Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions about the California Homemade Food Act

Important:  This is only a summary of frequently asked questions and answers regarding the California Homemade Food Act which was enacted in September 2012.  It should not be considered legal advice.  Please consult an attorney if you have specific questions related to your business.  Also, this information is specifically intended for San Diego County.  Details and requirements may vary slightly in other California counties.

To download a copy of the full text of the bill AB1616 , click here.

When does the law go into effect?
The law went into effect on January 1, 2013. The San Diego County Environmental Health department and California Department of Public health are continuing to work on procedures to implement and enforce the law.  Sign up for our newsletter to stay on top of breaking news and specific details as they are released.

What kinds of food can I make and sell from my home as a Cottage Food Operator? 

Currently the following foods have been approved.  Additional foods may be added by the County over time.  At present, you can make and sell

  • Baked goods without cream, custard, or meat fillings, such as breads, biscuits, churros, cookies, pastries, and tortillas
  • Candy, such as brittle and toffee
  • Chocolate-covered nonperishable foods, such as nuts and dried fruit
  • Dried fruit
  • Dried pasta
  • Dry baking mixes
  • Fruit pies, fruit empanadas, and fruit tamales
  • Granola, cereals, and trail mixes
  • Herb blends and dried mole paste
  • Honey and sweet sorghum syrup
  • Jams, jellies, preserves, and fruit butter that comply with the standard described in Part 150 of Title 21 of the Code of Federal Regulations
  • Nut mixes and nut butters
  • Popcorn
  • Vinegar and mustard
  • Roasted coffee and dried tea
  • Waffle cones and pizelles.
  • Cotton candy
  • Candied apples
  • Confections such as salted caramel, fudge, marshmallow bars, chocolate covered marshmallow, nuts, and hard candy, or any combination thereof
  • Buttercream frosting, buttercream icing, buttercream fondant, and gum paste that o not contain eggs, cream, or cream cheese
  • Dried or Dehydrated vegetables
  • Dried vegetarian-based soup mixes
  • Vegetable and potato chips
  • Ground chocolate
  • Seasoning salt


What are jams, jellies, preserves, and fruit butter that comply with the standard described in Part 150 of Title 21 of the Code of Federal Regulations?

You can read the definitions of all these terms at this link.

What is a non-potentially hazardous food?

Non-potentially hazardous foods are foods which are unlikely to grow dangerous microorganisms when held at room temperature.  Generally, they have a low water content (such as baked goods, candies, popcorn, etc.) or  have a high acid or sugar level which inhibits bacterial and other growth (vinegars, honeys, mustards, etc.)  Perishable foods (those that require refrigeration) require different permits from the San Diego Environmental Health department.

Do I have to get a permit from the Health Department?

Yes! There will be two types of permits available.  Class A permits will allow you to sell your foods directly to consumers.  Class B permits will allow you to also sell your products through others, such as stores or restaurants.  Under the present law, you will only be able to sell wholesale (meaning others will retail them for you) within San Diego County, unless San Diego specifically approves cottage food sales across county lines in the future.

How much do permits cost?

Fees vary by county.  Class A permits in San Diego County are $142 per year.  Class B permits are $284 per year in San Diego County.

What are the requirements for a Class A or Class B permit?

Class  A permit holders will need to fill out a county registration form and a “self-certification” form agreeing to certain health safety procedures during food preparation.  Class A permit holders will not need to have their kitchens inspected.  Class B permit holders need to complete the registration form AND a county health permit form.  (See our post on getting through the permit process.)  Class B permit holders will be subject to an initial inspection and annual routine kitchen inspections.  All Cottage Food preparers and packagers will need to pass a food processor’s course within 3 months of getting registered.  Currently, California recognizes several ASNI certified online courses for training.  See list here.  For our comparison of online options check Comparison of Online Trainings.  San Diego also offers classroom options for those who cannot take classes online.  For those classes, see page two on the listings here.

Do I need a food handler’s card if I already have one?

It depends.  If your card is through one of the 3 hr. classroom sessions approved on this formyou probably do not.  If it was taught by the manager of a food institution where you volunteered or worked, that card is only good for that location and you would need to take either an approved online or classroom course. See our post titled Best Value, Least Risk CFO training.

How many employees I can have?

Besides yourself as the cottage food Operator, you may have a family or household member and not more than one (1) full-time employee (who is paid or volunteers).

Is there a limit on how much I can make?

Yes.  The operation cannot make more than $35,000 in gross annual sales in 2013 or more than $45,000 in total sales in 2014.  The cap will be set at $50,000 in 2015 and thereafter. (Remember, gross sales include all the money earned from sales before subtracting expenses.)    The legislature felt that when a cottage food operation was successful beyond those limits it had out-grown it’s “cottage industry” status and was ready for a more traditional business structure.

Can I have pets in my home?

Yes.  However pets and small children are not allowed in the kitchen (or other room) when cottage food products are being prepared, handled, or packaged.

Can I smoke?

Smoking is not allowed around cottage food products, their ingredients or equipment when they are being prepared, handled, or packaged or stored.

Can I advertise?


Do I need a business license?

Yes.  Where you get your business license will be determined by where you live.  If you live in an incorporated city (i.e. Vista, Carlsbad, San Diego, Lemon Grove, Santee, Chula Vista, etc.) you will apply to your local city hall.  If you live in an unincorporated area of the county, you will not need a business license.  To see if you live in an unincorporated town or where you should apply, click here.

Do I need to file a fictitious business name?

You may also need to register a fictitious business name if your business does not have your last name (surname) and indicate what you do.  For instance “Tom Jones Bakery” would not need to file a fictitious business name, but “Tom’s Bakery” or “Tom Jones’ Goodies” would need to file for a fictitious business name.  For information in San Diego county, click here.  You can check online to see if anyone else in San Diego county is using the name you would like. (Note: Filing a fictitious business name does not grant exclusive use of the name.) It is recommended that you file in person (instructions for filing here) at any of the county offices.  Filing is valid for five (5) years.

What is liability insurance?  Do I have to have liability insurance?

Liability insurance protects your assets in case you are sued as a result of damage or illness caused by your cottage food operation.  It is not required by law.  However, it is strongly recommended that your business have liability insurance to protect your personal assets.  Home-based businesses are generally not covered by standard homeowner’s or renter’s insurance.  Some establishments (farmer’s markets, retail stores, etc.) may require you to have liability insurance.  This will be discussed in a future blog.

Do I have to pay income tax on money I earn from my cottage food business?

Yes. You should consult with a tax professional for more details.  There may be certain tax advantages to having a home-based business.

Do I have to charge sales tax?

In general, food in California is not taxed. But, if food is served warm and meant to be consumed on premises it IS taxable. If you sell your cottage food directly and most people eat it there (whether it is your home or at a booth at an event), you will need to collect sales tax.  Otherwise, your cottage foods are generally free from sales tax.  For more details, consult an attorney or see this California sales tax guide:

Does local zoning still apply?

Yes. You should check with your local zoning or planning department to see if there are laws or regulations for home-based businesses. If there are, you may need to get a permit from the city to operate a business from your home, but the city or county cannot deny you a permit as long as your cottage food business complies with rules regarding noise, traffic, or other such concerns that may apply to a home-based business.

Where can I sell my products?

You can sell directly to customers from your home (providing it does not violate local restrictions), at farmers’ markets or community events, and (with the Type B permit) through restaurants, stores or other retail outlets.  Currently, third-party retailers will also have to be in San Diego County, though the county may allow sale in other counties in the future.  Most farmer’s markets and event organizers will have their own policies related to sale of certain foods.  Internet advertising can be done and sales made, but product must be delivered in person.

(Note: If you want to sell at a community event [including a farmer’s market] you will need to get a Temporary Food Facility vendor permit from San Diego Department of Environmental Health.  Click here for more information.)

What do I need to include on the label?

The common name of the product and all of the ingredients must be listed on your label, including ingredients of ingredients. In other words, if you use peanut butter as an ingredient, you must list its ingredients.  This can be done by putting them in parentheses immediately after the ingredient.  For example “Ingredients: popcorn, peanut butter (peanuts, oil, salt)”  Ingredients should be listed in order of the greatest amount (by weight) to the least amount used.

The label also must include:

  • the name of the cottage food operation,
  • the permit number and class (A or B)*,
  •  the words “Made in a Home Kitchen” in 12-point type on the product’s primary label,
  • a list of allergens,
  •  the net weight of contents, and
  • where the product was produced.

*Foods produced under Class B permits must also note the name of the county agency which issued the permit.

San Diego Dept. Environmental Health  provides an exaple of CFO Labeling Requirements on their website.

See our post on Labels: Do Say, Don’t Say

I have more questions. Many more questions. Whom do I contact?

Contact San Diego County Department of Environmental Health with specific questions at (800) 253-9933.  Read the FAQs posted by SDCDEH. State and county health departments are working on preparing the forms, instructions, and guidelines necessary to implement the new law.  Also, you can get our free e-newsletter or sign up for San Diego Cottage Foods blog to keep up with new information.

If you have questions that you think we might be able to answer or questions or comments about San Diego Cottage Foods blog or website, please email  Remember, information on this site is intended only for cottage food operators in San Diego County.  While some information may be applicable statewide, you should consult your local Department of Environmental Health if you are outside of San Diego County.

Additionally, this FAQ is not in any way legal advice.  We do not provide legal advice directly or through the FAQ, blog, or other communications.  You should consult an attorney for specific legal questions.




