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California Cottage Food Laws

California Cottage Food Laws allows individuals to make homemade products that are non-potentially hazardous and offer them for sale.

These are foods that do not support the rapid growth of bacteria that would make people sick when held outside of refrigeration temperatures.

Step by step guide with all links to get you started fast as a Cottage Food Operator in California can be found below list of approved foods.

CALIFORNIA COTTAGE FOOD LAWS – Foods That Are Allowed

The list of approved cottage food categories and their ethnic variations, which cottage food operations are allowed to produce, are listed below.

The list will be maintained and updated by the
California Department of Public Health (CDPH) on its Internet website as necessary.

CDPH may add to or delete food products from the approved products list.

Notice of any change, reason for the change, the authority for the change, and the nature of the change to the approved food products list will be posted on the CDPH website and shall be become effective thirty (30) days after the notice is posted.

Approved Food Products List (July 1, 2020):


(1) Baked goods, without cream, custard, or meat fillings, such as breads, biscuits,
churros, cookies, pastries, and tortillas.
(2) Candy, such as brittle and toffee.
(3) Chocolate-covered nonperishable foods, such as nuts and dried fruits.
(4) Dried fruit.
(5) Dried pasta.
(6) Dry baking mixes.
(7) Fruit pies, fruit empanadas, and fruit tamales.
(8) Granola, cereals, and trail mixes.
(9) Herb blends and dried mole paste.
(10) Honey and sweet sorghum syrup.
(11) Jams, jellies, preserves, and fruit butter that comply with the standard described
in Part 150 of Title 21 of the Code of Federal Regulations. * See Below
(12) Nut mixes and nut butters.
(13) Popcorn.
(14) Vinegar and mustard.
(15) Roasted coffee and dried tea.
(16) Waffle cones and pizelles.
(17) Cotton candy.
(18) Candied apples.
(19) Confections such as salted caramel, fudge, marshmallow bars, chocolate
covered marshmallow, nuts, and hard candy, or any combination thereof.
(20) Buttercream frosting, buttercream icing, buttercream fondant, and gum paste
that do not contain eggs, cream, or cream cheese.
(21) Dried or Dehydrated vegetables.
(22) Dried vegetarian-based soup mixes.
(23) Vegetable and potato chips.
(24) Ground chocolate.
(25) Seasoning salt.
(26) Flat icing.
California Department of Public Health • Food and Drug Branch • (916) 650-6500
[email protected] Revised: 7/1/2020
(27) Marshmallows that do not contain eggs.
(28) Popcorn balls.
(29) Dried grain mixes.
(30) Fried or baked donuts and waffles.
(31) Dried hot chocolate (dried powdered mixes or molded hardened cocoa pieces).
(32) Fruit infused 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).
(33) Dried fruit powders.
(34) Dried spiced sugars.
(35) Dessert sprinkles (edible) such as sanding and crystal sugars, non-pareils,
confetti, sequins, dragees, sugar-shapes, sugar-strands (jimmies), comfits,
mini-chocolates, and pralines.

*Jams, jellies, preserves, and fruit butter: Cottage food operations which produce jams,
jellies, preserves, and other related products must be sure that their products meet the
legal established standards of identity requirements for those products as set forth in 21
CFR Part 150.

The purpose of the regulation is to maintain the integrity of the food product to ensure consumers consistently get what they expect.

The product name and ingredients listed on the label must be factual and comply with the legal definitions and standards of identity or the product may be considered misbranded.

Products made with other ingredients that are not defined in 21 CFR 150 cannot be produced by cottage food operations.

Addition of other ingredients or alteration of ingredient profiles changes the chemistry of the food, which can allow the growth of various bacteria and toxins under the right conditions.

For example, addition of peppers (i.e. jalapeno pepper) to make pepper jelly is not supported by 21 CFR 150 and the addition of this low acid ingredient could cause the formation of botulism toxin in the product if the proper controls are not used.

CALIFORNIA COTTAGE FOOD LAWS – PROHIBITED FOODS

Potentially hazardous foods that require time and/or temperature control for safety are not allowed to be produced under the California cottage food laws.

California says if it’s not on the list above, then it’s not allowed under the current program.

ADD AN ITEM TO THE CALIFORNIA APPROVED COTTAGE FOODS

You can actually add an item to the approved cottage food laws list.

  1. Read this to apply to add an item to the California Cottage Food Approved list
  2. Submit application to add item

Real Life Cottage Food Entrepreneurs and Opportunities

Cottage Food Laws - Home Baking Profits

CALIFORNIA COTTAGE FOOD OPERATIONS / OPERATORS

CFO commonly used throughout California’s cottage food laws is representative of both:

  • Cottage Food Operation(s)
  • Cottage Food Operator(s)

HOW TO START YOUR COTTAGE FOOD BUSINESS IN CALIFORNIA

A cottage food operator must meet the following requirements:

California has two (2) types of cottage food licenses available:
– Class A
– Class B

After determining which class type you wish to register under, then you’ll follow the appropriate licensing guidelines for that particular class.

Class A is easier to start but has more limitations on sales of your goods. e.g. Direct sales to the end consumer only.

CLASS A – CALIFORNIA COTTAGE FOOD OPERATIONS

“Class A” cottage food operations may engage only in direct sales of cottage food products.

A direct sale means a transaction between a cottage food operator and a consumer, where the consumer purchases the cottage food product directly from the cottage food operation within the state.

Direct sales include, but are not limited to, transactions at holiday bazaars or other temporary events, such as bake sales or food swaps, at farm stands, at certified farmers’ markets, or through community supported agriculture subscriptions, and also occurring in person at the cottage food operation location.

Before opening for business, a “Class A” cottage food operation must become registered by
the local environmental health agency (COUNTY/CITY HEALTH DEPARTMENT) and renew their registration annually.

Additionally, a self-certification check list must be submitted as part of the registration process.

The self-certification check list will demonstrate that the cottage food operation conforms to the
statutory requirements for Cottage Food Operations as set forth in California Health and
Safety Code 114365 et seq., which includes the following requirements:

(a) No cottage food preparation, packaging, or handling may occur in the home kitchen
concurrent with any other domestic activities, such as family meal preparation,
dishwashing, clothes washing or ironing, kitchen cleaning, or guest entertainment.
(b) No infants, small children, or pets may be in the home kitchen during the preparation,
packaging, or handling of any cottage food products.
(c) Kitchen equipment and utensils used to produce cottage food products shall be clean
and maintained in a good state of repair.
(d) All food contact surfaces, equipment, and utensils used for the preparation, packaging,
or handling of any cottage food products shall be washed, rinsed, and sanitized before each
use.
(e) All food preparation and food and equipment storage areas shall be maintained free of
rodents and insects.
(f) Smoking shall be prohibited in the portion of a private home used for the preparation,
packaging, storage, or handling of cottage food products and related ingredients or
equipment, or both, while cottage food products are being prepared, packaged, stored, or
handled.

“Class A” Cottage Food Operations must also comply with the provisions set forth under
California Health and Safety Code 114365.2, which specifies mandatory compliance with
Sections 113953.3, 113967, 113973, 113980, 114259.5, 114285, 114286, 114405,
114407, 114409, 114411 and 114413.

Additionally, operators must ensure that:
(a) A person with a contagious illness refrains from working in the registered area of the
cottage food operation.
(b) A person involved in the preparation or packaging of cottage food products shall keep
his or her hands and exposed portions of his or her arms clean and shall wash his or her
hands before any food preparation or packaging activity in a cottage food operation.
(c) Water used during the preparation of cottage food products shall meet the potable
drinking water standards described in Section 113869, or in accordance with the local
regulatory authority, except that a cottage food operation shall not be required to have an
indirect sewer connection. Water used during the preparation of cottage food products
includes all of the following:

(1) The washing, sanitizing, and drying of any equipment used in the preparation of a
cottage food product.
(2) The washing, sanitizing, and drying of hands and arms.
(3) Water used as an ingredient.

