New state law allows some business out of home kitchen
Do you make a delicious jam, toffee or mustard?
Thanks to a new law, that pomegranate jelly made in your noncommercial home kitchen could provide additional income.
The California Homemade Food Act, which went into effect Jan. 1, creates a new category of food production called a cottage food operation. A cottage food operation can be operated out of a home kitchen, instead of other categories of food production that require commercial food facilities.
The law provides a lot of opportunity for food producers.
"It brings a huge opportunity for small farms. If you're on a small farm you can't afford a commercial kitchen. It's a great opportunity to diversify," said Mary Fahey who manages and sells at the Arbuckle Farmers Market and at her Wise Acre farm stand.
Fahey is the first person in Colusa County to apply for the permit.
"We've had a few inquiries, but Mary is the first to apply," said Suzie Dawley, with Colusa County Environmental Health who oversees the new permits.
"I told Suzie I'd be her guinea pig," said Fahey.
The permitting system is so new that they are both learning through the experience.
Fahey learned that as a cottage food operation, all of the of the food production, packaging and storage has to take place in the home, which means she cannot store the packaged goods in her fruit stand, as planned. She also has to have her well water tested for approval.
Dawley does not yet know how much the permit will cost because they need to analyze how much staff time the certification program will take.
While the list of allowed foods is relatively short for this infant food production category, the California Department of Public Health is accepting recommendations for foods to be added. The types of food that are allowed are limited to "nonpotentially hazardous foods," which are unlikely to grow harmful bacteria at room temperature.
Fahey is interested in selling baked goods, breads, candied citrus peels and jams.
Additional items currently listed as allowed products for a cottage food operation include vinegar and mustard, popcorn, nut mixes, fruit butter, roasted coffee and dried tea, waffle cones, honey, herb blends, dried mole paste, granola and trail mixes, fruit pies and empanadas.
Among other requirements, the law requires the cottage food operation to be registered with the county, food producing employees must have a food handlers card, and the food product must be labeled. In addition, cottage food operations may not exceed a gross annual revenue of $35,000 in 2013.