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  1. I would like to bottle and sell my BBQ sauce from my restaurant. Does BBq sauce count for this?

    1. BBQ sauce is not on the approved food list. But, since you have access to a Health Dept. inspected kitchen, you can make and bottle it there. Cottage Foods laws were created to help people start a small business without having to rent a commercial kitchen at the beginning. You are already set to go! Just contact the Health Department for other rules that pertain to bottling and labeling the sauce from your commercial kitchen.

    • Beverly on May 26, 2013 at 2:22 pm
    • Reply

    Do I need a sellers permit to sell cookies?

    1. Food is generally nontaxable in CA so it does NOT require a seller’s permit. However, if you heat it and it is to be consumed on premises, it becomes taxable. That shouldn’t be the case though for cookies 🙂

    • Amy on June 20, 2013 at 2:39 pm
    • Reply

    Can I ship my cookies out of the state or out of san diego?

    1. Unfortunately, the state has specified that cottage foods may not be shippped by any means but must be picked up or delivered yourself.

        • Nicole Lewis on January 16, 2019 at 4:21 am
        • Reply

        This is 2019. Everything is online. The question about shipping goods was answered in 2013. Can you sell spice blends and teas made from your home San Diego Online? Heard of Etsy? Can you sell your stuff also through Etsy. Let’s get with the program and answer questions that are relevant to today…NOT six years ago.

    • Dustin on June 20, 2013 at 4:11 pm
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    I would like to make and sell my Homemade Beef jerky in the local farmers market, how do I go about making this happen legally?

    1. You would have to do that in a health department-inspected and approved kitchen as beef jerky is not on the approved list for Cottage Foods operations. That means using a “commissary” kitchen — either renting time/space in a commercial kitchen or, some churches/nonprofits have kitchens which are inspected by the health department and might be willing to rent you space. Then you need to get a Temporary Food Facility permit approved by the county Department of Environmental Health.

    • Ben on July 1, 2013 at 4:08 pm
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    If my friend owns a coffee shop, assuming he allows me, can i sell my bars through his shop?

    1. Yes, if he is approved to sell food items and you have a Class B CFO permit. Would your product be individually wrapped and labeled? Either way is OK (i.e. if you made cake sold by the slice) but he would need to post certain information.

  2. I currently have a class B permit; do we need to renew the permit annually? If so, is the renewal cost $284? Do I need to bring in labels every year?

    1. Yes, permits renew annually for the same cost as the initial permit ($284). If your label hasn’t changed I don’t think you’d need to resubmit, but if you want to expand your product line (add new flavors or products) that is the best time to do it as the cost of reviewing your additional labels will be covered in the renewal fee.

    • Roger on August 13, 2013 at 12:38 pm
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    I can’t find it again, but I thought I saw one of the posts on this website say that “oil” is not allowed for Cottage Food Operations requirements. My recipe as baked includes canola oil. Is that a problem? This is my primary ingredients list: Flour, sugar, canola oil, eggs, and milk. This is all baked into a “bread”. It can easily go for days safely without being refrigerated. I’d like to get an opinion of if there are any problems in getting approved based on this list.

    1. Oil is fine, baked into your product. Oil or similar products (butter, for instance) used in a nonbaked product (i.e.,frosting) would mean that product would likely not be approved. But cooked into your baked goods, no problem with the oil, eggs, and milk!

    • Roger on August 13, 2013 at 12:51 pm
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    Yay! That’s where I saw that – on the “frosting” question. That answer makes me happy! 🙂

    What’s the current turn around for approval once things are filled out, submitted, etc. Is it pretty quick, or is there a delay of days or weeks? This is the government we’re talking about here. 🙂

    BTW – Great site! Very, very helpful.

    1. Not sure about the current approval time…may depend on Class A or Class B. In Feb, it was immediate if you had everything in place (completed application, Self-Inspection form (Class A) OR 1st half of Health Permit (Class B), your pre-approved sample label, business license, and payment. I believe they now accept debit cards. Save yourself a trip and make sure you have everything filled out. Email them a sample of the label first to be sure it is acceptable. See post Tips for Getting Permitted. And thank you for the encouraging words!

    • Darla Gliptis on August 13, 2013 at 2:41 pm
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    I am so thrilled to find your website. Do you know if there is any update on making dog cookies?

    1. Dog cookies are not specifically covered by the Homemade Food Act AB1616 so it’s difficult for us to say. In fact, it’s unclear who regulates that in the state.

    • Richard on August 14, 2013 at 1:35 pm
    • Reply

    I want to bottle n sell homemade teriyaki sauce n BBQ sauce at the farmers market. Is the cottage food way the way to do that? If not can you point me in the right direction? Plz!

    1. Currently, only mustards and vinegars are approved for making and selling from a home-based kitchen through the Cottage Food law. (You can see the list of CA-state approved foods toward the bottom of our Resources page.) Therefore you would need to rent a commercial, or other Health Department inspected kitchen facility to prepare and package your sauces.

    • Patricia on September 3, 2013 at 8:45 pm
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    What if i want to sell cakes from my home? The type of cakes that can be sold in a bakery?

    1. Cake itself is fine as long as all the ingredients are baked into it. Cake falls under the “baked goods” category on the approved foods list. The issue can come in with the frosting/icing. See our post on “Avoid Getting Frosted Over Frosting.”

    • Puja on September 16, 2013 at 12:49 pm
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    I want to start a small home based business of selling food produce. Can I start it my home kitchen?

    1. First check out the Do You Qualify Flow Chart then see if your food is on the CA CFO approved foods list

    • Puja on September 16, 2013 at 2:31 pm
    • Reply

    I have another question. Can I sell the bakes cookies containing butter and milk products?

    1. Cookies that are made with butter and milk as ingredients which baked into them qualify as cottage food products which can be made at home and sold with a Class A or B permit.

    • Ann on September 20, 2013 at 4:06 pm
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    Can I have a partnership?

    1. Good question, Ann! We know of no restrictions on the type of business structure (sole proprietorship, partnership, LLC, etc.) you choose.

    • Ann on September 20, 2013 at 4:18 pm
    • Reply

    If I have a partnership. Would we need to have two cottage food operation registration and who’s name would be have on the CFO owners name?
    Thank you

    1. (I believe) You would just fill out the application with the name of your CFO (company), then under “Owner” list both of your names. Use the address where the food will be made. It will be the same for the Self-Inspection application (if you want a Class A permit). If you want a Class B permit, you will complete the Public Health Permit application, too. It has a place to specify the type of business (sole proprietorship, partnership, etc.) Links to forms can be found on our Resources page.

    • Roger on September 23, 2013 at 9:12 am
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    I’m in a rural area and we don’t get mail at our physical address. Instead we get mail at a P.O. Box. Which address goes on the label: Mailing or physical? Or does it matter? I’d rather use the P.O. Box if allowed. I don’t think I saw it called out.

    1. According to the CA Dept. Public Health, the label must include “The name, city, state and zip code of the cottage food operation which produced the cottage food product. If the CFO is not listed in a current telephone directory then a street address must also be declared. (A contact phone number or email address is optional but may be helpful for consumers to contact your business.)” More than likely, the San Diego health department will insist on using the address where the food is made and which is permitted under the application.

    • Puja on September 23, 2013 at 3:03 pm
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    Can I start a Cottage food business in a rental house??

    1. Yes. Some local jurisdictions may require landlord approval for the business permit, but most do not.

    • Puja on October 10, 2013 at 10:18 am
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    Hi Again,

    Many thanks to you for this wonderful site and helping us. One more question

    I want to sell some home made cookies by Class A permit. Do I need a Business License?

    1. It depends on where you live. Unincorporated areas of San Diego do not require business licenses but if you are in San Diego, La Mesa, Escondido, etc. you will need to get one through your local municipality. See the link in Step 2 of the post “Simple Steps to Starting” for business licenses in your town.

        • Puja on October 11, 2013 at 10:48 am
        • Reply

        Hi again,

        Thanks for your reply. I am living in Oceanside and got mixed replies from SanDiego Health department and Local Licensing office. I was told by Oceanside Licensing office that to sell food in Farmers Market, I may not need Business license. But SD Environment and Health department , told me I need to get a Business License from Oceanside. I read your response from one of the questions about the sellers permit where you replied that cookies are non taxable so donot required a sellers permit.
        Now I am confused if the business License and Seller permit are two different permits? What type of permits/ License, I may require in addition to Class A permit.
        Please clarify.

        I have couple of more questions
        a) For Class A permit, Do I need to bring my cookies samples ready with me, in addition to the labels to get a Class A permit?
        b) Can I sell cookies by number rather than by weight?
        c) DO I still need to provide the weight of the product which might be slightly different from each other?

        1. If you live in Oceanside, you need an Oceanside business license. You do not need a CA Seller’s Permit to sell cookies, because they are nontaxable. (The Seller’s Permit is to pay to the state the sales tax collected on taxable items.) You can sell at a Farmer’s Market with a Class A CFO permit, but if you want to provide samples, you need a Class B CFO Permit. Send your sample labels to the Health dept. by email or fax for approval before going to submit your application. They do not want samples of your cookies. (Well, they might, but not for the application 🙂 Yes, you can sell cookies by count rather than weight in which case you would not need to provide the weight of the product.
          For easy, step by step directions, see our post on Simple Steps to Getting Started and Labels: Do Say, Don’t Say

    • Liz on October 11, 2013 at 10:03 am
    • Reply

    I would like to bottle and sell raw vegetable and fruit juice. Since raw items are not on the approved CFO list does that mean I would have to use a commercial kitchen to prepare and bottle them? I have a feeling that selling raw items may be more complicated than I initially anticipated, but any information you have on the subject would be much appreciated 🙂

    1. Unless it is listed on the CA CFO approved foods list, the San Diego Health Department is very unlikely to approve it. Sounds like you will need a commercial kitchen for preparation and bottling. We hope to have a post soon on available kitchens to rent.

