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California Cottage Food Laws and Regulations: How to sell your homemade foods in California
California Cottage Food Laws, Regulations and Facts
Date of the enactment of the California cottage food law:
Assembly Bill (AB) 1616 Chapter 415, Statutes of 2012, was
signed into law by Governor Brown on September 21, 2012; effective
January 1, 2013. The bill allows individuals to prepare and/or
package certain non-potentially hazardous foods in private-home
kitchens referred to as "cottage food operations" (CFOs).
All CFOs have to meet the following requirements (Scroll down the
page or click on the links for more information)
Which foods may I prepare at home to sell?
Below is a list from the California Department of Public
Health (CDPH) of the currently approved food products as of January
- Baked goods, without cream, custard, or meat fillings
- Candy, such as brittle and toffee.
- jellyDried fruit.
- Dried pasta.
- Fruit pies, fruit empanadas, and fruit tamales.
- Granola, cereals, and trail mixes.
- Jams, jellies, preserves, and fruit butter that comply with
the standard described in Part 150 of Title 21 of the Code of
- Nut mixes and nut butters.
- Vinegar and mustard.
- Roasted coffee and dried tea.
- Confections such as salted caramel, fudge, marshmallow bars,
chocolate covered marshmallows, nuts, and hard candy, or any
- Dried or Dehydrated vegetables.
- Dried grain mixes.
- Fried or baked donuts and waffles
- Dried hot chocolate powdered mixes or hardened cocoa pieces
- Fruit infused balsamic vinegar (containing only high-acid
fruits such as apple, crabapple, nectarine, peach, plum, quince,
- blueberry, cherry, cranberry, grape, huckleberry,
gooseberry, loganberry, pomegranate, pineapple, raspberry,
strawberry, tomatillo, youngberry, grapefruit, kumquat, lemon,
- Pickled products, acidified foods such as chutneys and
salsas, foods containing meat, and any food that requires
refrigeration are NOT approved cottage foods in California.
- "Cottage Food Production Operation"
according to Code means,
a person who, in the person's home, produces food items that are not potentially hazardous foods,
including bakery products, jams, jellies, candy, fruit butter, and similar products specified in rules.
These foods must be labeled properly or they will be considered misbranded or adulterated
- "Home" means the primary residence occupied by the residence's owner, on the condition that the
residence contains only one stove or oven used for cooking, which may be a double oven, designed
for common residence usage and not for a commercial usage, and that the stove or oven be operated in
an ordinary kitchen within the residence.
- Prohibited foods include acidified foods,
low-acid canned foods, potentially hazardous foods or
non-potentially hazardous foods not listed above. Low acid food
means any food with a finished equilibrium pH greater than 4.6
and a water activity greater than 0.85. Acidified food means a
low acid food to which acids or acid foods are added (Ex. Beans,
cucumbers, cabbage, puddings, etc.). Potentially hazardous food
means it requires temperature control because it is in a form
capable of supporting the rapid and progressive growth of
infectious or toxigenic microorganisms (Ex. Raw or cooked animal
products, cooked vegetables, garlic in oil, cheese cakes,
pumpkin pies, custard pies, cream pies, etc.).
Cottage Food Production Operations must label all of their food products properly,
which include the following information on the label of each unit of food product offered or
distributed for sale:
Where may Cottage Food Production Operations sell the food products?
Cottage Food Products may not be sold across state lines.
In other words, only be sold within the state.,
Permissible locations are:
- From your home
- At holiday bazaars or temporary events, bake sales or food
- At farm stands and Certified Farmers' Markets
- Through community-supported agriculture subscription
*Direct sales under 2, 3, and 4 above,
may require additional permits.
Beyond the requirements, common sense, good practices and
reducing liability suggests you should do the following.
Testing of pH
It's best to use a pH meter, properly calibrated on the day
used. I use this
one, which is reliable and inexpensive.
pH test strips, commonly known as litmus paper, may be used
instead, if the product normally has a pH of 4.0 or lower and the
paper's range includes a pH of 4.6.
Record-keeping is suggested
Keep a written record of every batch of product made for sale,
- Recipe, including procedures and ingredients
- Amount canned and sold
- Canning date
- Sale dates and locations
- Gross sales receipts
- Results of any pH test
Although iInspections are not required, you should consider doing
- Use clean equipment that has been effectively sanitized
prior to use
- Clean work surfaces and then sanitize with bleach water
before and after use
- Keep ingredients separate from other unprocessed foods
- Keep household pets out of the work area
- Keep walls and floors clean
- Have adequate lighting
- Keep window and door screens in good repair to keep insects
- Wash hands frequently while working
- Consider annual testing of water if using a private well
Los Angelos County and Other counties have good resources:
Questions? Contact Information:
PO Box 997377
Sacramento, CA 95899-7377
General Public Information: