California Cottage Food Operations Update

There is a California Cottage Food Law. In the United States, there are 49 states that have some form of cottage food regulation. These regulations come in the form of laws and rules. They are regulated by the State Department of Agriculture, the State or County Health Department or some other state/county or city department.

The California Cottage Food Law: Where can food be produced?

The State of California Cottage Food Law, allows individuals to prepare and/or package certain non-potentially hazardous foods in private-home kitchens referred to as “cottage food operations” (CFOs). A cottage food production operation is not a food service establishment.

This is a primary residence that contains a kitchen and appliances designed for common residential use. A retail food establishment license is not required.

All California Cottage Food Operators who prepare or package cottage foods must complete a food processor course within three months of becoming registered or permitted and every three years during operation. The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has identified training that you may take that will satisfy the training requirement.

NOTE: California Cottage Food Law by County

California Cottage Food requirements are regulated by individual counties. Locate your county and find your cottage food rules and regulations.

Register for the California Food Handler Training : (Additional states may take this training)

  • Arizona
  • Florida
  • Illinois
  • Texas

What can be produced?

Cottage food operations are allowed to produce certain non-potentially hazardous foods. These are foods that do not support the rapid growth of bacteria that would make people sick when held outside of refrigeration temperatures.

What are some examples of foods that can be produced?

  • According to the California Cottage Food law here are a list of some of the products that can be produced
  • Baked goods, without cream, custard, or meat fillings, such as bread, biscuits,
    churros, cookies, pastries, and tortillas
  • Candy, such as brittle and toffee
  • Chocolate-covered nonperishable foods, such as nuts and dried fruits
  • 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
  • Popcorn
  • Vinegar and mustard
  • Waffle cones and pizelles
  • Cotton candy
  • Candied apples
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For the entire list review the Approved Cottage Food List. If you would like to add a food product to the California Cottage Food list complete this form.

The California Cottage Food Law Sales Limit

The State of California Sales limit is $50,000.00 (effective 2015)

Is a home inspection required in the State of California?

A home inspection is required to be a California cottage food operator. Review the requirements.

How are cottage foods sold to the consumer?

How California cottage foods are sold is dependent on the type of permit you applied for.

  • Class A – Direct to consumer only.
  • Class B – Direct to consumer and/or wholesale.

One of the most challenging tasks for cottage food operators is locating customers.  Your goal is to find consumers willing and able to pay the price your asking. You are in business to make money, not appease your ego. You are not in business to give discounts either.

Competing with Walmart or Big Box stores and local competitors is impossible. Your products are unique, one of a kind. Success begins with understanding why your product is unique and who is most likely to buy it.

Labeling Cottage Food Products

The common or descriptive name of the CFO food product located on the primary (principal) display panel.

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.

The words “Made in a Home Kitchen” or “ 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-to-eat products not used as an ingredient must also be included on the label.

  • 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.
  • The ingredients of the cottage food product, in descending order of predominance by
    weight, if the product contains two or more ingredients.
  • The common or descriptive name of the CFO food product located on the primary
    (principal) display panel.
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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: in a separate summary statement immediately following or adjacent to the ingredient list, or within the ingredient list.

There are two approved methods prescribed by federal law for declaring the food sources of allergens in packaged foods: in a separate summary statement immediately following or adjacent to the ingredient list, or within the ingredient list.

How should I label my cottage food products?

Foods sold by a cottage food production operation must be packaged and labeled. The food must be packaged in a manner that prevents product contamination, except for foods that are too large or bulky for conventional packaging. The labeling information for foods that are not packaged must be provided to the consumer on an invoice or receipt.

California Cottage Food Labeling Requirements

Successful Cottage Food Operators

Successful California Cottage Food Operators know there are a variety of tasks and strategies that help cottage food sales. Success is dependent on producing an in-demand food product. Taking time to research the marketplace to see what is missing. Plus, making a remarkable, unique must-have product.

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