    • Puja on October 11, 2013 at 11:02 am
    • Reply

    Any suggestion(s) On
    a) Pest control in Cottage food operations?
    b) Any site to order Packaging material?
    c) Any suggestions of ordering raw material like flour, nuts, oils in Bulk?

    1. You might try posting this question on our facebook page to engage other CFOs who may have suggestions! Just search San Diego Cottage Foods on Facebook or use the link on this site.

    • Lal on December 20, 2013 at 3:58 pm
    • Reply

    I live in San Diego(Rancho Bernardo) and want to sell home cooked indian vegetarian food(curry). The customer will come and pick up the food from my home. They will eat that at their own place but not in my premises. I understand that I need –
    1) Class A permit.
    2) Fill out a county registration form and a “self-certification” form agreeing to certain health safety procedures during food preparation
    3) Will not need to have my kitchens inspected
    4) A business license from local city hall
    5) Good to have liability insurance

    Is there anything I am missing? One more thing, I don’t see indian curry in the list of saleable items. Does that mean I can not sell it?


    1. There are only specific foods which are approved for a Cottage Food license. Indian flat bread (naan) could be made, and you could make a case for samosas (though presently only fruit filled pastries are approved), but curry itself is not on the approved food list. Likely, you will need a commercial kitchen and a caterer’s license. Contact the Health Department for more information.

    • Tom on January 1, 2014 at 7:16 pm
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    We are beginning the process of opening A CFO. I have a couple of questions.

    1) Once we apply for a Class B permit how long does it take to get someone to come out to inspect our kitchen or is this done prior to submiting the application?

    2) If I have 100 labels to get approved would I send them to the Health Dept to get approved prior to applying for the class B permit? I think the answer is yes from what I read in a prior reponse.



    1. Inspections for Class B permits are scheduled after your application is accepted. It’s unclear right now how LONG after but at least two weeks. In the past, the application was approved quickly if all was in order, and you could begin working while the inspection was pending. San Diego Health Dept. is no longer accepting labels in advance for review. You will submit them with the application. NOTE: The rates of $142 and $284 for A and B permits, respectively, are based on the department’s hourly rate. If you have 100 labels and it takes them more than an hour to review them, you will be charged another $142/hr (or any part of an hour more since they don’t have any provision for partial hours) that is required for full review.

    • janiece on February 27, 2014 at 9:52 pm
    • Reply

    Will I need to apply for a temporary food permit…even though I have a class A permit through cottage food products? When I apply for local events and farmers markets?

    1. According to the San Diego County Health Department, “A separate Temporary Food Facility Permit is not required to sell solely your prepackaged and labeled Cottage Food product. However, if any food preparation, sampling or sales of other than your cottage food products will be conducted inside the booth, then a separate Temporary Food Facility Permit will be required.” TFF Permits are $250 annually for multiple events. So… you only need one if you want to provide samples, no matter what Class of permit you have.

    • Ann Casas on March 29, 2014 at 6:23 pm
    • Reply

    Hi S.D. Cottage food, can you kindly provide a list of “commisary” kitchens in the area. The item I was looking forward to sell is my favorite salsa. I see it is sadly not on the CFO list and just of curiosity do it see it being approved in the near future?

    1. We will be doing a post on commissary kitchens in the near future. You’re right about salsas not being on the CFO approved list. Due to the processing and acidic environment, salsas and other items such as pickles will not be included in Cottage Foods. Handled improperly, they can cause botulism and other food related disease. Acidified products require a special canning license and approved kitchen.

  3. I want to obtain a Class B permit. If I get one, will I be able to sell cheesecake, which is made from eggs, butter, cream cheese, and sour cream.

    1. Whether or not cheesecake would fall under the “baked goods” category is a good question. Definitely not if the sour cream is a topping and not baked into the product. If all the perishable ingredients are baked in, you would likely need to get it tested to determine if it falls within the parameters of non potentially hazardous foods (having a minimum pH and water content). It’s unlikely, though, that a good cheesecake will have a sufficiently low water content.

    • mike marques on April 18, 2014 at 1:12 pm
    • Reply

    Hello CFO,

    I am interested in selling a sealed, jarred, homemade salsa which is made with all organic produce. Am I able to go through the CFO process to sell this at local farmer’s markets in San Diego and from restaurants? I do have access to a commercial kitchen if needed, but, would like to start production from my home kitchen. Thank you for your great forum!

  4. Salsas, pickles, tomato sauces and other acidified or canned foods have significantly different federal and state training and licensing requirements and do not qualify under Cottage Food Laws as they pose significant potential hazard. You would need to use a kitchen that has an approved cannery license.

    • Veronica on April 22, 2014 at 2:58 pm
    • Reply

    Do you know if there were any restrictions on converting a garage into a CFO ‘kitchen?’ My product is tortillas and the space needed to make them needs to be larger than my kitchen..

    1. The law is designed for (and most of the applications restrict use to) residential kitchens in the home. I believe that many municipalities regulate the business licenses by (among other things) making sure you are NOT remodeling to accommodate a more commercial style kitchen. The idea is to allow people to start small businesses from their homes without much added expense. I don’t believe there is any restriction specifically prohibiting you from converting your garage into a kitchen, but you may have issues with the health department if they inspect for a Class B permit. If it looks like a commercial production kitchen, they may want it to be licensed/inspected as such rather than your residential kitchen.

    • Brent on April 30, 2014 at 8:51 am
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    I am going to resale a bottled by manufacturer oil and vinegar product.I have been told I must use a commissary for the storage(for inspection access). Finding a fair price for shelf ,really a commissary required product?I have been told I have to store elsewhere under state and county requirements. Thanks for your help with my question.

    1. Oil and vinegar dressings are not on the approved (or soon to be amended) list of foods allowed under the Cottage Food Law so until oil/vinegar products are, you would need to use a commissary kitchen for storage and repackaging. You can request to have your product added to the list, but the next review will not occur until later in the year.

    • Scarlen Hernandez on June 1, 2014 at 9:57 pm
    • Reply

    I’m trying to sell fresh squeezed orange juice at farmers markets, what permits do I need?
    Thank you

    1. Sorry…can’t really help there. Orange juice is not an approved Cottage Food product.

    • Tina V on June 11, 2014 at 6:25 pm
    • Reply

    I’m very interested on starting my own home based business and excited because my products are on the approved list including my frosting, now my question is if I donate my baked goods to cottages in Balboa Park and they have them as samples for people to take is that legal??

    • Amber on June 13, 2014 at 6:39 pm
    • Reply

    1-what is the registration # to put on the label and how do I get one?
    2-how to pay the fees?,i live in orange county (permit A),is it after I send the application or with the application
    3-what other kind of permits that I need to get to sell my product in a farmer’s market?

    1. Your registration number will be the permit number issued by your CA County health department. Each county regulates and issues their own permits. For information re Orange County’s cottage food permits and requirements visit

    • sumerle on July 8, 2014 at 1:00 pm
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    Hi, I wanted to start a mobile tea party business for children. I would bring shelf stable pb&j sandwiches, fruit, cookies & choc covered items like pretzels, marshmallows & oreos. I’m wondering what licenses I would need & if class a would be sufficient. Also if I’m using store bought pb&j and other items, do those need to be approved as well or only what I actually bake like the cookies, cupcakes & frosting?

    1. For this type of business, you really need a catering license. Although most of the foods would qualify as non potentially hazardous, fruit and juice are not on the approved CFO foods list. The CFO permits are designed to allow you to make and sell the items whereas the catering permits are specifically designed for your purpose. Good luck in your business! We love entrepreneurs.

    • Allison on July 8, 2014 at 8:38 pm
    • Reply

    I have a question regarding the weight requirement for these items. Can it be a quantity instead of weight? I am looking at selling my items by quantity (wrapped individually). Can this be done?



    1. Yes, it can be by weight, volume, or count.

    • Allison on July 9, 2014 at 4:17 pm
    • Reply

    Thanks! Another question I have is that because I am using some commercial products in my ingredients (chocolate chips, M&M’s etc, there are many duplications of ingredients in the sub lists of ingredients. Do these items have to be listed multiple times? For example, my brownies include three different types of chocolate chips and they all contain cocoa butter, sugar and vanilla. Do I have to list these items each time under the corresponding chocolate chip ingredients?
    Thanks so much for your help!

    • Heather on August 11, 2014 at 8:55 am
    • Reply

    I live in Vista and have already submitted my application and labels for review. Your FAQ section states that incorporated SD needs a business license but says that Vista needs a home occupant permit, not a business license. will I need both? I have renters insurance for my apartment, would I need another type of insurance for the business?

    1. Vista requires a business license and a home occupation permit (which is part of the application and no extra charge). You can find both forms on the City of Vista website.
      As for insurance, your renter’s insurance generally will NOT cover your business or products. Sign up to get our new posts… coming up is one on Bsuiness Insurance for CFOs!

