Feb 16

New for San Diego CFOs in 2015

2015Hard to believe but we are starting the third year of growing small businesses, establishing entrepreneurs and being able to legally sell food made in our own home kitchens! Each year changes take place in the details of how to do that, so here are some things to know when starting or renewing in 2015:

Renewal Late Fees!!
Last year, if you were renewing your Cottage Food Operations permit and did not get it in before the end of the month your license expired, it still cost the same amount. I noticed on my renewal this year, that

San Diego Dept. of Environmental Health says that if you are not changing your menu or labels, you can either  renew by mail or online.

If renewing electronically, you can pay your permit fee at www.dehpay.com. To do so, select the DEH tab along the top, then–using the General Search or Record Search– enter your record [i.e., permit] number in the Record Number field.  Note: you can also choose Address Search and supply that information to find your records. In the Action column you should see, “Pay Fee Due”. Click on “Continue with Application” and choose a payment option.)*  You should then email fhdutyeh@sdcounty.ca.gov the following information along with your permit number:

  1. Name and locations of where your foods are sold,
  2. Proof of current food handler certification (which is good for three years so your initial certification is still valid. Just send a copy of it.)

If you want to add new products or flavors, the time to do it is at renewal! Up to five additional labels will be reviewed at no additional cost. Beyond that, label approval may be subject to additional fees.

Remember, if you changed address or owners you must apply for a new CFO license as they are not transferable.

popcorn ballsNew Foods Added
In 2014 a slew of additional foods were approved for Cottage Food Operators including, very significantly, certain buttercream frostings.  That clarification went a long way toward allowing many cake, cupcake, and cakepop makers to use some favorite recipes.  Of note, frostings still cannot use cream or half-and-half, but regular, low fat, or skim milk is fine (as well as non dairy milk such as almond or soy milk).

In 2015, three new items have already been approved. They are marshmallows that do not contain eggs, thin icing, and popcorn balls.  The current list of approved foods for California Cottage Foods Operators can be found HERE.

If you have an idea for a nonpotentially hazardous food item that you think should be included on the list, see our post on Amending the Approved Food list.

CFO profitsEarn More!

As of 2015 you are allowed to make up to $50,000 gross under your CFO license. Also, children 12 years old or older are allowed to work in your home-based business.   As always, you are allowed to have one employee in addition to your household members.

Labels, labels, labels
Seems there are always new updates about how to do labels! The biggest and best news from last year is that we can now have TWO labels — the primary label and a separate secondary label which states the ingredients and potential allergens.  In addition, San Diego County Environmental Health Department has changed some wording for the labels.  (You may have already made these adjustments if you began or renewed in the second half of 2014.)

1.  Labels for products made under A permits should read “Registration #” but labels for products under B permits should say, “Permit #.”

2. The format of your registration number is different. Originally the letters FRCON were in your permit number, but now the letters have been replaced by FCFO. The remainder of your permit number will be the same.[/important]

To see an example of how the labels should be done, see HERE.

2015 promises to be a great year as San Diego Cottage Food Operators continue to learn and grow as entrepreneurs.  This year we are looking forward to more meet ups to share information, ideas, challenges and encouragement, plus posts on how to photograph your products, market them, and grow your business.  Got any ideas for posts? Share them with us on our Facebook page or contact us!

*Cottage Foods Sandie has never used the online option as she has always had to go in to the office in person. If you have had experience (good or bad) with online renewal, please let us know!

Oct 30

SELLING FOR THE HOLIDAYS

Hoiday packagingIf you have not started planning your packaging and marketing strategies for November and December’s holidays, it’s not too late, but almost! Have you considered dressing up your packaging to make your products more appealing as gifts? What opportunities are there to attract new customers during this time? How can your promote early ordering? Use these tips to plan a joyful season of increased sales!

