CA Homemade Food Act


All around the country, home picklers, jammers, and bakers have been looking for ways to transform hobby food production into small artisan businesses. In many states, however, selling food you’ve made in your home is against the law. In California, for instance, it’s currently a misdemeanor for home artisans to sell their goodies in the open marketplace. Last June, Department of Public Health officials in San Francisco shut down ForageSF’s popular Underground Market, which featured mostly home producers, because its sellers were not compliant with local and state regulations. Cottage food law advocates argue that loosening the regulations for small, home-based businesses fosters growth in the local economy, while giving startups the opportunity to test their products, establish a customer base, and incubate their business before investing in commercial kitchen space. Very often laws and regulations are written to keep large corporations in check, and they’re not scale-appropriate for small, community-based businesses.

Under the California Homemade Food Act, cottage food operations would be allowed to prepare and sell “non-potentially hazardous” items such as dry-storage baked goods, jams, preserves, nut mixes, dried fruit, roasted coffees, honey, pickles with a pH level of 4.6 or below, and other items with low risk for supporting toxic microorganisms. The California bill also states that home producers must register their business and follow the same sanitation, packaging, and labeling procedures that are expected of commercial kitchens, though it does not require inspections unless complaints are made. While such details may be revised in the legislative process, the SELC is working closely with the state public health department to ensure that health measures are followed while keeping the entrepreneur’s costs as low as possible.While the California bill language does not place a limit on the volume or income of a cottage food operation, the SELC believes that the logistical constraints of doing business out of a home kitchen will be the self-regulating factor.

via Grist