    • Luke Sanders on August 15, 2014 at 2:39 pm
    • Reply

    My wife and I are working on getting a bakery going, but want to ease into it. As of now, we are baking one day a week. My question is in regards to the “no more than one full-time employee”. Can we have two part-time employees? I am wondering because we hired one lady to help my wife, but a friend kind-of volunteered herself and started helping out as well. She enjoys the work, but I don’t want her to do this for nothing. Neither of the ladies are there all day, and the “volunteer” is usually only there about four hours.

    Also, could our two friends alternate day’s? Like instead of both being there on Friday, one on Thursday, and the other on Friday? That would make it no more than 8hrs paid help a day.


    1. We are not lawyers but the law says “not more than one full time equivalent employee” which suggests that one person 8 hours a day, 2 people at 4 hrs per day, or even 4 people 2 hours a day should be fine in addition to a household or family member.

    • Carrie on September 22, 2014 at 1:12 pm
    • Reply

    Thanks so much for all the guidance on your website, such a wealth of information! Just wondering if you have any recommendations on starting out permit wise, A vs. B? Not sure yet the direction I would like to take my business. If I get a B does that allow for direct and indirect sales or just indirect? If I wanted to do both do I need both permits?

    1. The A permit allows for direct sales anywhere in the state. The B permit allows for direct sales in the state AND indirect sales (i.e, wholesale to stores, coffee shops, etc.) sales in the county. If money is an issue or you do not yet have a solid following, the Class A permit may be sufficient for your first year.

    • Heather on September 22, 2014 at 8:05 pm
    • Reply

    The Class A registration does not allow sales for anywhere in the state. Depending on the rules and regulations for the county where you’re trying to sell products, most counties don’t accept CFO’s from other counties. i.e. I have my San Diego County CFO class A, I cannot legally sell in Los Angeles county.

    1. CA Assembly Bill 1212, passed in 2013, amended the CA Cottage Food Law AB1616 to “redefine(d) a ‘direct sale’ for these purposes as a transaction within the state between a cottage food operation operator and a consumer, as specified.” It’s believed the purpose of this was to allow permitted CFOs to participate in festivals in other parts of the state during the year. Again, it must be a direct sale between a CFO and the consumer. Shipping is not allowed. People with a Class B permit can also sell to stores, shops, etc. in other counties if approved by those counties. At one point, Riverside County was allowing sales from San Diego County CFOs, but we are unsure if that is still true.

    • Dani on January 24, 2015 at 7:08 pm
    • Reply

    I am planning to apply for a class A permit– I am trying to clarify the issue of direct selling. I rent space in a retail store where I am an independent vendor. I have my own space/booth where I sell retail items. The store collects payment and then pays vendors for the items they sell biweekly. The store owners do not buy the items from us — we are independent contractors and retain ownership of all of our items. Will a class A permit suffice for this? It seems like it would be no different, technically, than a Farmers Market type scenario …
    Any thoughts would be appreciated — thanks!

    1. As long as you (or your employee) ais the one selling to the customer, it is a direct sale and an A permit should suffice.

    • Ashly on February 3, 2015 at 5:17 am
    • Reply

    Very helpful website! Is there a reason why homemade food can’t be shipped? I can’t really find an answer as to why. I’m assuming if I prepared out of a commercial kitchen it would be ok. Thanks for your help.

    1. The reason used is that it is difficult to control and track if there EVER were to be a food-borne illness from a Cottage Foods product, and the local counties (who regulate CFOs) do not have the resources to do so. Before one can legally ship food from a commercial kitchen, certain state health requirements must be met. The state, then, has responsibility for ensuring that shipped foods are safe.

    • Brittany on February 24, 2015 at 11:37 am
    • Reply

    I am interested in selling prepackaged baked bundt cakes and fried chicken at the local farmers market. We will be selling pre-packages bundt cakes, preparing the fried chicken on-site, selling on-site and providing small samples of the bundt cake and fried chicken on site.

    Fried chicken is not on the approved list so I would need a Class B CFO permit AND TFF permit correct? — this would be to prepare food onsite and give samples right?

    For the prepackaged bundt cakes (since they are approved) I would need class A and class B CFO if I’m offering samples as well?

    Would I need permits for each item (re: cake / chicken) since one item is approved and one is not approved? or do the permits fall under the business itself.

    Also: Alcohol is used in the baked cake… Since this is not on the approved list will it make a difference since it is cooked out?

    Also: does it matter where I get my permits and where I sell? I would like to be able to go to markets in San Diego and Los Angeles county throughout the week. Not sure if permits are different or if you can advice.

    Thank you so much for all of the useful information. I look forward to hearing from you.

    1. This is a bit complicated because only the bundt cakes would be allowed with a cottage food permit. You would need a class B permit to provide samples of your cakes at a market or other location. Your cottage food permit is only good for the county where it is issued, though other counties may let you sell your products directly to consumers. You would need to check with the other county’s health department. In general, products containing alcohol as an ingredient are not approved for a cottage food permit (however, the small amount contained in flavoring extracts [i.e., vanilla extract] may be allowed). To cook or sell the fried chicken, you would need an entirely different type of permit and application process. Please contact your local county health department for that information. You also should contact the market to learn about their rules/regulations for cooking on site.

    • Jenny on March 4, 2015 at 2:14 pm
    • Reply

    I’m looking into starting a macaron business in Vista and was wondering if the Cottage Food Law could apply. I know the cookies themselves should be okay, but some of the fillings may incorporate dairy. Thoughts?

    1. That’s great news! Baked goods such as macaroons should be fine as long as they do not have cream, custard, or meat fillings. Please check with the local health department to confirm.

    • Mary on March 20, 2015 at 11:31 am
    • Reply

    Hi Cottagefoods,

    This is a great site. Can you tell me if I can sell raw nuts in San Diego? I see that prepared foods using nuts as ingredients are approved. Thank you!

    1. To our knowledge, YES, they are approved under “nut mixes and butters” on the CA Approved food list.

    • Nina on March 23, 2015 at 7:21 pm
    • Reply

    I’m in San Diego county and am wondering if lemon bars and apple pie bars made with fresh apples are allowed? I understand that buttercream frosting is now allowed. Do I need a cottage license if I sell to friends and they offer money for my ingredients? Or if I just let them give me what they want to, like thanking me with cash?

    1. It would probably depend on how you make your fruit bars (i.e, are they baked)? If so, they are likely to be approved, depending on what other ingredients are involved. If you are just making food for friends who want to compensate you for your time, engery, and ingredients, you don’t really need a cottage food license. (Though technically it is illegal to sell any homemade food without proper permits.) CFO permits are really for those looking to sell beyond a handful of friends and instead, create a home-based business.

    • Scott on March 24, 2015 at 12:39 pm
    • Reply

    You’re website has been a tremendous asset. This applies not only to CFOs, but small business start-ups in general. I’ve Thoroughly examined all the material available to me, in conjunction with the most recently approved CFO Food List, but one grey area I’m still seeking some clarity on is whether or not my product would be considered “cream” as identified on the list?

    In a nut shell, I’m rehydrating shredded organic coconut with warm filtered water, processing in blender, then straining trough a cheese cloth. The byproduct is a silky, smooth and delicious cream with no extras or additives. I haven’t reinvented the wheel in terms of production or product, but I’m just hoping that in your vast cottage food experience what the chances are of my venture starting out as a CFO?

    1. It sounds like your product would be a beverage, is that correct? Unfortunately, no beverages (or liquids, really) are approved as cottage food items. By definition, they do not meet qualifications for a non potentially hazardous food. Sorry!

    • Scott on March 24, 2015 at 8:28 pm
    • Reply

    No, my product is not intended to be a beverage, although it can be a delightful component to beverages and other savory treats. Essentially, the water infused with the dehydrated coconut produces a thick cream once strained and allowed to settle. The cream can then be used to make butter, whipping cream, puddings, etc. My question was related to what exactly has been codified as cream on the CFO Food List and whether or not my product would constitute their classification of cream? However, if cream is considered a liquid, and liquids are a “no go,” then it appears that I’m still swimming upstream with one paddle. Thanks again for being a tremendous resource!

    1. Ctream,to the health department, is from animal sources. Coconut cream would be fine as an ingredient but has not been approved to sell as an item itself. Sorry for any confusion.

    • Donna on April 4, 2015 at 4:28 pm
    • Reply

    I have a Class B CFO and have had for a couple years. I have been keeping track of the upgrades to my product lists, etc. I do Jams and Fruit Butters and dry spice mixes. I am considering upgrading to a commercial kitchen. Can you tell me the advantages of this and what will be involved with the upgrade as well as what permits I will now need to get other than renting the local commercial kitchen. Also, will my products, once they are completed, need to be stored at the commercial kitchen? The main reason for upgrading would be for increased sales, shipping and out of county sales as well as increasing my product list.

    1. Good news that you and other CFOs are growing to the point of considering a commercial kitchen rental! One of the main advantages is that you can get state approval to ship your product. Though you can already sell to stores and markets with your Class B license, it would make it easier to get into some stores and allow you to ship and sell your product out of the county. You also can make more money (the CFO license has a cap of $50K/year) and hire more people (currently limited to one employee outside of immediate family/household members). And, of course, you can expand your menu beyond the CFO approved food list. The downside is that you must fit your work hours into the schedule of the kitchen and the costs are higher than working from home. You must store ingredients at the kitchen and package the product there, but I don’t think the packaged product has to be stored there. The increased cost may, though, be offset by your increased sales from expanding your market area and menu. As far as permits, the commercial kitchen operators can better advise you there. Good luck!

