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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: 2012
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 1, 2017:

  • 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 Federal Regulations.
  • 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 combination thereof.
  • 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, blackberry,
  • blueberry, cherry, cranberry, grape, huckleberry, gooseberry, loganberry, pomegranate, pineapple, raspberry, strawberry, tomatillo, youngberry, grapefruit, kumquat, lemon, lime, orange).

Prohitied foods

These include:

  • 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.).

Labeling requirements

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:

  1. From your home
  2. At holiday bazaars or temporary events, bake sales or food swaps
  3. At farm stands and Certified Farmers' Markets
  4. 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.
Short-range paper 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, including:

  • ​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 the following:

  • ​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 out
  • Wash hands frequently while working
  • Consider annual testing of water if using a private well

More resources:

Los Angelos County and Other counties have good resources:



Questions? Contact Information:

PO Box 997377
MS 0500
Sacramento, CA 95899-7377

For General Public Information:
(916) 558-1784