Cottage Food Operations

Low-risk food products are legally allowed to be prepared, packaged, and repackaged in private home kitchens after registering or obtaining a permit from EH. The registration or permit is good for the calendar year and the operator must reapply each year. 

Only low-risk food products that are non-potentially hazardous are allowed for a CFO. These types of products do not require refrigeration and are considered safe from rapid bacterial growth that can cause sickness. The California Department of Public Health maintains a complete list of approved Cottage Food Operation foods, a description of the labeling requirements, how to petition for additional food items to be added to the approved list, and information about how to obtain the required Cottage Food Operator Training.

CFO Types

Class A

CFOs may engage in a direct sale of cottage food products. A direct sale is a transaction between the CFO operator and the consumer. Direct sales may take place at bake sales, certified farmers’ markets, and even temporary events. While this is considered a direct sale, a separate permit may be required for vending in locations other than from your home. This class type will not require initial or routine inspections from EH unless prompted by a complaint report.

Class B

CFOs may engage in direct and indirect sales of cottage food products. An indirect sale is where a consumer purchases a cottage food product made by a cottage food operator at a third-party retailer. The food is prepared, packed, or repackaged at the CFO and sold to a market or restaurant that then sells to the public. A third-party retail food facility is a business that holds a valid health permit including markets, restaurants, bakeries, and delis that are not controlled by the CFO. EH conducts a routine inspection for Class B operations. 

Cottage Food Operations on a Well

Cottage Food Operations that use water from a private well need to have the water tested by a State Certified Laboratory on a regular basis.