(d) A person who prepares or packages cottage food products shall complete a food
processor course approved by the CDPH to protect the public health within three months of
becoming registered and every three years during operation. The course shall not exceed
four hours in length. CDPH shall work with the local enforcement agency to ensure that
cottage food operators are properly notified of the location, date, and time of the classes
offered.
(e) A cottage food operation shall properly label all cottage food products in compliance
with the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (21 U.S.C. Sec. 343 et seq.) in addition to
state specific labeling requirements.
Please contact your local environmental health agency to obtain more information

CLASS B – CALIFORNIA COTTAGE FOOD OPERATIONS

“Class B ” cottage food operations may engage in both direct sales and indirect sales of
cottage food products from the cottage food operation, from offsite events, or from a third party retail food facility such as restaurants and markets within the jurisdiction of their local
environmental health agency.

“Class B” operations may also engage in indirect sales in counties outside their home permitted county, if the Environmental Health Director in that outside local environmental health agency jurisdiction permits the operator to conduct indirect sales within their jurisdiction.

After an initial inspection and before a “Class B” cottage food operation opens for business,
they must first obtain a permit from the local environmental health agency to engage in the
indirect, or direct and indirect, sale of cottage food products.

“Class B” operations must conform with the statutory requirements for Cottage Food
Operations as set forth in California Health and Safety Code 114365 et seq., which includes
the following requirements:

(a) No cottage food preparation, packaging, or handling may occur in the home kitchen
concurrent with any other domestic activities, such as family meal preparation,
dishwashing, clothes washing or ironing, kitchen cleaning, or guest entertainment.
(b) No infants, small children, or pets may be in the home kitchen during the preparation,
packaging, or handling of any cottage food products.
(c) Kitchen equipment and utensils used to produce cottage food products shall be clean
and maintained in a good state of repair.

(d) All food contact surfaces, equipment, and utensils used for the preparation, packaging,
or handling of any cottage food products shall be washed, rinsed, and sanitized before each
use.
(e) All food preparation and food and equipment storage areas shall be maintained free of
rodents and insects.
(f) Smoking shall be prohibited in the portion of a private home used for the preparation,
packaging, storage, or handling of cottage food products and related ingredients or
equipment, or both, while cottage food products are being prepared, packaged, stored, or
handled.

Class B Cottage Food Operations must also comply with the provisions set forth under
California Health and Safety Code 114365.2, which specifies mandatory compliance with
Sections 113953.3, 113967, 113973, 113980, 114259.5, 114285, 114286, 114405, 114407,
114409, 114411 and 114413.

Additionally, operators must ensure that:

(a) A person with a contagious illness refrains from preparing or packaging cottage food
products in the permitted area of the cottage food operation.
(b) A person involved in the preparation or packaging of cottage food products shall keep
his or her hands and exposed portions of his or her arms clean and shall wash his or her
hands before any food preparation or packaging activity in a cottage food operation.
(c) Water used during the preparation of cottage food products shall meet the potable
drinking water standards described in Section 113869, except that a cottage food operation
shall not be required to have an indirect sewer connection. Water used during the
preparation of cottage food products includes all of the following:
(1) The washing, sanitizing, and drying of any equipment used in the preparation of a
cottage food product.
(2) The washing, sanitizing, and drying of hands and arms.
(3) Water used as an ingredient.

(d) A person who prepares or packages cottage food products shall complete a food
processor course approved by CDPH to protect the public health within three months of
becoming registered and every three years during operation. The course shall not exceed
four hours in length. CDPH shall work with the local enforcement agency to ensure that
cottage food operators are properly notified of the location, date, and time of the classes
offered.
(e) A cottage food operation shall properly label all cottage food products in compliance
with the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (21 U.S.C. Sec. 343 et seq.) in addition to
state specific labeling requirements.