        • Donna on June 11, 2015 at 9:33 am
        • Reply

        Just to give an update… I am now in a commercial kitchen. Sales have doubled and product list has increased. I am also beginning to sell in stores outside of my county AND can ship. I can almost not keep up with it all, but it is wonderful. Am currently building a commercial kitchen in my county (land is purchased and plans are in the county for approval) so that others can go this route. The kitchen will also be permitted as a cannery.

    • Alan on April 23, 2015 at 7:55 pm
    • Reply

    If i have a cfo class a permit from Riverside County, Will San Diego county allow me to sell my products?

    1. You should contact the SD Health Department directly. If you are coming into the county to sell at an event, farmer’s market, roadside stand or other venue where you sell directly, they may consider it on a case-by-case basis. Contact us with the answer you get!

    • Kyle on May 27, 2015 at 10:01 am
    • Reply

    My wife owns a retail shop, can I sell baked goods in there with a Class A if I am present?

    1. Sorry, no. The health department says Cottage Food may only be sold out of a permitted food facility within San Diego County. Class A CFOs may not set up a table within any retail store to sell directly to any customer walking in. They must be part of a Farmer’s Market, CFO, swap meet, or other approved event to be able to set up a spot to sell directly to the customer. Otherwise, your business must run from within your home. If you wanted to advertise within the shop, there are no restrictions to doing so, just no food may be present as part of the advertising.
      In order to sell your product to a permitted food facility so that they may sell it, you must be a Class B CFO.

    • Nicole on July 28, 2015 at 9:35 am
    • Reply

    Can I sell pickled jalapeños?

    1. Sorry, no pickled anything–but many other foods are approved! See resources page for a link the the approved food list.

    • Kim on August 10, 2015 at 10:30 am
    • Reply

    If my sales are very limited and I’m only selling to friends/family and an occasional referral do I really need to apply for this and pay the fee? Is there a starting point, like if you make more than $1,500 per year, then you would need to apply??

    1. If you are only baking for friends and family who want to pay you for your time and ingredients, it’s fine. If you want to advertise or sell to a wider audience, you will need a permit.

    • Max on August 18, 2015 at 12:00 am
    • Reply

    This website is awsome I want to know if I can sell dehydrated beef jerky if not how would I go about it if preparing it in a home kitchen

    1. Only foods which are on the CA Approved Cottage Food Operations list can be permitted to be made at home for sale. Only non potentially hazardous foods can be approved for Cottage Food permits so there are no meats, pickled or fermented products, or salsas are on the list. Those and other products not approved for CFOs must be made in a commercial, licensed-rental, or other health department inspected (for a Grade) kitchen. None can be made at home for sale.

    • michele on August 28, 2015 at 7:46 pm
    • Reply

    Hi. I want to do a fundraiser that involves cookies and baked goods, all of which are on the list of cottage foods, but if I am not selling them and collecting any money for them, do I still need to pay for the permit? I can’t find any information on cookies and baked goods GIVEN away rather than sold. THANKS!!!

    1. Non profits (schools, churches, etc.) are allowed to do 3 or 4 ‘bake sale’ type events per year without having to get CFO permits or temporary food facility (TFF) permits.

    • Eddie on September 20, 2015 at 9:08 am
    • Reply

    Would vegetable and or tofu dumplings fall into any of the approved categories?

    1. Non potentially hazardous foods by definition have to be below a certain water content level. The low water content of baked goods, chocolate, coffee beans, nuts, etc. inhibit the growth of bacteria allowing the foods to be stored safely at room temperature for extended periods of time. Unless your dumplings are very, very low in their water content, it’s unlikely they’d be approved.

    • andhrea on October 5, 2015 at 10:59 am
    • Reply

    Great resource. The FAQ page states: “The baked goods may not be decorated or garnished with fresh fruits or vegetables.” Can baked goods be decorated with edible flowers? Thank you.

    1. Great question. No is probably the answer since there are no edible flowers on the state approved food list. Perhaps you’d like to see about getting some specific ones added? See our post on getting foods added to the CA state approved food list.

    • Charles Anacker on November 22, 2015 at 10:55 pm
    • Reply

    Can I build and license an approved commercial kitchen in my garage separate from my home kitchen to make lacto-fermented pickled vegetables in La Mesa. I realize that they are not cottage products, but the ambient temperature control needed for processing and storage makes sharing a rented commercial kitchen problematic.
    Thank you

    • Jean on December 15, 2015 at 2:52 pm
    • Reply

    I would like to raise money and awareness for a charity (non-profit foundation) by giving away food items and inviting recipients to make donations in support of the charity. Some of the food items are not on the Cottage approved food list. Since I am not selling the food but am giving it away and accepting donations toward a charity, am I still required to have a permit?

    1. 501(c)3 non profits are allowed to do 3 ‘bake sale’ type events each year without a permit. However, they are limited to offering only non-potentially hazardous food to the public. Food such as a fundraising dinner is allowed when done for the organization’s own members.

  5. Do I have to be or have a licensed commissary?

    1. Not if you are approved as a Cottage Food Operator to make and sell foods on the CFO approved food list.

      1. Thank you for that info!

    • Kris on January 28, 2016 at 5:57 pm
    • Reply


    Your site is a great resource and it is much appreciated!

    I see someone mentioned an inspection of their home kitchen when using a Class A permit.
    I have not seen this anywhere else. Could you expand on inspections and permitting?


    1. Class A permits require a signed letter of commitment to specific sanitary practices. Home inspections are done only for Class B Cottage Food Permits. Reviewing the practices specified for Class A permits is a good idea for preparing for the home inspection, though!

    • Karin on February 6, 2016 at 10:32 am
    • Reply


    I make jars of pickled garlic is this permitted for Cottage Foods made at home?
    If not I also dry batches of herbs and roots can I sell them dried or make into a paste (like mole)?

    Thank you

    1. Pickled products are not approved foods on the CA Cottage Foods List. However, dried herbs are approved and so are most herb pastes, including moles. For more information on approved foods, see

    • Lucy on February 21, 2016 at 11:26 pm
    • Reply

    Hi, I am considering starting a CFO but am currently renting a duplex. I might be moving into an apartment. Are both locations approved for starting a CFO?

    1. Yes, both houses and apartments can be used as the base for a CA cottage food business, but you may be required to show landlord’s acceptance/approval.

    • Debora on March 26, 2016 at 7:54 am
    • Reply

    Can I use cheeses and vegetables baked into a bread or muffin? It seems to me that fruits have higher water content than cheeses and some vegetables…

    1. It should be fine as long as the final product meets pH and water content specified for non-potentially hazardous foods.

    • Shannon on April 16, 2016 at 10:06 am
    • Reply

    I’m just now getting into CFO and will be making and selling cookies. I have a question about labels, unsure if this has been covered or not. I understand all of the info that MUST be on the label, however, it’s unclear if it matters what order or where it is put on the label. As long as everything is there and in the required font size, I’m cool…. right? 🙂

    1. All of the info must be on the primary label (except for ingredients & allergens which are the only things that can be on a secondary label). As long as the information is present and the font is such that the smallest ‘o’ is 1/16 of an inch, it’s good! Layout, spacing, font, graphics, order of information, etc. are all at your discretion. Feel free to make beautiful attractive, colorful labels!

        • Shannon on April 27, 2016 at 6:35 pm
        • Reply

        Thank you! So helpful. 🙂

        ~ Shannon

    • Sirlei on April 25, 2016 at 7:13 pm
    • Reply

    I am moving to San Diego and I want to start my cake business from home to attending farmer markets and direct sales. What is the firs steps I need to do ? Do I need the food manager certificate, if so can I do online before getting in California ? Do I need a professional kitchen for class B license ?

    Thanks !

    1. Check out our RESOURCES tab and the post Simple Steps to Starting. If you are renting, the first thing you will need to do is confirm with your landlord that they will allow you to have a cottage food business. Then we suggest determining your menu, working out costs, how and where you will sell your products, how much you will need to charge to be profitable, and designing the labels you would submit for approval and use. These steps cost you nothing and are critical to a successful start. (If you plan to sell at a farmer’s market, but none near you have room, or already have people vending similar products, you might need a different strategy.) Since the permits must be renewed every year, it is good business to get the license when you are actually ready to start rather than paying the fees and losing 4-6 months because you did not do the earlier steps first.

    • padma on June 1, 2016 at 5:55 pm
    • Reply

    I live in sandiego, Miramesa, 92126.I would like to start a cottage food business in my rental home.
    can you guide me step by step procedure? What to do first and whom shall i contact first? When and where
    to attend the course? What they will teach in the course?
    where to print the labels? Anybody will guide me properly how to do labeling? I am completely blank.
    Before starting the business i want to know everything.


    1. Check out our RESOURCES tab and the post Simple Steps to Starting. If you are renting, the first thing you will need to do is confirm with your landlord that they will allow you to have a cottage food business. Then we suggest determining your menu, making sure your foods are approved for a Cottage Food business, working out costs, how and where you will sell your products, how much you will need to charge to be profitable, and designing the labels you would submit for approval and use. These steps cost you nothing and are critical to a successful start. If everything looks good and makes sense to you,you can take the next steps of applying for a permit. Read through the posts on the website to see what else you should consider.

    • Maria on July 1, 2016 at 12:08 am
    • Reply

    Hello, What do I need to do to start selling macarons with buttercream fillings and cheesecakes?

    1. Your first step is to check out the most recent list of CA CFO Approved Food list. Macaroons can be made and sold under the Cottage Food permit, only certain buttercream frostings/fillings are acceptable (so check your recipe)and no cheesecakes are allowed. Afterwards, check out our RESOURCES tab and the post “Simple Steps to Starting.”

