AB 1616 by Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D- Los Angeles) was signed into law by Governor Brown, establishing the California Homemade Food Act, which will go into effect on January 1, 2013. Under the Act, registered or permitted cottage food producers will be able to produce, in their home kitchens, certain non-potentially hazardous foods for sale or distribution to the public. Those foods include the following (and their ethnic variations):
- Baked goods without cream, custard, or meat fillings, such as breads, biscuits, churros, cookies, pastries, and tortillas
- Candy, such as brittle and toffee
- Chocolate-covered nonperishable foods, such as nuts and dried fruit
- Dried fruit
- Dried pasta
- Dry baking mixes
- Fruit pies, fruit empanadas, and fruit tamales
- Granola, cereals, and trail mixes
- Herb blends and dried mole paste
- Honey and sweet sorghum syrup
- Jams, jellies, preserves, and fruit butter that comply with the standard described in Part 150 of Title 21 of the Code of Federal Regulations
- Nut mixes and nut butters
- Vinegar and mustard
- Roasted coffee and dried tea
- Waffle cones and pizelles
The Act gives food producers the option of pursuing two potential points of sale:
Class A – Direct Sales
This permits producers to sell directly to their consumers through a face-to-face interaction either from home (if allowed by local zoning) or through bake sales, farmers markets, food swaps, CSA subscriptions and similar venues.
Class B – Indirect Sales
This permits producers to sell directly (Class A) AND indirectly to customers through restaurants and other retail outlets within the county of production, as well as any county that accepts Cottage foods from their county.
If a home food maker wishes to work in "Class B", that food maker will obtain a permit from the local health department, complete the self-certification checklist, and receive an inspection before beginning production and up to once per year to verify compliance with standards.
All home food makers MUST take a cottage food processor course to be developed by the California Department of Public Health. It will take no more than 4 hours and be available throughout the state.
As a new state law, there will be a period of time for the development and implementation of the program between the effective date, January 1, 2013, and the date on which cottage food producers can begin registering with their local health departments. While the program will be run through the local county health departments, it will be overseen by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH).
The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) will be responsible for publishing the approved food products list, and the current, updated list will be available on CDPH’s website. The Director of CDPH maintains the authority to both add products to approved food products list and remove products from approved products list. Any changes to the list will be posted on CDPH’s website and will take effect 30 days after the change has been made.
As with any new business, I would encourage anyone who has technical questions about the law or starting a new small business to seek legal and financial expertise from professionals to assure that all of your questions are answered correctly.
I wish you all the best as you learn how to take advantage of this brand new opportunity for a successful business in California!
For non-technical questions or to receive updates on the status of the implementation of the California Homemade Food Act: