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County of Sonoma California

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About Cottage Food Operations

On September 21, 2012, Governor Brown signed the California Homemade Food Act into law. This law amends the California Health and Safety Code to create a new category of food facility operation, which unlike other food facilities, can be operated out of a home kitchen, and will be implemented on January 1, 2013.

This new category, known as a Cottage Food Operation (CFO), will allow home kitchens to make and sell non-potentially hazardous foods. Non-potentially hazardous foods are foods that are unlikely to grow harmful bacteria or other toxic microorganisms at room temperature.

Cottage Foods

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has established a list of current approved foods that meet the definition as non-potentially hazardous. Additional foods may be added and removed through a 30-day process. The list of current approved foods includes the following:

  • Baked goods without cream, custard or meat fillings (bread, churros, cookies, pastries, tortillas, etc.)
  • Candy, including chocolate covered nuts and dried fruit
  • Dried fruit and pasta
  • Dry baking mixes, granolas, cereals, and trail mixes
  • Fruit pies, fruit empanadas, and fruit tamales
  • Honey, jams, jellies and fruit butters
  • Nut mixes, nut butters and popcorn
  • Vinegar and mustards
  • Roasted coffee and dried tea
  • Waffle cones and pizelles

Registration/Permitting

CFOs are required to obtain an annual registration or annual permit to operate through Sonoma County Environmental Health and Safety.

CFOs may sell directly and indirectly to the public, depending on their class of operation.

  • Class A CFOs may sell cottage foods directly from their homes, certified farmers' markets, bake sales, and community events. Class A operations will be required to complete a self-certification process and obtain an annual registration from Sonoma County Environmental Health and Safety.
  • Class B CFOs will be required to obtain an annual permit from Sonoma County Environmental Health and Safety and will be inspected annually. In addition to direct sales from home, they are also permitted to sell cottage foods indirectly from local shops, restaurants and other third party sales.

Additionally, a cottage food operator must complete a Food Processor Course administered by the CDPH within three months of obtaining a registration or permit.

Selling

Sonoma County is currently allowing only CFOs who are registered and/or permitted by Sonoma County Environmental Health and Safety to sell their cottage foods in Sonoma County.

CFOs may generate revenue of up to $35,000 in 2013, $45,000 in 2014, and increase up to $50,000 per year in 2015.

Planning/Zoning

While CFOs may operate out of a private dwelling, they may be required to meet zoning and planning criteria, which can include issues concerning parking, noise, traffic control, density as well as other standards. Contact your local city planning department or Sonoma County Permit and Resource Management at (707) 565-1900 for more information.

For additional information, please read Cottage Food Operations: Frequently Asked Questions (pdf) (English | Spanish).

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