Packaging
Consider adding new packaging concepts and colors to inspire purchase of cottage food products as gifts. Many people will be looking for attractive, one-of-a-kind gifts to give or to take to family gatherings or office parties. Use a package design that makes it easy for customers to “grab-and-go.” Colorful boxes that can quickly be filled and wrapped with decorative ribbon, or pre-made baskets get people thinking about using your products as presents. Don’t forget to include your primary label on the top or front of the outside package, OR on each product contained inside.boxed goods

As Cottage Food Operators in California, we cannot mail or ship products to our customers, but we CAN package them in a way that makes it easy for others to send. Help Customer Cindy or Client Carlos send your goodies to family and friends by putting your product in easy-to-mail cartons. Or, plan your packaging so that it easily fits into one of the two medium sized US Postal Service Priority Mail boxes. The post office will deliver either the long, flat shape or more squarish shaped Flat Rate Priority Mail box anywhere in the US within two days for only $12.35–and irrespective of the weight! This is an especially good idea for last minute shoppers needing gifts for out-of-towners.

Display
imageCan you create an eye-catching display? With planning, you can use the same product(s) in a variety of display formats (individually, framed in a gift box, artfully arranged on a tray or tiered display) and photograph them. (The more professional looking the display and photography, the better!) Maybe you can build an attractive centerpiece from your products. Whatever type of holiday display you make, post pictures to your Facebook page, email them to previous customers, and create a Special Orders Book suggesting that people order ahead for their event or loved ones. Now is the time to get creative and make your pictures available!

Sales and Discounts
Most people get overwhelmed as holiday deadlines loom. Special events, social get-togethers, and parties start in mid-November and peak around the second week of December. New Year’s Eve celebrations present another great time for hosts or guests to share your products. Gift giving continues all the way through the end of December, with people willing to pay a premium for last minute answers. Be prepared!

Begin suggesting people order early and offer discounts to those who do. Start now promoting “special sales” of your easiest or most popular items.  Promote sales by including a free gift to those who buy a certain amount of products, or who order early. Maybe give existing customers free samples of products they have not yet tried.  Put together special combination gift packages.

Getting new customers
This is probably the best time of year to expand your customer network. By encouraging gift-giving, you are expanding your range of contacts. Consider these ideas, too, for expanded sales:

  • Take advantage of school fairs, festivals, church bazaars, craft fairs, etc. to get a table selling and promoting your products. Nonprofit organizations (schools, churches, etc.) are less restrictive and cheaper than farmer’s markets. Use the opportunity to get your business and products to new people. Encourage them to remember you for the holidays. Be prepared with business cards and order sheets!
  • Approach clubs, organizations, businesses for the chance to supply their meetings with a some of your treats. Most companies will have a Board of Director’s meeting toward the end of the year. Many businesses throw client (or employee) appreciation parties. Some independent agents (insurance, real estate, financial brokers, etc.) like to send a token gift to their better clients. Suggest they give or send a hand-crafted artisan food product such as yours.
  • Think of unusual places — other local small businesses, repair shops, banks — where the business owners might buy your treats to offer to impatient customers while they wait.
  • Remember last-minute gift givers. Make extra product, advertise to the end, and promote ways that you will personalize it for the recipient — special tags or cards which say “Made especially for [recipient’s name]” or “A special order created just for [recipient’s name]”

Now is the time to get your holiday and year-end specials in place if you have not done so already. For maximum effectiveness you should be anticipating upcoming holidays 3-6 months in advance, so you should also start now “cooking up” your marketing strategy for February’s Valentine’s Day gifts!

Heart box

 

 

 

 

 

 

Images displayed by CC license

 

 

 

 

 

Sep 04

Labeling News

 

T_FoodLabels_1Getting product labels approved for your San Diego Cottage Food Operation is one of the bigger challenges owners face to getting their applications approved or renewed. Modified label requirements can impact both the design of your labels, and whether or not they get approved. Learn what is new for labels before you waste a trip to the health department.

Wording Changes

San Diego county requires specific wording on the label to reflect proper approval, and it varies slightly depending on whether you have (or want) an A permit or B permit. For an A permit, it should say,

 

However, if it is for a B permit, the word permit is substituted for registration so that it would read

 

 

When submitting a new application as a first time CFO, leave 6 spaces (marked with x’s) to be filled in with the actual number when approved.

