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:
- Completed CFO Registration/Permit Form
- Completed Self Certification Checklist
- Completed Permit Application
- Foodhandler Card Certificate
- Label Samples (one for each category of proposed food products)
- Proof of Business Directory Listing (if the CFO Owner chooses to list the business name instead of the Owner’s name on the label)
- Well water Testing Results (For CFO Operators whose water is supplied by a private well)
CFO Documents and Resources
- ACDEH CFO Registration/Permitting Form
- ACDEH CFO Self Certification Checklist
- California Foodhandler Card Accredited Provider List
- CCDEH FAQ
- CDPH Approved Cottage Food List
- CDPH California Homemade Food Act Frequently Asked Questions
- CFO Label Requirements
- Do You Qualify As A Cottage Food Operation? CPDH Decision Tree
- Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Food Allergen Labeling Requirements
Microenterprise Home Kitchen Operations (MEHKO)
A MEHKO is a type of food service that is owned and operated by the resident in a private home where food is stored, handled, and prepared to be served or delivered to customers. Food must be prepared the day of service and can be eaten onsite or delivered to the customer. Food may also be advertised through an internet website or a phone based mobile app of an Internet Food Service Intermediary. Food products are not to be sold to a wholesale or retail food facility (restaurants, temporary food facilities, mobile food trucks/carts, cottage food facilities, or community events).
How do I start a MEHKO?
- “Microenterprise Home Kitchen Operation (MEHKO) – Application / Standard Operating Procedures” can be downloaded or are available at the Department of Environmental Health, located at:
Alameda, CA 94502
- To begin the permitting process, submit the “Microenterprise Home Kitchen Operation (MEHKO) – Application / Standard Operating Procedures” application by mail or walk-in along with the permit fee of $696.00. Application will not be processed until payment is secured.
- Once the completed application and standard operating procedures documents are reviewed and approved by ACDEH, an initial inspection will be scheduled and conducted at the private residence to verify compliance with state law.
- A Permit to Operate may be issued after the permit fee is paid, application is approved, and an initial inspection is conducted verifying compliance.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Involve the production, service, or sale of raw milk or raw milk products
- Involve the service or sale of raw oysters
- Involve food processes that require a Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) Plan such as:
- Smoking food as a method of food preservation
- Curing food
- Using food additives or adding components such as vinegar as a method of food preservation
- Operating a molluscan shellfish life support system display tank used to store and display shellfish that are offered for human consumption
- Using acidification or water activity to prevent the growth of Clostridium botulinum
- Packaging potentially hazardous food using a Reduced-Oxygen Packaging method
- Preparing food by another method that is determined by the lead local agency to require a HACCP Plan
- Involve the manufacturing of ice cream, cheese, yogurt, and other dairy products without a license from California Department of Food and Agriculture
- Contains alcohol without the appropriate liquor license from Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC)
- Operated on the same property within reasonable proximity
- Not accessible by the public
- Not in a location that constitutes a fire hazard or creates a nuisance.
- Meets the requirements of the California Retail Food Code
- Written standard operating procedures that include a menu and hours of operation
- A valid permit issued by DEH must be displayed onsite when the MEHKO is in operation.
- A copy of the most recent DEH inspection report
- Records of all receipts from MEHKO sales