Please contact your local environmental health agency to obtain more information

ACIDITY LEVELS AND TESTING

California doesn’t require testing but their cottage food laws state that they can request samples of your product(s).

Most states determine if a food is non-potentially hazardous by the acidity level found in the food. The higher the acidity, the more stable at a range of temps, that food product is.

For example: milk is low acidity and requires temperature controls.

The acidity of foods is measured by pH.

• The range of pH is commonly considered to extend from zero to 14. A pH value of 7 is neutral because pure water has a pH value of exactly 7. Values less than 7 are considered acidic, while those greater than 7 are considered basic or alkaline.

• All fruits are acidic foods and are usually tart and sour. Ex: tomato, lemon, peach, apple, etc.

• The FDA rule for acidic foods states that a food must have a pH below 4.6 to be sold as a minimally processed food.

• Reason for this is bacteria does not grow at this level of acidity.

• Exclusion shall not be construed as allowing the sale of low acid foods (pH > 4.6) in
hermetically sealed containers (i.e. home-canned green beans, peas, etc.) when such
food is not prepared in a permitted establishment. *Exceptions for Montgomery and Calhoun Counties.

TESTING

Some states require testing if the pH level is unknown. For many food products, the pH level is already known.

You can test for pH yourself using a pH spear tester. (make sure it is made for food and has a long spear tip).

Oklahoma State University shares an awesome guide for selecting the correct tester for foods and liquids which includes tips and tricks for operation and maintenance. Get The Guide Here.

WHERE CAN YOU SELL COTTAGE FOODS

California has two types of cottage food classes or divisions. Class A and Class B.

Depending on which one you select and are licensed under – will determine where and how you can sell your foods. (see above under Class A and B for the complete differences)

CLASS A: Limited to direct sales (you to consumer directly)

CLASS B: Limited to direct and indirect sales

Inside kitchenincome.com you can find out how many cottage food entrepreneurs are getting sales faster than they can make the food.

CALIFORNIA COTTAGE FOOD LAWS LABELING REQUIREMENTS

Most states require labeling on any product produced at a home kitchen. However, even if your state doesn’t require labeling, this is your chance to stand out and show you care.

The California Cottage Food Laws requires the following on labels:

(1) The common or descriptive name of the CFO food product located on the primary
(principal) display panel.
(2) The name, city, and zip code of the CFO operation which produced the cottage food
product. If the CFO is not listed in a current telephone directory, then a street address
must also be included on the label. (A contact phone number or email address is optional
but may be helpful for contact in case a consumer wishes to contact you.
(3) The words “Made in a Home Kitchen” o r “ Repackaged in a Home Kitchen” as
applicable, in 12-point type must appear on the principal display panel. *Note: if
labeled as “Repackaged in a Home Kitchen” then a description of any purchased ready-toeat
products not used as an ingredient must also be included on the label.
(4) The registration or permit number of the CFO which produced the cottage food product
and the name of the county of the local enforcement agency that issued the permit
number.
(5) The ingredients of the cottage food product, in descending order of predominance by
weight, if the product contains two or more ingredients.
(6) The net quantity (count, weight, or volume) of the food product, stated in both English
(pound) units and metric units (grams).
(7) A declaration on the label in plain language if the food contains any of the major food
allergens such as milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, wheat, peanuts, and soybeans. There
are two approved methods prescribed by federal law for declaring the food sources of
allergens in packaged foods:
a) in a separate summary statement immediately following or adjacent to the ingredient
list, or
b) within the ingredient list.