If you are not creating the product, but simply repackaging it from a larger bulk purchase, the label should read, “Repackaged in a Home Kitchen.”

Primary and Secondary Labels

Primary labels must still be on the top or front of the packaging. As of 2014, ingredient and allergen information can be on a separate, secondary label affixed to a different location. This gives many CFOs more flexibility in their label design–especially if they have a long list of ingredients. The secondary label can be placed on the side, bottom, or a separate area on the front of the packaging.

Listing Your Address

Some people are uncomfortable printing the details of their home address on their labels. Federal and CA laws require a food manufacturer to put their name and complete address on the label which means, to a CFO, your home address. But, there is a ‘work-around.’ The law also says that if your business name and full address are posted in a telephone directory (online or physical book), you may list just your city, state and zipcode on the label. (If you choose this, Cottage Foods Sandie suggests you provide proof of your phone directory listing when you submit your labels and application. This is a new development and not everyone may be aware of the change.)

Be sure, though, that you have your contact information on your labels (website, email, and/or phone number) so that customers can reach you. Don’t miss sales because people can’t place orders!

Nutrition Labeling

California Cottage Food Operators are still exempt from having to include a nutrition label specifying the nutrition content of their product. However, if you want to use any of the words “free, low, reduced, fewer, high, less, more, lean, extra lean, good source, and light” you would need a nutrition label. The good news is that the county will allow nutrition analysis either from a laboratory OR an online source. There are a number of free online nutritional analysis sites. Watch for a post on this subject coming soon.

Font Size

Only the words, “Made in a Home Kitchn” (or “Repackaged in a Home Kitchen”) must be in 12 point type. Otherwise, the smallest font used must still be 1/16 of an inch tall as measured by the lowercase “o”.

Submitting for Approval

San Diego Environmental Health Department prefers you submit samples of your labels on regular paper rather than the actual label. This allows them to make edits and suggest changes more easily. Labels should be submitted in person with the entire application for a new or renewed permit. Remember, you need a separate label for every product and every flavor or variation.

When starting, try to focus on the products and flavors that you have found to be most popular. Having too many labels can cost an additional $142 to review. However, having too few products means you might need to add more during the year. Mid-year review of new labels will cost another $142. Be wise in choosing your menu! Five or fewer labels can generally be reviewed while you wait. More than five may take up to 5 days. Depending on the complexity, 10-12 labels can usually be reviewed within the one hour time frame covered by the application fee.

So while most of the basic requirements remain the same (must list common product name, the words “Made in a Home Kitchen” must be in 12 point font, etc.) some wording changes are important to know before wasting a trip to the health department. Other changes may provide greater flexibility for your label design and packaging.

The greatest delay in approvals results from label modifications. Make sure your food is on the California Cottage Food Operations approved food list, that your ingredients are listed in order of greatest to least quantity by weight, and that your wording, font type, etc. are in order. For further information, see the example provided by the San Diego Environmental Health Department HERE.

 

 

 

 

 

Aug 24

Business Insurance for CFOs

insurance

Wondering if you should get business insurance for your California Cottage Food Operation (CFO)? Will your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance cover your home-based business? Do you need liability insurance for a farmer’s market or special event? CFOs are asking!

Do I need insurance?
The state of California does not require you to get liability insurance for your cottage food business. By their nature, cottage foods are some of the least risky foods and as far as we know, no lawsuits–or even health complaints!–have been brought against a legal CFO anywhere in the country. However, you are still at risk for injury to an employee or customer on your property and liable for medical bills if your food does make someone ill.

In general, your homeowner or rental insurance policy will not extend to a home-based business. If your company is a sole proprietorship (or partnership), you and your business are the same meaning that your assets are at risk if someone sues you. If you formed a limited liability corporation (LLC), it limits your personal liability, but you will incur an $800/year franchise tax fee in California. Most CFOs are sole proprietorships.

If you are concerned about your assets, totally risk-averse, or if you often have people coming over to your home to pick up their product, you may want to consider liability insurance. As your business grows, your risk increases so determining when to get insurance is a personal decision.

