the yearly renewal fee for the HOP was very low, so over time it wouldn’t end up being that much. Also, they required a HOP for all home businesses so I couldn’t blame them too much.

    Some people have pointed out that CFOs are different from most businesses in that there are already limitations on how much money they can make, so they shouldn’t be getting hit up with the kinds of fees that most full-time home businesses have. After taxes and operating costs, you’d be doing really well to make $20K of profit. If your city is trying to impose a fee for ensuring that your operation remains small, then they really shouldn’t be doing that because the law was already specifically designed to ensure that.

    You can ask to see the ordinances that were created for CFOs. Since you said they have none, then you can easily dispute these fees. However, maybe they are just now getting started in creating ordinances because of you, and in that case, you should be able to have some sway. The business you’re starting is unlike most full-time businesses and in many cities, the zoning fees are $0. Considering what so many other areas are charging, it’s hard for them to validate high fees like that.

    Here is an excerpt of the law:

    (The city may) require any cottage food operation to apply for a permit… The use permit shall be granted if the cottage food operation complies with local ordinances, if any, prescribing reasonable standards, restrictions, and requirements concerning the following factors: spacing and concentration, traffic control, parking, and noise control relating to those homes. Any noise standards shall be consistent with local noise ordinances implementing the noise element of the general plan. The local government shall process any required permit as economically as possible. Fees charged for review shall not exceed the costs of the review and permit process. An applicant may request a verification of fees, and the city, county, or city and county shall provide the applicant with a written breakdown within 45 days of the request…

    So as you can see, there is specific language in the law to help ensure that cities don’t charge too much. Let me know if you keep running into roadblocks with them, and I’ll try to put you in touch with someone that may be able to help. However, the most effective thing may just be you being vocal about it and meeting/talking with the powers that be.

    Thanks for your reply David. Here’s the actual text from the city of Azusa’s (located within Los Angeles County) planning department to me yesterday. I sent another email with the info about the city of San Dimas, (only a few miles away from Azusa), and interestingly, no response yet…
    “The city will be taking a number of proposed Development Code amendments to the Planning Commission at the March 26, 2014, meeting. Adoption of a Cottage Food Ordinance will be one of the proposed amendments. The City will be recommending the Planning Commission and City Council impose a Minor Use Permit application requirement to enable staff to review all proposed cottage food operations, thereby providing the City the ability to assign Conditions of Approval for each cottage food business. Cottage Food operations will be allowed to sell items directly from the home, so the City feels it will be necessary to review each application and ensure that certain requirements are placed on those approvals in order to avoid complaints from neighboring property owners regarding hours of operation, noise and pedestrian or vehicle traffic issues that may arise.
    The City’s Minor Use Permit process is the lowest level use permit review available. As Naomi indicated, a Minor Use Permit is also required to establish “Large Family Daycare” uses within neighborhood zones. This process requires the City to provide notice to all property owners within 300 feet of the subject site and enables the City to place conditions of approval on uses established within the City where conflicts may arise with the surrounding land uses. We believe this is the most appropriate application due to the sensitive nature of residential neighborhoods, and the potential impacts that commercial home-based businesses may have on the surrounding properties.”

    Thanks for the feedback and advice. Hopefully they will rethink the way they’re thinking of implementing the CFO’s… I’m wondering if there’s a lot of other cities that have yet to implement CFO’s.. Over a year after law is signed and only talking about it still..? She mentioned something about the law coming about abruptly, which is obviously not true. I’m hoping to become a legit CFO.
    I am in middle of divorce, and am on a fixed income. I just don’t have an extra $1,000 lying around, plus the fees to file for regular business license, etc… I just don’t see how anyone in their right mind would pay such ridiculous fees. I will forward the city the excerpt from the law you included, and hope they will reconsider their current plans.. I think you’re right, hopefully I can be one to help sway their decisions into a more reasonable way to implement CFO’s…
    Crossing my fingers.. :)

    It’s not unheard of for cities, or even counties, to be really slow to implement things like this, especially if nobody’s asked about it yet. It took the entire state of Washington over a year to process their first CFO application after the law went into effect.