See an example of a cottage food label below (principal display panel):

California Cottage Food Laws

(8) The use of the following eleven terms are considered nutrient content claims (nutritional
value of a food): free, low, reduced, fewer, high, less, more, lean, extra lean, good source,
and light. The Federal Food and Drug Administration has set conditions for the use of
these terms. (For details, please refer to 21 CFR Sections 101.13 and 101.54 et seq.)
For example: the term “sodium free” means that the food contains less than 5
milligrams of sodium per serving of the food.

(9) A health claim is a statement or message on the label that describes the relationship
between a food component and a disease or health-related condition (e.g., sodium and
hypertension, calcium and osteoporosis). Health claims, if used, must conform to the
requirements established in 21 CFR 101.14 and 101.70 et seq.


(10) Nutrition Facts panels will generally not be required for CFOs. If the food label makes any
nutrient content or health claims then a Nutrition Facts Panel is required to be
incorporated into the label. Nutrition information must be declared in a “Nutrition Facts”
statement as indicated in the example below. The categories that are required to be on
the Nutrition Facts panel include: Calories, total fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol,
sodium, total carbohydrate, dietary fiber, sugar, protein, vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium and
iron. The amount of trans fat must be declared on the nutrition facts panel unless the total
fat in the food is less than 0.5 gram (or ½ gram) per serving and no claims are made about
fat, fatty acid, or cholesterol content. If it is not listed, a footnote must be added stating
the food is “Not a significant source of trans fat.”

(11) Labels must be legible and in English (accurately translated information in another
language is optional).

(12) Labels, wrappers, inks, adhesives, paper, and packaging materials that come into contact
with the cottage food product by touching the product or penetrating the packaging must
be food-grade (safe for food contact) and not contaminate the food.

(13) Whenever a cottage food product is served without packaging or labeling in a permitted
retail food facility or is used as an ingredient in a preparation of a food in a retail food
facility including restaurants, bakeries, or delis, the retail customer must be notified that
the food product or the ingredient in the food was processed in a CFO home kitchen.

Below is an example of what the state of Arizona requires on their labels.

Using VistaPrint.com or similar – you can quickly create professional labels that not only serve to meet the state cottage food guidelines but also serve for marketing your awesome business and products.

You’ll find some fantastic examples of this from members inside VendorsUnited.com

Arizona Cottage Food Laws Labeling Rules

ALLERGENS ON LABELING

The FDA lists eight (8) major food allergens. Listing any of these on your label is a smart business practice and will certainly help your customers choose a product.

  • Milk.
  • Eggs.
  • Fish (e.g., bass, flounder, cod)
  • Crustacean shellfish (e.g., crab, lobster, shrimp)
  • Tree nuts (e.g., almonds, walnuts, pecans)
  • Peanuts.
  • Wheat.
  • Soybeans

Simply add to your label: “NOTICE: SOYBEANS USED IN THIS RECIPE” Some go as far to announce that a certain allergen is used in the same kitchen.

Some states require you list any potential allergens and potential for any cross contamination even if the allergen is not used in the recipe.

CALIFORNIA LIMIT ON GROSS SALES

California Cottage Food Laws limit annual sales to any CFO (Cottage Food Operation) to $50,000.00 annually.

Some CFO’s have registered under another family member’s name once reaching this limit so they can save more before opening a commercial retail operation.

cOTTAGE FOOD TIPS AND BEST PRACTICES

SAFE PRACTICES

Much of this may seem like common sense, but even if you already know, it’s a good idea to remind yourself with a list of things that can prevent you from missing something small.

And if for no other reason… CYA! CYA = Cover Your A#%

CLEAN WORK AREA / WORK SPACE / SANITIZATION

Providing safe to eat foods from your kitchen – starts in your kitchen.

Keep your area clean and sanitized to avoid cross contamination and to insure you provide your customers and clients with the safest and best foods they can get.