Where do I get business liability insurance?
Some homeowner insurance companies also offer general liability insurance for your business. Rates vary, but are generally $500-$800 per year. Contact your own agent for a quote and be sure they offer liability protection for your premises and for your finished product. Check to make sure you can get “additional insured” certificates if you need to include others for a market or festival.

Recently a new program called FLIP (Food Liability Insurance Program) has emerged specifically to provide annual liability insurance for food providers, including CFOs. (Click HERE for linkBecause all insurance companies base their rates on risk and cottage food products are low risk, lower rates can be offered to this target community. If you need to extend coverage to a third-party—a farmer’s market, for instance—it is easy to add them as additional insureds. The standard policy is $290/year.

Just need insurance for a special event?
If you want to participate in a festival or special event, you may be required to show proof of insurance, AND to have the event and organizers listed as “additional insureds” meaning that they also are protected if your food causes harm. If you do not have an annual policy you can get temporary insurance at www.FastCov.com (click HERE). Sponsored by American Specialty Insurance and Risk Services, A/A+ rated insurers provide coverage for Vendors and Concessionaires at an event lasting 30 days or less at one location. Coverage begins the day after the application (or later if you specify) and lasts the duration of the event. Everything is easily done online and confirmation is instant. No phone assistance is available, but you can email questions not addressed in the FAQs. Cottage Food Sandie’s one million dollar ($1M) general liability policy for a local festival cost $89. Adding the festival sponsors was easy and proof was instantly available. For more than 3 events over 12 months, the FLIP insurance would be a better bargain, but for test marketing your product at a few festivals, the Fastcov insurance might be a more affordable option.

Whether you need liability insurance to participate in a market or festival or want the peace of mind that your assets are protected, multiple options are available. If you have more information, ideas, or suggestions, please comment!

Feb 22

Lessons Learned at Permit Renewal

renewalIt has been just over a year since the implementation of AB1616 which spawned a California Cottage Food industry. Now, entrepreneurial foodies can start a business making certain foods at home for sale to the public. Last year was a year of growth and learning for everyone.  Some updates and refinements have been made. What’s new for 2014?

Here’s a summary of what we we’ve seen changed as of our renewal date…

Website Information:  The San Diego County Health Department now has a page on their website specifically devoted to Cottage Food Operations (CFOs).  You will find links to the most current regulations and applications on our RESOURCES page or posted here.

Applications must be submitted in person at the Kearny Mesa office of the San Diego Dept. Environmental Health by the person(s) applying for the permit.  Application forms have been updated during the year.  Links are available on our RESOURCES page or posted here

  • Generally, the application packet and labels can be reviewed over the counter when you come in, but if there are more than ten labels, the application may be taken and labels reviewed within 5 working days.  Meaning you will have to make a second trip.
  • Debit and credit cards are now accepted for CFO application fees.

Labels:

  • The San Diego Health Department no longer previews labels which are faxed or emailed in.  They have provided a sample with instructions here.
  • Sample labels for all items and flavors must be submitted with the complete application.   They prefer that the labels be printed on paper for review, rather than actual labels.  The design and information should be essentially 100% finished, though subsequent changes to logo or graphics is permitted.
  • Ingredients can now be listed on a secondary label so you don’t have to jam everything on the primary label!
  • Calling your product “Organic” in its title or product description is not allowed unless you have it certified as such.  However,  if it has at least 70% organic ingredients, you can say, “Made with Organic Ingredients.”  In any case, you can list individual ingredients where appropriate (i.e. organic oats, or organic peanuts, etc.)
  • The words “Made in a Home Kitchen” must appear alone in 12 point type (i.e, not Made in a Home Kitchen with Love, etc.)
  • In addition to the Permit Number, these words must appear:  Cottage Food Registration/Permit Issued by: County of San Diego DEH-FHD

Permits:

  • Permits are good until the end of the month one year from the date they were issued.  At present, there does not seem to be a penalty for late renewals, but you should not do sales if your permit is not renewed beyond the expiration date.
  • If you get a Permit A ($142) and decide a few months later that you want a Permit B so others can sell your items, you will have to apply for Permit B and pay the full $284.  The Permit B will be good for one full year from date of issue, but you will not get credit for any remaining time or money from Permit A.
  • Before applying, carefully consider your budget and sales strategy, and whether or not you really want or need the B permit.