    • Jacob on August 21, 2016 at 9:53 pm
    • Reply

    Can I sell rice with bacon

    1. See the list of foods approved for sale under CA’s Cottage Food Law here

    • MsEss on September 9, 2016 at 11:57 pm
    • Reply

    This site is amazing! I read all of the start up posts and resources pages but I’m still confused about selling decorated cakes and the labeling. 1) If the cake is in a bakery box, can the label be attached at the bottom of the box?
    2) if I make a lemon cake, buttercream frosting, fondant covered cake, would i just add list all ingredients or do I have to break down the ingredients lists by cake/frosting/fondant?
    3. Homemade marshmallow fondant. is this considered a baked good or candy or just a decorating ingredient?

    1. Thank you for the kind, encouraging words. We want everyone to succeed in their CFO dreams. As to your questions
      1. A secondary label which has ONLY the ingredient list (including noted allergens) can be on the bottom of the box. All other information must be on the primary list.
      2. You need to break down the ingredients according to cake/frosting/fondant.
      3. I don’t think you need to list marshmallow fondant as an individual product unless you are planning to sell it separately. If so, candy is probably the better category.

    • Julia on September 15, 2016 at 2:52 pm
    • Reply

    I have a CFO class A and will be selling pre-packaged foods. Are there any packaging restrictions/requirements? The farmers market I am applying for is asking for a packaged food permit – do I need that if I have a CFO and package my product in my home?

    • AW on September 24, 2016 at 8:28 pm
    • Reply

    Where can I get more information on what’s allowed for non-profit groups? I have a girl scout troop and we would like to sell trail mix and jarred brownie mix at an event. I’m unclear on what requirements we need to meet.

    1. Salsa is not approved as a food for cottage food businesses.

    • Norma on September 26, 2016 at 12:05 pm
    • Reply

    I want to know if I can bottle a mixed of herbs with olive oil and vinegar, is a sauce called “chimichurri” .
    On the list there is a mixed herbs.

    1. I’m sorry. Chimichurri is not on the approved food list and would not, at present, be approved by the San Diego Health Department. You might want to submit chimichurri to the state for addition to the CA Cottage Foods approved foods list.

    • BERNIE on October 25, 2016 at 8:26 pm
    • Reply

    Hello. I made some research online and found out a lot of caterers in San Diego has their home address as their business address. Is it legal for caterers to use their house as their kitchen? Just wondering, Thanks.

    1. We are not familiar with guidelines for catering – just Cottage Food permits.

    • Grace on November 7, 2016 at 1:43 pm
    • Reply

    Hi there. I see “salted caramel” is on the list of approved items. Would a caramel sauce fall under this category?
    Thank you!

    1. Unfortunately, no sauces are allowed. Multiple queries to CDPH with this request in the past have confirmed that sauces do not fit into any of the approved categories. See our post on how to submit requests to add your product to the approved foods list here

    • Trisha on November 17, 2016 at 5:08 pm
    • Reply

    I had a previous cottage food license in San Diego and they allowed me to use my Swiss meringue buttercream recipe because the egg whites were heated to 165 degrees which makes it stable. I just moved back and am going to re apply and wondering if you know of anyone else who was able to get this approved, in case they try to deny me this time around. I love your site, even though I’ve done this before it’s still confusing to me, it’s so helpful to be able to read all of your wonderfully helpful information…thank you!

    1. Sorry. No frosting with eggs.

    • Phil on December 21, 2016 at 8:21 am
    • Reply

    Hello! I plan to open a macaron cottage food business.
    Checking all documents, there’s no “macaron” written, but baked food with cream are not allowed.
    The problem is that a ganache is made with chocolate and cream and I don’t think there’s another way to do it.
    Does that mean macarons are not allowed as cottage food?
    Thank you for your answer!

    1. San Diego Health Department is pretty strict about products. If the ganache has cream, it won’t be allowed. I believe other states allow it. If it meets the definition of non-potentially hazardous in terms of water content and pH, you might petition to have it added to the approved list. However, no other cream products have been approved.

    • Jazmine on December 21, 2016 at 10:29 pm
    • Reply

    So I’m looking to sell salsa is thag covered ?

    1. Salsas are not a permitted food for cottage food businesses.

    • melissa on January 5, 2017 at 3:59 pm
    • Reply

    I just applied for CFO permit B. The specialist who helped me said I need to get a food safety managers certificate, but your post says i need a food handlers certificate. the managers certificate is more expensive and time intensive. can you confirm if the food handlers is sufficient, or if i need to take the managers one? thanks!!

    1. The information re. a food handler’s certificate is correct. See
      But it must be through one of the approved online courses (or through an in-person class offered by the county). The one we recommend on our website is one of the least expensive and you don’t pay until you pass 🙂

    • NICOLE Marie Beard on January 5, 2017 at 11:53 pm
    • Reply

    When looking through the approved food list and all the comments, I saw “herb mixtures” listed. I wasn’t sure what exactly thing included. I’m looking for resources on selling herbal extracts (herbs extracted into alcohol, oils, vinegar, honey ect.) Is this the right place for that? If not can you direct me to any resources? Thank you in advance

    1. The “herb mixtures” category is intended for dry herbs and spices (such as those used for flavorings or to make rubs for meat). Alcohol extracts would definitely not be approved. One person has been approved for a vinaigrette made with vinegar and raspberries so you might be able to do an herb infused vinegar, but that would likely be the extent of what you could do as a cottage food operator. Otherwise, you would probably need to go through the state’s Processed Food Registration Program and work from a commercial kitchen to produce the other items.

    • Cheryl on January 15, 2017 at 2:00 pm
    • Reply

    I distributed chocolate candies that I made in my home kitchen during the holidays as gifts to neighbors and friends. These were made without baking and only include sugar, ground up store-bought cookies, cocoa, nuts, store-bought karo syrup and flavoring. Now a lot of people want to buy the candies. I have a regular job that is not in the food industry. And I would not have any employees. I don’t anticipate more than $10,000 in sales for the first year. Do I still need to get a permit to qualify as a cottage industry? How do you distinguish between people who sell home-prepared goods at neighborhood bake sales (who probably don’t bother to qualify as a cottage industry) versus people who should qualify? I understand the importance of labeling rules and would follow them. Thanks.

    1. If you want to sell your homemade candy, you should get an A permit to start. It’s $142 right now (but may increase to $210 in July!!) and a fairly simple process. It will allow you to sell to your friends, co-workers, etc without incurring penalties. If it’s something you will done once or twice a year and they want to give you money for it, that’s a little different. If you want to do it on regular, or semi-regular basis for income or profit, it’s cheaper to get a permit than be fined. Churches and nonprofits are allowed to sell non potentially hazardous foods as fundraisers in certain community events a few times per year.

    • melissa on January 18, 2017 at 8:07 am
    • Reply

    Can anyone reading this question provide more specifics on sales tax for a cottage food B permit seller? When to charge sales tax, and when not to? Also, do I apply with the Board of Equalization? Thanks!

    1. For the most part, sale of food in CA is nontaxable. There are some exceptions (sale of hot food to go, for instance) but in general, cottage foods are non taxed in CA. You should check with a tax attorney or Board of Equalization to be sure re. your specific products. If taxable, you would get your seller’s tax permit from the Board of Equalization in order to pay the state sales tax.

    • JJJJJJJJ on January 27, 2017 at 2:31 am
    • Reply

    Thank you for your wonderful information 🙂
    It helps a lot to me !

    Can I have a question ?

    I wanna sell my breads at farmers market 🙂

    1.If I put cheese filling (such as mozzarella or cheddar and the others) inside the bread , is it okay ?

    2. Even though baked , whipcream or cream cheese is not approved as filling inside the bread ?

    3. Is it okay if I use Olive or non dried vegetable as filling inside the bread ? (Of course baked bread)

    4. How about sweet red bean paste as bread filling ?

    5. Is it okay if I use butter cream filling inside the bread ?

    Thank you for your time 🙂 have a lovely day !

    1. Usually cheese, cream, and cream cheese fillings in bread are not approved products. You should contact the health department directly to inquire about filings but know that typically no dairy filled baked goods are approved for cottage food licenses. If it is a small amount that gets baked into the product, it could be approved. But if it has a filling or custard-like consistency, then no. You would need to rent a commercial kitchen for such.

    • Jason Silva on January 27, 2017 at 8:45 am
    • Reply


    Thank you so much for this forum it’s so informative! Thank you!

    We would like to buy peanut butter by the drum and bottle it at home with our own label.

    Does repackaging fall under the same category as cottage foods?

    Thank you!

    1. Yes, repackaging of CA approved cottage foods products can be done with a Cottage Food license. The words “Repackaged in a Home Kitchen” must appear on the primary label in 12 point type (similar to Made in a Home Kitchen requirements).

  6. Sorry. No, fresh greens of any sort are not approved under the Cottage Food Law. Dried herbs and vegetables are OK, though.

    • Padma on February 9, 2017 at 9:28 am
    • Reply

    I want to change my business name. Already I have business license and food handler certificate. Before submitting my application form I want to change my business name. Is it possible? If so how long it will take? Kindly reply

    1. If you want to change your business name before your CFO permit is issued, no problem. If you want to change it AFTER it has been issued, but before renewal, you may need to re-apply and have your labels reviewed again :/ As far as your business license, contact your local business licensing office. Remember, you may need to re-apply and re-advertise your fictitious business name, too.

