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California Can you legally sell food from home in California?

Cottage Food Law

California passed their first cottage food law (AB 1616 – The California Homemade Food Act) in 2012, and it went into effect on January 1st, 2013. The law was amended in 2013 (AB 1252) and 2021 (AB 1144 & AB 831).

California has two classes of cottage food operations (CFOs): Class A & Class B.

Class A CFOs can sell their products directly (in-person) and online. They can also ship their products and use a third-party delivery service (like Postmates).

In addition to that, Class B CFOs can also sell their products indirectly through stores, restaurants, and other wholesale venues. Getting a Class B permit is more expensive and requires a home kitchen inspection.

Class A CFOs have a yearly sales limit of $75,000, while Class B CFOs have a yearly sales limit of $150,000.

All other requirements for both classes are the same. All sales and deliveries must be made within California, and CFOs can only have one non-family employee.

CFOs can only sell items from an official approved foods list, which the health department is able to change over time. The list includes most non-perishable foods.

In 2018, a new law (AB 626) enabled “microenterprise home kitchen operations” to sell virtually any kind of homemade food, albeit with many restrictions. However, these micro-restaurants are only allowed in certain counties of the state. Home cooks cannot have both a cottage food operation (described on this page) and a microenterprise home kitchen operation — they need to decide on one or the other.

Selling Where can you sell homemade food products?

There are two classes of cottage food operations — Class A & Class B:

  • A Class A registration only allows direct sales, and therefore does not allow you to sell at retail stores, grocery stores, restaurants, or other wholesale venues. As a Class A CFO, you can still sell online and ship your products within the state.
  • A Class B permit allows direct and indirect sales, and lets you to sell at all of the above allowed venues.

In addition to being able to ship within California, all CFOs can fulfill orders with a third-party delivery services (e.g. Postmates, Doordash, UberEats, etc).

A restaurant can buy products from a Class B CFO and use them in their dishes, as long as they inform the consumer on their menu that they are doing so.

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

Wherever you advertise to the public (including via a website, social media platform, newspaper, newsletter, or any other public announcement), you must include the following on the advertisement:

  • Your county name
  • Your permit/registration number
  • The statement “Made in a Home Kitchen” or “Repackaged in a Home Kitchen”

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Allowed Foods What food products can you sell from home?

You can ONLY sell items that are on the official Approved Foods List.

You can only sell jams, jellies, preserves & fruit butters that comply with 21 CFR 150 of the Federal Food Code. The rules are complex, but in simple terms, most high-sugar fruit items are allowed. To learn more, see this resource and/or ask your local environmental health department.

For certain items, you should be aware of some special restrictions:

The health department can change or add to the Approved Foods List. If you want something added to the 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

Limitations How will your home food business be restricted?

Sales are limited to $150,000 per year
The yearly sales limit is $150,000 for Class B CFOs
Sales are limited to $75,000 per year
The yearly sales limit is $75,000 for Class A CFOs

Starting in 2023, the sales limits will increase annually to keep up with inflation.

Business What do you need to do to sell food from home?

Food Safety Training

You and your employees must take an approved food safety training course, such as Learn2Serve’s Food Handler Training Course, which costs $7 (for most counties) and can be taken online in a couple of hours.

For a list of other approved food safety courses, see here.

You must complete food safety training once every 3 years.

Permit or Registration

Before you can start selling, you need to get a Class B permit or Class A registration from your local environmental health department.

If you choose a Class B permit (which allows indirect sales and has a higher sales limit), you must get a home kitchen inspection. In most counties, a Class B permit is significantly more expensive than choosing Class A.

If you choose to register as a Class A CFO, you will complete a self-certification checklist on your application.

The cost to apply, as well as the application itself, can vary greatly depending on which county you live in.

You must renew your permit or registration every year. Some counties charge a fee to renew.

Home Kitchen Inspection

If you apply for a Class B permit, a health official will inspect your home kitchen before approving your application.

Private Water Source

If your home uses a private water source (like a private well), you must get the water tested to make sure it’s safe.

Private Sewer

If your home uses a private sewer system (like a septic tank), you must get it inspected.

Sample Label Review

Some counties require you to submit only one sample label, while others require a sample label for every product you want to sell.

CalGOLD is a website that lists all of the licenses/permit that a business needs in California. To find the licenses and requirements you need, click here to open CalGOLD and enter your county (the Business Type should be pre-filled with “Cottage Food Operation”). You may have to contact your zoning office to determine if you are within city limits or in an unincorporated area of your county.

Labeling How do you label cottage food products?

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)


If your home address is listed in a current telephone directory, then you don’t need to include your street address on the label (but you still need to include your city, state, and zip code).

You can find more labeling information in this labeling guide.

If your product only contains commercially-produced items that were recombined (e.g. a spice blend), the disclaimer statement should say “Repackaged in a home kitchen”.

If you sell drink mixes that contain protein, you cannot use “protein” in the product name (e.g. “protein powder” would not be allowed).

Wherever you advertise to the public (including via a website, social media platform, newspaper, newsletter, or any other public announcement), you must include the following on the advertisement:

  • Your county name
  • Your permit/registration number
  • The statement “Made in a Home Kitchen” or “Repackaged in a Home Kitchen”

Workplace Are there any home kitchen requirements?

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

You can find more information about workplace requirements in this sanitation guide.

Resources Where can you find more information about this law?

Department
California Department of Public Health
Contacts
Organization
Food & Drug Branch
Department
California Department of Public Health
Email
FDBRetail@cdph.ca.gov
Telephone
(800) 495-3232
Address
1500 Capitol Ave, MS 7602
Sacramento, CA 95814
Law Dates
January 2013
AB 1616
January 2014
AB 1252
January 2022
AB 1144
January 2022
AB 831

In addition to the links above, other law sections that apply to cottage food operations are GOV 51035 and HSC 114088, 109947, 110050, 110460, 111955, 113789(c)(2), 113851, 114021(b), 114023, 114390, 114405, & 114409.

Until 2022, if Class B CFOs wanted to sell indirectly in other counties, they needed to get permission from each county’s health department.

To learn more about what went into creating CA’s most recent amendment (AB 1144), read this post on Forrager.

The Sustainable Economies Law Center (SELC) was a major supporter of the initial bill (AB 1616). See this page for more info about their efforts.

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