Inspections:

Class B inspections are being scheduled within 5 business days of the application being approved.  Unlike earlier, the CFO may not begin operation until this inspection is complete.

Approved Foods

California’s state health department recently developed a procedure for citizens to request that specific foods be added to the Approved CFO Food List.  You can find information on the steps and deadlines in our post, “Amending the Approved Food List.”

Frostings

There are still some questions about what frostings will be approved.  Presently in San Diego, most butter cream or cream cheese frostings are not accepted.  Nearly all commercially processed frostings are acceptable.  For more information, contact the San Diego Department of Environmental Health Food and Housing Duty Specialist at (858) 505-6900 or e-mail: fhdutyeh@sdcounty.ca.gov

OVERALL, it has been a good first year, with over 1200 permits issued statewide as of mid February 2014.  And kudos to you cooks, bakers, candy makers, et al. – Last year there were no reported cases of food poisoning across California from these types of businesses.

Let’s make 2014 a banner year for CFO’s in San Diego County!

 

Nov 18

Amending the Approved Food List

cdphsmallSo your food is not on the CA Approved Cottage Food List . . . now what? The Homemade Food Act, AB1616, authorizes the state Department of Public Health to add or remove foods and they have just released instructions on how you can request that they consider adding your food product.

As one of the most recent laws in the country to allow the making and selling of food from home, AB1616 is (in my mind) one of  the most comprehensive and well designed cottage food laws of any state.  It permits a wide variety of edibles—from honey to jams, pastries to popcorn, roasted coffee to dried tea, even specifically including ethnic foods like mole paste, churros, and fruit empanadas.

But what if the food you make is non potentially hazardous and NOT on the list? One aspiring Cottage Food Operator (CFO) in San Diego wanted to make dried vegetable soup mix.  Although dried fruit is an approved product, dried vegetables are not, and therefore not permitted.  Now, however, there is a way to have that, and other foods, considered for addition to the Approved Food List.

Complete and submit the “Request to Add Food Product to the Approved Food List” application to the CA Department of Public Health by mail or email.   A review and response is promised for every request.  Recipes and formulations are not necessary (in fact, not wanted) but you should provide a brief description of the food, how it is made, and how it will be packaged.  Use a separate application for each food product.

A notice of proposed changes to the Approved Food List will be posted on the state website in December and June of each year, allowing the public to comment on changes for twenty (20) days.  The following month, notices will be posted indicating whether the proposed amendments were accepted or withdrawn.

Dried spices

Dried spices

Because of the late notification, this year submission deadlines are extended to January 31, 2014 to be posted by March 2, 2014 and take effect April 1, 2014.  Subsequently, the June/December deadlines will be followed.

Do you have a non potentially hazardous food product that you think should be included on the state’s Approved Food List? Get the application in now and find out if you, too, can become one of California’s new Cottage Food Operators!

 

Sep 16

Ethnic Variety in CA’s Cottage Food Law

Flag_of_Mexico_svgAspiring business owners of all cultures and all cuisines can participate as Cottage Food Operators by making their own traditional varieties within approved food groups. California’s Cottage Food law honors the Mexican cultural influence in particular by specifically permitting certain Latino foods or variations.

Among the baked goods that the CA Homemade Food Act explicitly approved are tortillas and churros.  Tortillas, made from flour or corn, are part of the staples of Mexican cuisine.  They date back to 10,000 BC but were popularized throughout California by the missionaries.  The versatility of tortillas for soft burritos, tacos, enchiladas, etc. mean they are often favored over bread.  In addition, their low fat content make tortillas a healthier choice for many calorie-conscious consumers.

And who doesn’t love churros?  Those mouth-watering cinnamon treats, when baked not fried, qualify for churros.wikimediacommonsa homemade cottage food product!  Plus you can always find a jar of chocolate sauce or dulce de leche for guilt-free dipping with all the calories that are saved by baking them to crispy brown goodness.