    • Danielle on February 12, 2017 at 11:53 am
    • Reply

    I’ll be making Cake Pops and with regard to the various colors of chocolate coating, do I need to make a separate label for each color coating? The ingredients of the chocolate coatings are essentially the same with the exception of the FD&C colorings. Can I put all the various coatings on the same label to include all the colors as a blanket ingredient but listed individually? I.E. Red #40, Yellow #6 etc

    1. You will have to have a separate label for each color if the ingredients (including food coloring) vary at all. That’s how DEH-FHD rolls. To make it easier for them (and you) be sure to tell them that the ingredients are the same except for the type of food coloring added.

    • Natalia on February 15, 2017 at 9:36 pm
    • Reply

    You site is a true blessing. I want to open a CFO in San diego. However I don’t currently live there i am in Las Vegas. If I’m able to use a family member’s kitchen can I apply for a CFO and not be a resident? I’m planning on getting a class B permit.

    1. The owner of the business must be a county resident. San Diego does not allow partnerships per se. Your family member would have to apply and be the responsible party.

    • Tanya on March 7, 2017 at 9:08 pm
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    I recently opened an ice cream store and would like to provide baked goods that I either baked at home or prepped at home then baked in our toaster oven at the shop. Would I need a cottage license for this?

    1. You could get a cottage food license to prepare certain baked goods at home to sell directly to consumers. There are some rules about how they are advertised in retail locations. However, you could not, under a cottage food license, prep the items at home then cook in the shop, other than reheating.

    • Karen on March 9, 2017 at 8:40 am
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    1. Can I make caramel sauce and bottle it?
    2. Can I make chocolate infused with alcohol?

    1. Unlikely as no sauces and no alcohol containing products are on the approved list for cottage foods in CA. The list is strictly interpreted by county health departments. You would need to use a commercial kitchen.

    • Mel on March 24, 2017 at 10:38 am
    • Reply

    Hi I really want to get a Class A license to sell cookies. i just have a quick question. im really hoping for your response. if my cookie batter has few tablespoons of (purple yam) would it be approved? Other than that its just regular ingredients of simple white chocolate chip cookie batter

    1. I believe so, but will check. Like eggs, when baked into a cake or cookie that has low moisture content (as opposed to custards or quiches)it should not present a problem. Check back for changes.

    • Dhanashree on March 24, 2017 at 3:22 pm
    • Reply

    If I want to sell my products to office meetings and for that can i use websites like ezcaters? I’ll be delivering the goods directly but will get paid through ezcaters. please guide.

    1. You can advertise and use websites to promote your products. It must be clear that you will deliver and items will not be shipped. The health department does not care how you are paid. 🙂

    • Dhanashree on March 30, 2017 at 2:47 pm
    • Reply

    Can i use online ordering websites like grub hub or ezcaters to get orders? I’ll be delivering personally but will get paid through websites?
    Need urgent help
    Thank you.

    1. You can advertise and use websites to promote your products. It must be clear that you will deliver and items will not be shipped. The health department does not care how you are paid 🙂

    • * on April 13, 2017 at 7:26 am
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    I live in an apartment in National City, do you know of anyone who has been approved to operate from an apartment? or is this the deadend for people who live in an apartment? it’s ironic that it’s supposed to help families who are in need of extra income. and normally these families are those cant affod to buy their own homes. if the apartment owner doesnt allow it then its the end for those families. it comes down to just those who owns a home to earn more money instead of those who are really in need to be self sufficient

    1. San Diego Health department does approve Cottage Food applications for apartment dwellers. Sometimes the bigger challenge is determining your building’s “parcel number” for the application but it can be done. Your landlord has the right to deny you permission, but unless they bring it to the health department, usually there’s no issue. One idea is to apply for a Class A registration which does not require the inspector to visit your place. Alternatively, if your landlord is very against the idea, try to find out why. If it is because s/he thinks there will be too much traffic in/out of your apartment, promise to only do deliveries (or with a B permit, sell wholesale to other retail outlets). Ultimately though, because the landlord is the property owner, they have the right to determine what can and cannot happen on their property.

        • * on April 18, 2017 at 8:37 am
        • Reply

        If you live in an unincorporated area of the county, you will not need a business license. Does this mean I only need the approval of DEH? Will I be required to pay taxes too?

        1. If you live in an unincorporated area, you do not need a business license as there is no incorporated “city” to get it from. You can apply to DEH for your Cottage Food permit without a business license. The license is simply a way for your city to regulate (and get fees) from businesses in their community. You will still have to pay taxes on your net business income (total business revenue minus your business expenses).

    • Shelby Hedrick on April 23, 2017 at 9:02 pm
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    I was wondering if I can sell lumpia out of my home? It is a meat and vegetable mixture wrapped in an eggroll type wrapper. They would be prepared and frozen so the consumer can fry them at home. I didn’t think I could but I just found out, someone in the area got approved to sell it.

    1. No meat products are approved for Cottage Food Operators. No foods that need to be kept refrigerated or frozen are approved for Cottage Food operators, either. It would have to be prepared in a commercial or inspected rental kitchen. One might also need a caterer’s license. You should be able to check their license (it would not be a Cottage Food license) with the County Health Department.

    • * on April 24, 2017 at 6:39 am
    • Reply

    So if you live in an apartment in an unincorporated city, would a home occupation permit still be needed or a consent from the property owner?

    1. There would not be a home occupation permit because there’s no business license. To my knowledge, the San Diego Health Department does not require you to provide a landlord’s written permission, but the landlord could probably force you to quit if they don’t allow it.

    • MEl on May 3, 2017 at 10:30 am
    • Reply

    Will white chocolate buttercream pass? also uf i add buttermilk as ingredient to my cupcake batter

    1. If your buttercream frosting does not have eggs, cream or cream cheese, it should be fine. Buttermilk is fine.

    • ted on May 4, 2017 at 10:17 pm
    • Reply

    Can I prepare salads in a mason jar? The ingredients are layered in the jar with dressing in the bottom of the jar, ingredients like tomatoes and vegetables next and the lettuce on the top. I could place the dressing in a separate container or use a prepackaged dressing.

    1. ONLY products on the approved CA Cottage Foods list can be made under a CFO license. Salads are not among them.

    • ** on May 12, 2017 at 11:07 am
    • Reply

    My mind’s debating whether I should pursue getting CFO license or not. I started to bake as a hobby. Mostly for friends and relatives, some friends of friends are the only people who ask me to bake for them and they pay me for my labor. Is it necessary for me to get a license if I’m only baking let’s say every weekend, one day out of the week and to limited number of people. Getting a license doesn’t seem cost effective due to the start up expenses, and plus I’m not going to be able to do this full time since I have a full time job already. Any advice?

    1. EXCELLENT QUESTION! Use the search bar on our site for the post “Business or Hobby” which addresses some of your concerns. In general, if you are only doing random, occasional products for friends and family who compensate you for your effort, there’s no need for a business and CFO license. However, if you ever want to expand your baking and provide it to a wider audience, or advertise it, then you would need to get more formalized.

    • Mel on May 22, 2017 at 11:51 am
    • Reply

    I finally narrowed down the products I will submit for approval. Unfortunately, none of the cupcakes I make for my family and friends would be approved. My question is if someone I know orders cupcakes from me as a special order, can I still do it? or am I now limited to making cookies? I am not planning to sell the cupcakes to public as I know this is not approved, but my family and friends are willing to still buy them from me. I’m sure even after getting license, they will still ask me to make it for them.

    1. Under your Cottage Food license, you can only sell products approved on the CA Cottage Foods List. Selling products that are not approved, whether to family or friends, or anyone else, jeopardizes your permit and puts you at risk of fines, revocation, or other penalties. Though your family and friends may not complain, others with whom your family/friends share the unapproved products may wonder how you are doing that and either inquire with or complain to the health department.

    • Jake on May 23, 2017 at 2:14 pm
    • Reply

    First of all I want to commend this site for the wealth of information and your diligence to answer all the aspiring CFOs’ questions. Without it, it wouldn’t have been possible for us to move one step closer to our goal. But just a question, I see a lot of CFOs claiming to have a license but when you look at their instagram pages, you will see that they are selling the items commercially (through restaurants) which I would assume would require a Class B license, but then again, the items they sell wouldn’t even be on the list of approved items to be a CFO. How come? I just thought that a lot of people who wants to do it right are beating themselves up to be legal and abiding by law and then you see all these thriving and “successful businesses” who don’t seem to care at all.

    1. First, thank you for the kind words! Secondly, to sell wholesale to a food establishment for them to resell would require a Class B (rather than a Class A) Cottage Food license. Secondly, if they are selling foods in their county which are not on the CA approved Cottage Foods list, both they and the food establishment run the risk of fines, revocation, or other punitive action. However, if they work out of a commercial kitchen and have a catering or other type of food preparation license, they could make a broader range of products. You can confirm a CFO license by calling the county health department and confirm products are allowed by checking the approved food list published by California Dept. of Public Health. They have recently updated their website. The new link to this list is HERE

    • Elizabeth Fiorito on May 24, 2017 at 7:21 pm
    • Reply

    I want to have a bake sale at my church and in my neighborhood. Will I need something for that??

    1. A nonprofit such as a church or school in San Diego county can hold a bake sale and sell non potentially hazardous foods. However you should check with the health department to see what requirements they have for such a Temporary Food Facility event and how often it’s allowed.

    • Bivy on June 10, 2017 at 7:09 am
    • Reply


    I live in an unincorporated part of La Mesa. Would I still need to get a license through the city of La Mesa because my address specifies La Mesa, CA?

