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Cottage Food Operations (CFO)
Welcome to Orange County Environmental Health’s page for Cottage Food Operations (CFO). We’ve dedicated a page to help you with the requirements and steps to take to become a Cottage Food Operator in Orange County.
Has your Cottage Food Operation changed since you received your permit? Changes include: address, products, business name, and permit class. Download, complete, and submit the REQUEST FOR CHANGE form via email, fax, or mail.
What is Cottage Food?
Cottage Food is a law (AB 1616) that was enacted on January 1, 2013 that allows certain foods to be made at home.
What foods can I make in my home?
You’re allowed to make non-potentially hazardous foods. What this means is the end product that you make has to be shelf stable and does not need refrigeration. Some examples of foods you can make include muffins, cookies, nuts, candies, roasted coffee, popcorn and certain cakes and pies. For an updated list of approved products, visit the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) page for Cottage Foods.
Don't see a food on the list of approved products that you would like to make? If the food that you would like to make is not a potentially hazardous food, you may submit an email to request that the food be added to the list of approved products at email@example.com. The request must include your contact information, the name of the product, as well as a brief description of the ingredients and processing method.
Sounds good! Now what do I need to do?
You need to apply with us and decide which classification of Cottage Food fits you. The new law allows for two different options:
Class A is for selling food directly from your home or to individuals such as customers at a community event. Class A requires the operator to register with the local health department. There is no inspection with a Class A registration.
Class B allows you to sell to retailers who will then resell the food in addition to the Class A option. For example, you sell food to a market or coffee shop who resells it to their customers. Class B requires the operator to obtain a permit from the local health department. There is a yearly inspection in order to obtain a Class B permit.
Please note that if you conduct point of service sales outside your home at a community event (farmer’s market or a festival/fair), you will need an additional permit that is not covered under the Cottage Food Law.
I’ve made my decision, I’m applying!
Your next step is to fill out an application for a Class A or Class B operation. Once you have filled out all the forms and submit them along with the fee, they will be reviewed to make sure it meets the requirements. You will be notified by email/phone of your status. You can obtain a packet at our office or by download. You will need to renew your registration or permit each year and also if you change the types of food, or relocate to a different home.
How much does Class A Registration or a Class B Permit cost?
The fee for registration or a permit will be based on the time needed to review and process the application and, if necessary, the time spent on inspections. The fee amount will be $25.75 per 15 minutes or a fraction thereof (effective through June 30, 2013). Under normal circumstances most reviews should take no more than 45 minutes for a Class A registration and no more than 2½ hours for the Class B permit, which includes the one inspection with related program activities.
Do I have to take any classes?
Yes, you and all others that are a part of your operation must take an approved food safety class within 90 days of obtaining your permit or registration. You can find a list of State-approved classes at www.cdph.ca.gov/programs/Pages/fdbCottageFood.aspx.
Are there any restrictions?
You can only make and store food in your kitchen and an attached storage room that is only used for your home operation. You may only hire up to one full-time employee. Annual gross sales may not exceed the following:
$35,000 during the 2013 calendar year
$45,000 during the 2014 calendar year
$50,000 per calendar year from 2015 and on
Am I subject to complaint investigations? Do I need to grant access into my home?
Environmental Health may investigate any complaint received concerning cottage food operations. If your cottage food operation is the subject of a complaint, you must allow a representative of Environmental Health in your cottage food operation to conduct an inspection.
Are there labeling requirements?
Yes, all Cottage food operations must meet specified requirements relating to labeling under Sherman Law and conform to specified federal labeling requirements regarding nutrition, nutrient content or health claims, and food allergens. Samples of labeling can be found in the Cottage Food Operation Packet.
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