Fruit tamales and fruit empanadas can also be made and sold through Cottage Food Operations.  These sturdy foods are easily packed and sold at community events without too much trouble (being somewhat  gentle with the empanadas!).  And while pineapple tamales and apple empanadas may be the best known, recipes for other tempting flavors also exist, like strawberry tamales or empanadas made with banana, blackberry and strawberry, pineapple, even guava or pumpkin (who knew pumpkin was a fruit?!).  (Note: some recipes may need to be adapted to be classified as non potentially hazardous.)

Even mole paste (pronounced moh-lay) is listed as a product approved for CFOs in California.  What a great idea!  Mole poblana may be the best known of all mole varieties (in fact, it’s been called the “national dish” of Mexico), with its characteristic chili peppers and chocolate, but other varieties of mole exist, too.  Oaxaca, Mexico is often called “the land of the seven moles.”  Roasted, dried chilies and ingredients ground to powder and reconstituted into pastes can create mole colors ranging from smoked-oaxacan-mole-saucebrownish-red to bright green, red, yellow or black each with a distinctive taste.  What a great opportunity to develop a home-based business and introduce more Californians to new mole flavors and recipes to try.

According to 2011 US Census Bureau estimates, 38% of The Golden State’s total population is Hispanic/Latinos.  And, with California having the highest total number of Latinos of any U.S. state, we at San Diego Cottage Foods are glad to see the legislature thought to definitively include Mexican heritage foods in the Homemade Food Bill.  We hope that it encourages more Latinos, and Latino food lovers, to start their own Cottage Food Operations!

Aug 28

State vs. Local Laws – Which Prevail?

residential traffic singAccording to California’s Homemade Food Bill (also known as CA’s Cottage Food law, AB1616), local governments cannot outlaw or prohibit Cottage Food Operations (CFOs) through zoning laws.  Municipalities can, however, regulate “…spacing and concentration, traffic control, parking, and noise control relating to those homes.”  The law was written, in part, to encourage the startup of small businesses by people making nonpotentially hazardous foods.  It specifically included provisions which would help in that goal such as classifying a CFO as a permitted use of residential property, allowing one employee (in addition to a family or household member), and allowing direct sales (as well as indirect sales) of the food product to consumers.

Danielle, an aspiring Cottage Food business owner, did some investigating and found that nearly every city in San Diego County had one or more restrictions in their business licenses or home occupation permits that conflicted with the state law.  (Individual city ordinances relevant to CFO’s are summarized in Home Business Local Laws.)  Most cities require a home occupation permit for home-based businesses and this is often where the conflicts are found.  Imperial Beach was the only city deemed to be in agreement with AB1616 whereas cities such as Vista have multiple restrictions that seemingly contradict the state law.

residential sign2

The most common discrepancies forbid having an employee and restrict selling your goods from home.  Understandably, local governments want to keep residential areas from becoming snarled with commercial traffic and noise that would negatively impact areas where we live.  But those laws seem in direct opposition to the Homemade Food Law and its intent.

Some regulations even seem a bit extreme.   One in Vista limits how much your business operation can increase your utility services.  Escondido dictates that “Any vehicle bearing any advertisement related to the home occupation… shall be garaged or stored entirely within a building or structure.”  El Cajon has a bizarre regulation that any “… equipment necessary to perform the home occupation on the premises must be kept in a pickup truck or van… or a trailer that can be towed by a truck or van.”   Good sense would have to prevail here since you are obviously not going to keep your oven in a truck!  Some cities even require you to get your landlord’s permission if you rent in order to obtain a business license.

wait in line mateIt seems for now that most start-up CFOs can function within the local city guidelines.   Initially, young businesses may not have enough customers to attract complaints, or enough demand to need an employee.  But ultimately if they are successful, the question becomes, will the state law preempt the local restrictions?  And, how can we as new business owners help city planners accommodate home-based Cottage Food Operations?

Are you having trouble getting a business license for your Cottage Food Operation?  If so, please let us know.  We may be able to find a recipe for success, yet!

(Much thanks to Danielle for her time researching and compiling this information!)

 

Photos Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Aug 18

Success!

bridgets fudgeSUCCESS has already come to some who started operating their own businesses as Cottage Food Operations in San Diego County.  Bridget Doyle knew people loved her white chocolate fudge—they told her all the time at the hospital where she volunteered.  She got a reputation as the “Fudge Lady.” But when they offered to buy it, she began doing some research and discovered the California Cottage Food law. That made everything possible because otherwise, it was just too expensive to rent a kitchen and produce it commercially!

When people start asking to pay for your food, it’s a good time to consider a business!  Her first challenge was learning about California’s Cottage Food (or Homemade Food) Law, AB1616 which took effect Jan. 1, 2013. The next challenge was working out the labels and getting all the correct information on them.  But once approved, she faced the question every budding entrepreneur faces – how and where to get customers?  Bridget turned to social media and using a Facebook page for her business, asked people where they had bought fudge in retail settings.  major marketShe got a lead to Major Market grocery store in Escondido.  Bridget called and learned that they had lost their fudge vendor three years earlier.  Hopeful, she got busy in the kitchen making a batch of fudge, packed it up, and went to market.

Bridget met with the store manager, offered samples of her fudge and simply said, “I am starting up a fudge company.  Would you be interested in selling my fudge at your store?” And so began her official foray into business.  Major Markets in Escondido and Fallbrook now carry four flavors of Bridget Rose Delights’ fudge: Fudge at Major Marketwhite chocolate, peanut butter, milk chocolate, and milk chocolate with walnuts.  And she’s recently expanded to Rockin’ Jenny’s Italian Sub shop for those who also want a sweet treat with their sandwich.  Just shows that you need to explore options, and think creatively, when looking for additional markets.  Bridget’s advice on getting into a store or market?  “Make sure you make the right contacts and give samples of your product.”

To learn more about the “Fudge Lady,” visit Bridget’s blog or Facebook page – and keep an eye out for her fudge at a market, shop, or retail outlet near you!

If you have had some success pioneering your CFO business in San Diego County, let us know! We’d love to hear about it and possibly feature you and your creations, too.

Jun 25

Avoid Getting Frosted Over Frosting

pink cupcake

You make the most awesome cakes and cupcakes ever! Now, you want to sell them. You want to get a cottage food  permit, but what about the frosting?  Did you know that most buttercream and cream cheese frostings will not be approved as they are not proven to be shelf stable?  What to do. . .

NOTE:  Also see updated information at end of post.

All foods made and sold under the Cottage Food Law AB1616 must be non-potentially hazardous meaning that they can be held at room temperature without growing harmful bacteria.  According to the FDA, this means foods that have an acidity (pH) level of 4.6 or less or a water activity (Aw) value of 0.85 or less.

If your recipe does not contain perishable ingredients, it may be allowed.  Many people claim that most American-style buttercreams made with butter or shortening and powdered sugar do not require refrigeration.  However, if you use butter, margarine, oil, cream cheese, etc. the San Diego Environmental Health Department may reject your recipe–or even your permit application–without proof that is non-potentially hazardous.

How can you be sure your frostings are safe and likely to be approved?

    1. Use a store-bought, commercially prepared frosting which has already been made shelf-stable.
    2. Use fondant only.
    3. Check out the updated California list of approved frostings and icings listed below.
    4. Have a sample of your frosting tested yourself.  In San Diego, several food testing laboratories can test your frosting for pH and water activity.  Tests run approximately $35-$45.

TexasCottageFoodLaw.com has recipes for several frostings.  The recipes were tested and shown to be non-potentially hazardous, but you MUST follow the directions exactly with no substitutions and would need to have whichever recipe(s) you want to use tested yourself.  Send the independent laboratory results into the San Diego Environmental Health department with your sample label or permit application.

Remember, all your ingredients must be included on the primary label of your product and the labels must be pre-approved by the Health department. If your frostings include any of the “suspect” ingredients, you will probably be required to get pre-approval from the state or have it tested to demonstrate that the frosting is non-potentially hazardous.

Use these tips to avoid getting “frosted” over your label, application, and recipes!

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