    Other counties have opted to prohibit at-home sales for CFOs, because of the concerns raised in that email. You could ask them if excluding that venue would be an option for a CFO, and if the minor use permit would no longer be necessary if that were the case.

I was wondering if you knew what the average lead time to get approved is say, from the date the application is received to the date of approval. Thanks!

    It totally depends on your county/city. I know that Berkeley has approved CFOs in the same day, and in some counties it can take up to two months. I’d guess the average is about 3 weeks, from the time you submit your paperwork to the time you get approved.

Question: I have recently been asked to bake pies for a local restaurant; my oven is way to small to fill the demand. With a Class B, can I use my churches ovens to bake? Everything else would be done here. Just the actual cooking part there. Thanks in advance. Oh, could I register my church kitchen as my homebase? Lots of questions running a muck…… hehehe

    No, you can only use the kitchen of the home that you live in. The only way I think you could increase the capacity of your kitchen would be to get a double oven intended for residential use. Anything more than that would be pushing the limits of the cottage food law. Just to be clear, you can’t register your church’s kitchen as your homebase.

    It honestly sounds like a regular food business would be better for you anyway, especially since you already have access to a commercial kitchen. If you’re getting really consistent business from the restaurant then you may not be able to stay under the sales limit for a CFO.

    Yes. You will eventually have to contact your planning division, and they will tell you what other licenses or permits are required for your area. You shouldn’t be able to get approval from the health dept without checking in on these things… if you call them to start the process, they will guide you.

What about nuts that are prepped in a kitchen, smoked in a smoker a few feet outside of the kitchen, then finished in an oven inside the kitchen. Would I have to move the smoker inside the kitchen and run a vent tube outside so that the entire process takes place inside the kitchen?

    Technically everything does need to be done in the kitchen. But putting the smoker inside the kitchen would simply be a fire hazard, and that’s why some counties are even requiring fire dept inspections and kitchen layouts. I’d say you have two realistic options: 1) Take the nuts outside and don’t tell anyone at the health dept, or 2) Change the way you’re smoking them.
    Please don’t try using the smoker in the house. I don’t think you’d burn your house down, but it’s decisions like that that cause the health departments to check everything and distrust everyone.

I’m looking into starting a breakfast delivery service for offices and it would include the sale of baked goods and fresh fruit/juices, all of which would be refrigerated according to food handling guidelines before being consumed. I haven’t been able to figure out whether or not that’s compliant with the CFO guidelines.

    If it requires refrigeration, then it would not be allowed as a cottage food. Are you trying to make these items yourself, or just distributing them? If you are trying to make them, then you would need a commercial kitchen to make things like juices. Also, you can’t mix a cottage food operation with a commercial food business, so it is likely that you won’t be able to take advantage of the cottage food law.

    The only way it might work is if you baked cottage foods in your home and also delivered prepackaged juices (or other non-cottage food items) that you bought at the store… I’m not exactly sure what the rules are for that, but I’m pretty sure it’s separate from a commercial food business since you’re not preparing the items. You have a pretty specific circumstance and I think you’ll have the best luck calling the health dept for more info.

I wanted to know if Macarons are approve for a CFO business? If cakes and cupcakes are allowed, and they have creams; i.e. buttercream, then cake pops, and macarons are allowed too. Right? Thanks in advance for your help!

    Macarons are allowed in most counties, but some counties have been disallowing ganache and buttercream, even though they should be allowing them. You can check with your county’s health dept to see if they allow these, but I’d also recommend that you suggest to the CDPH that they added items like ganache and buttercream to the list of allowed foods. You have one day left!

I am curious how fermented products like Kimchi, Kraut and Pickles fit into this law. Are they allowed?

Also, if I am producing those products in a certified kitchen that I have access to, can it still be under the cottage laws?


