Home-Based Food Business

Cottage Food Operation (CFO)

The Cottage Food Bill was signed into law on September 21, 2012 and became effective on January 1, 2013.  This law allows residents in California to prepare approved food products in their home kitchen for direct sales to the public (CFO Class A) or direct and indirect sales to the public (CFO Class B).  Approved Cottage Food Products are non-potentially hazardous foods, which pose a low risk for bacteria contamination and foodborne illness.

All food products sold by Cottage Food Operators (CFO) must be listed on the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) Cottage Food Operations (Approved Food List) and prepared, packaged and labeled per the California Health and Safety Code.  Additional fees will apply for investigation of valid complaints and re-inspections related to improperly labeled products or unapproved products offered for sale.

The CFO must maintain sanitary conditions, and maintain compliance with food and allergen labeling requirements in accordance with federal and state regulations and comply with established gross annual sales limits.

CFO Class A Operators can only sell directly to consumers.

 A “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.

“Direct sale” means a transaction within the state 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.

CFO Class B Operators can sell directly to customers and indirectly to Permitted Retail Food Facility Operators (markets, bakeries, restaurants etc.).

A “Class B” COTTAGE FOOD OPERATION, which is a COTTAGE FOOD OPERATION that may engage in both direct sales and indirect sales of cottage FOOD products from the COTTAGE FOOD OPERATION.

"Direct sale” means a transaction within the state 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.

“Indirect sale” means an interaction between a COTTAGE  FOOD OPERATION, a third-party retailer, and a consumer, where the CONSUMER purchases cottage FOOD products made by the COTTAGE FOOD OPERATION from a third-party retailer that holds a valid permit issued pursuant to Section 114381. Indirect sales include, but are not limited to, sales made to retail shops or to RETAIL FOOD facilities where FOOD may be immediately consumed on the PREMISES.

Alameda County residents interested in becoming a Cottage Food Operator, must obtain approval from the Alameda County Department of Environmental Health and the City Planning Department.

The following documents must be submitted with the required fee for review to the Alameda County Department of Environmental Health:

Microenterprise Home Kitchen Operations (MEHKO)

Alameda County Department of Environmental Health is not authorizing MEHKO permits at this time. Anyone who operates a retail home kitchen from their residence within Alameda County Department of Environmental Health’s jurisdiction is in violation of the California Retail Food Code.  Violators are subject to closure and further enforcement actions.

Alameda County Department of Environmental Health is currently coordinating with local governing bodies of the County and its cities to determine local implementation options for AB 377.  Please check back periodically as implementation and permit details are established.