    1. That’s tricky. Technically no, but you would have to convince the Health Department that you are in an unincorporated area.

    • M on June 23, 2017 at 2:20 pm
    • Reply

    I would like to know if after getting the CFO permit and the business license and getting it announced in the paper you can start doing the business right away. Is it required that I have a business credit card and business bank account? or can I just use my own debit card/ and use different payment apps to accept payments? Also is it required that I make it an LLC? I’m not going full business route where I hire a person and stuff.

    1. Once you have your CFO permit you are free to begin selling your products. Having a business account will help you keep personal and business income/expenses separate for tax reporting but is not a requirement. Neither is an LLC.

    • Ria on June 27, 2017 at 2:59 pm
    • Reply


    Love all the wealth of information I have read on this thread and that you have managed to answer almost all of them! My question is, do I need to make a label for each flavor cake I offer? chocolate cake, cookies and cream, strawberry? If I offer 20 flavors, do I need 20 labels?

    1. YES. You must have a specific label for each product/flavor that has the ingredients specific for that product. The good news, though, is that as of July 1, 2017 in San Diego, you don’t have to have every label reviewed and approved. You can if you like, but don’t have to do so. Remember, every flavor of cake AND frosting must be noted on the label. For combinations, consider making a label (or secondary label) with separate sections for the Cake and Frosting and Decorations. Then you can copy/paste each section as needed when printing the label.

    • Justincasem on July 6, 2017 at 9:11 pm
    • Reply

    So chocolate chipped cookies is fine because it’s a type of ” cookie ” and doesn’t require refrigeration ? Also for a non filled churro ?

    1. Yes, chocolate chip cookies and non filled churros are approved CA cottage foods.

    • Brenda Fischer on July 29, 2017 at 2:54 pm
    • Reply

    I wanted to sell dried tea mixes and hot chocolate mixes. All of the ingredients come from prepackaged materials that are FDA approved. Do I need anything permit wise to sell these online through my already existing shop?

    1. Both dried teas and chocolate mixes can be sold to consumers in your CA county with a Cottage Food permit (directly to customers with a Class A or indirectly to stores for resale with a Class B permit). You can take orders online but CANNOT mail any cottage food product.

    • Jesse on August 14, 2017 at 9:38 pm
    • Reply

    Hi I am seeking to start a food truck business, however wanted to start off by seeing if I was able to prepare and sell foods like BBQ meats, side salads without having the huge overhead of purchasing or leasing a actual restaurant, and doing it as a home catering business? Do I need to find a local commissary or prep kitchen to qualify? I know this thread is about the cottage program, but thought maybe someone could guide me in the right direction. I’m a entrepreneur/cook moving to San Diego and want to sell my food if I can. Any information would be greatly appreciated.

    1. Yes, you would need to work out of a commissary kitchen. The health department has a whole handout on food truck businesses!

    • Mel on August 18, 2017 at 3:26 pm
    • Reply

    Im few steps away from getting licensed cfo thanks to this website’s help. Btw, I just want to ask what the scope of direct selling is. is it only pick up from my home and or delivery or can we set a pick up meeting place to hand the goodies? I wanna make sure Ill be doing this right. also is it ok to mail cookies within ca?

    1. Direct selling is when you physically give the product to the customer, whether at your home or elsewhere in the county. Indirect selling is when you sell it to a store (usually wholesale) and they sell it to the customer. Mailing cottage food products is strictly prohibited anywhere and everywhere.

    • Sam on September 10, 2017 at 9:50 pm
    • Reply

    Our kids want to do a home bakery for selling cup cakes to their friends once in a while (say on weekends).

    1. Do we need to register a LLC for this?

    2. If we don’t register a LLC, and there is a food problem, can someone sue us (since the kids are minors) for liabilities?

    3. If we use the CFO, does this mean, they cannot use cream cheese based frosting?

    1. The Cottage food permitting process is really designed for entrepreneurs looking to get started in their own business. If your kids have a hobby making and selling cupcakes to their friends, it is not really covered (they’d have to be adults, too, so you would have to get the permits). If you had a CFO permit, you would not be allowed to use cream cheese frosting. For legal liability, please consult a qualified attorney.

    • Mitali on September 15, 2017 at 9:27 am
    • Reply

    Hi. Your website has been very helpful. However I do have few more questions.
    1) is butter in the approved list? I use it to make buttercream.
    2) do I have to make separate label for each flavor and have it approved?
    3) how long does the entire process take after submitting the application?
    4) what is zoning permit?
    5) do I have to register anywhere else after I register with CFO for my baking business?
    6) I sell different size of cakes and cupcakes – how do I measure the weight? Or what is the alternative to add on the label? (Size? Quantity?)
    Thank you very much.. really appreciated.

    • camille on October 8, 2017 at 12:03 am
    • Reply

    Amazing website! Helps a lot.

    So I really want to sell my vegan baked goods at farmers markets/advertise and sell through social media (in SD county).

    I’m trying to figure out whether or not I’d like to make it in my home kitchen and get a Class A license or a commercial kitchen. I know that this website is for cottage licenses, but I just wanted more clarification.
    If I did rent out a commercial kitchen, I wouldn’t need a Class A license correct?

    Do you know what licenses I would need instead?

    If I baked items out of a commercial kitchen and sold at farmers markets, would they still need the labeling or would I be able to have a set up with my baked goods just out (similar to bakeries where they have a pastry case and they just grab and bag it there). On this topic, with a Class A, would I need to have all the pastries prepackaged already if i’m selling at farmers markets? If I had a friend helping me at farmers markets to sell products, would they need to get a Food Handlers card as well?

    I guess what i’m trying to figure out is if it’s more cost/time efficient for me to rent out a commercial kitchen and save the hassle of making product labels. My end goal is to eventually own a all vegan bakery/cafe, but I wanted to sell and showcase my products before even thinking that far ahead.

    Also! I read that 10 product labels needed approval, would I be able to sell more at markets without having a particular label approved?

    I also read that in San Diego i’d need a Business Tax Certificate. How does that differ from the Business License?

    Okay last question lol. I recently took a Foodhandlers class that was on the preapproved list (here and on the SD webpage). So I now have a Food Handlers Education Certificate. That’s all that I would need for the Class A license correct? The packet for the cottage food license application uses “food processor course” and “food handlers license” almost interchangeably, then there’s the food manager license. I’m just trying to make sure I do the correct courses.

    Thank you again!

      • camille on October 8, 2017 at 12:08 am
      • Reply

      Also, sorry one more question. For Farmers Markets that require the TFF Permit, what additional forms/permits would I need in addition to the Class A?

      If I was working in a commercial kitchen trying to sell at farmers markets, would I be able to just fill out that TFF permit? Would I need a Food Safety Manager Certificate as well?

    • M on December 9, 2017 at 7:40 am
    • Reply

    Are merengue cookies acceptable? Not out of swiss merengue but beaten egg whites and sugar?

    1. The crunchy kinds of meringue cookies are acceptable.

  7. Hi,
    We are starting out with a CFO permit but would like to create an LLC for the same.
    CFO requires the business address to be our home address but everyone recommend s using a non home address to form an LLC
    How can we keep the business address different from home while do our business related cooking at our home?

    • Krystal on July 23, 2018 at 1:12 pm
    • Reply

    If you make cupcakes form the boxes from the store, do you still need to get a class A license? I make cupcakes in a jar but use store bought products?

    • Nayara Carrilho on September 20, 2018 at 10:00 am
    • Reply

    Hi there,

    I want to make and sell homemade organic baby food. Is this included? In which class? And which kind of license should I get? Thank you so much!

    • ernest peterson on September 25, 2018 at 10:38 am
    • Reply

    What is the definition of Savory Snacks? Thank you

    • miranda on October 9, 2018 at 12:13 pm
    • Reply

    Is Swiss Meringue Buttercream not approved b/c it contains raw egg?

    • Robin on December 31, 2018 at 9:16 am
    • Reply

    Thank you for all the information. I apologize if my question is redundant. I noticed you wrote that orange juice is not acceptable at farmers markets? Would this include orange marmalade? If it is allowed, all my oranges come from my own tree and I do not use pectin. Would I be permitted to label it organic and vegan? Thank you in advance. Oh last question, are cooked meats in pies permitted?

    • M on January 15, 2019 at 9:09 pm
    • Reply

    Hi there,
    If I wanted to open a coffee cart does brewed coffee fall under the approved list of foods. I saw roasted beans do, but wasn’t sure about brewed. Also, if I wanted to prepare my own almond milk, oat milk, and other alternative “milk” blends does that fall under cottage foods? I saw but butters on the list, but again not sure about “milks”.
    Thank you! This site has been super helpful.

    • Karina on July 5, 2019 at 11:51 am
    • Reply

    Hi! I am wondering if Oil and vinegar dressings are now on the approved list of foods allowed under the Cottage Food Law. Yes or not, please I need some advice. I want to prepare my homemade dressing made with olive oil, tamari sauce, apple cider vinegar, and spices and sell it at a farmers market, community and directly to consumers. I appreciate in advance our answer.

    • Karina on July 5, 2019 at 11:53 am
    • Reply

    Hi! I am wondering if oil and vinegar dressings are now on the approved list of foods allowed under the Cottage Food Law. Yes or not, please I need some advice. I want to prepare my homemade dressing made with olive oil, tamari sauce, apple cider vinegar, and spices and sell it at a farmers market, community and directly to consumers.

    I appreciate in advance our answer.

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