Hi Two Questions:
If candy and baked goods qualify for being “Home made” or made at home… but the rule says you cannot prepare (family meals) at the same kitchen. Then what would I have to do, in able to make everything the way it should be… Do I make a second kitchen in my household or how would it work? Also, if I decide not to bake anything, and just purchase everything at the store (example: Fill jars with candy for a candy table) Do I need a separate kitchen too? and do I have to get a permit for this second choice, even if I’m not making anything Thank you in advance. :)

    You can use the same kitchen, but you can’t use it for work and family at the same time. The kitchen should be solely dedicated to your business while you are preparing your cottage foods. Thanks for asking about this… I can see how that line can be confusing.

    If you just want to resell items, this would be separate from your cottage food operation. However, it is possible to do without using another kitchen, as long as everything you’re selling is prepackaged and not altered by you. I think you need a seller’s permit, but you should call your health dept to determine exactly how to go about this type of business.

I’m going to make wedding cakes for my friends and family. The wedding receptions will be held at restaurants. I can foreseeing that I’ll do about 2 -3 wedding cakes this year (one on May and one on June). Do I have to apply for CFO Class A permit and if yes, would you please guide me how to apply? Thanks so much

Question regarding planning and zoning. I’m applying for “Class A” in Sacramento County. What type of planning and zoning do I need and where do I go to find the information?

    You just need to call your planning division and tell them you’re starting a cottage food operation. They’ll check your area (your zone) and tell you if you need to apply for anything, like a business license or home occupation permit.

    Only the list of ingredients may be on a secondary label affixed to a different location on the product. All the other information must be included on the primary label that is affixed to the top or front of the product.

If I have submitted an application to the City (Tulare County) (CA) as Kathy Sing Creations but using another name (Kathy’s Kernels) on my label and as my business name for the Health Dept application, is that legal? Used Kathy Sing Creations to eliminate having to get a dba, but not using that name on my labels. thanks

    Kathy, the name on your labels should match what’s on your business license. What is your motivation for not getting a DBA? The extra cost? If your labels say “Kathy’s Kernels” then you’re really “doing business as” that, right?

    No, all sales must be within the state of CA. Technically, someone who lives in another state could find your product online, drive to CA and pickup and pay for it there.

Has anyone had any issues with their labels getting approved? I’ve been talking to the same person at the Los Angeles Dept. of Health who first told me “Made in a Home Kitchen” needs to be listed first on my label because that is how it looks on the sample label, but no other items on my label needed to be changed (I spent quite a bit of time designing a label and branding for my goods).

When I argued that nowhere in the legislature does it state this with links to the Homemade Food Act, and argued that if that were the case all other items on my label should be identical to the sample, she then changed her tune and just said to match the sample label exactly.

Do we have to match the exact sample label? If so, I feel that would severely hurt my brand.

    I have definitely not heard of a department requiring an exact match to the sample label (which I believe is termed “sample” because it is an example rather than something the CDPH was expecting to be copied). The sample label produced by the CDPH is their recommendation of how a proper label could look, and it is up to local health depts to adopt CDPH’s recommendations if they choose to.

    In the case of LA county, I just met a CFO from La Mirada this past weekend who definitely has custom labels for her business. There are already thousands of CFOs in the LA area and I know that most of them are not copying that very poorly designed sample label. I think if you dig a little deeper you won’t be pushed to copy that label… it just sounds like you talked to the wrong person.

    But by the way, the health dept could technically choose to only allow labels that look a certain way. In this case, I think you’ll find your best defense in all the other CFOs they’ve already approved without this restriction. I personally think it would be reasonable for them to require that the disclaimer show at the top, but they should let you keep your design.

FYI, at least in Los Angeles County, every time you change ingredients or add products to your CFO menu, you have to submit new labels and a check for $65.00. I did this, and it took 6 weeks and the assistance of my county supervisor’s office to get my new products approved. I get the feeling that the system is overwhelmed with applications.

    That’s good to know. I’ve heard that LA is overloaded, and it’s probably because they’re checking every single label variation! It also may be because the registration fee is so low, which I’ve heard they are considering increasing soon.

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