The following are some “common” sense things you can do to insure the best environment for preparing foods to sell:

  • ​Keep all equipment and surface areas clean and sanitized
  • Make sure window and door screens are bug proof with no gaps
  • Keep ingredients separate to prevent cross contamination / e.g. raw eggs near flour
  • No pets in work area and preferably none in the home
  • Allow no-one with a cold, sniffles or sick in kitchen while preparing foods
  • Wipe down walls and clean floors daily
  • Use good lighting to avoid missing unclean areas
  • Keep window and door screens in good repair to keep insects out
  • Wash hands frequently while working and use food grade gloves for extra safety
  • Keep areas of food storage and equipment storage clean and sanitized

RECORD KEEPING

Why keep these types of records?
Let’s say the inspector calls you and says they got a report that your banana bread, someone purchased, made them sick.

You’ll be able to show that you didn’t even make banana bread that week and that the person who reported you, bought that 4 weeks ago and you weren’t even the one that sold it to him.

This does not need to be complicated. I love my yellow legal pads and they make an inexpensive tool for keeping up with the following:

  • The recipes you use including ingredients
  • The process you use to prepare that specific recipe: (can be just like recipe instructions)
  • Date made (can be coded for your own use only if your state doesn’t require the production date) e.g. Made 12.22.29 = 292212
  • Date sold (you can have a batch code to help track a certain batch) Simply write down date you sold an item
  • Location sold is another great piece of information to keep track of
  • Sales receipts are something great to keep for a couple of reasons and over at KitchenIncome.com I dive into the best practices, best systems and best methods for tracking, managing, selling and shipping.

COTTAGE FOOD lIABILITY INSURANCE

We live in a society that likes to sue. I can sue you for wearing that color shirt. No kidding!

Of course I probably won’t win, but at the very least, it’s gonna cause you stress and some costs.

Liability insurance is a MUST.

It can be expensive – but several years ago, I found FLIP and by far, they gave me the most protection (coverage) and allow you to run your cottage food business without fear of being sued.

WHY? Because they provide the lawyers. And their lawyers… they are good!

Of course you should price shop around with your local agent or a national brand company, but rest assured, I’ve done all the legwork for you.

Alternatively, some folks opt to get bonded. You’ve heard the saying before: “licensed and bonded”. A bond is usually provided from an insurance bonding company or your own insurance company.

My first time, I got a bond at State Farm.

A bond is expensive comparatively but is less out of pocket in the beginning. Of course, it’s way, way less insurance / coverage too.

A $10,000 bond may cost $50 annually while a $2,000,000.00 liability policy may cost a few hundred a year.

No matter what you decide… knowing you’re insured against frivolous lawsuits is worth every penny.

CALIFORNIA COTTAGE FOOD RESOURCES

CONTACT CALIFORNIA’S COTTAGE FOOD INDUSTRY FOR MORE HELP

California Department of Public Health
Food and Drug Branch
1500 Capitol Ave, MS 7602
Sacramento, CA 95814
(800) 495-3232
[email protected]
[email protected]

UPDATES TO CALIFORNIA’S COTTAGE FOOD LAWS

From time to time, links, info, rules and numbers change, are updated or made obsolete.

Although I spend time daily with hundreds of vendors (many of which are cottage food businesses) – I can miss an update.

If you find a broken link, outdated information or any other issue… please let me know and I’ll send you a special gift for helping me maintain the best site on the internet for the cottage food industry.

My goal has always been to have a central place that is absolutely free those starting out or existing entrepreneurs who use their homes and kitchens to make real incomes.

Please send to [email protected] / or post inside the private VendorsUnited.com group.

Need more resources? Check it out HERE (Helpful Resources)

Take a peek at the best vendors on the planet, the community that rocks the food vending world: Vendors United

Vendors United - Cottage Food Laws

Disclaimer

This information is provided to help those interested in starting a cottage food business. It is not a document made by the state government. This information is not provided as law nor should be construed as law. Always use the contact information for each state to confirm compliance and any changes.

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