It has been just over a year since the implementation of AB1616 which spawned a California Cottage Food industry. Now, entrepreneurial foodies can start a business making certain foods at home for sale to the public. Last year was a year of growth and learning for everyone. Some updates and refinements have been made. What’s new for 2014?
Here’s a summary of what we saw changed when we went to renew…
Website Information: The San Diego County Health Department now has a page on their website specifically devoted to Cottage Food Operations (CFOs). You will find links to the most current regulations and applications on our RESOURCES page or posted here.
Applications must be submitted in person at the Kearny Mesa office of the San Diego Dept. Environmental Health by the person(s) applying for the permit. Application forms have been updated during the year. Links are available on our RESOURCES page or posted here
- Generally, the application packet and labels can be reviewed over the counter when you come in, but if there are more than ten labels, the application may be taken and labels reviewed within 5 working days. Meaning you will have to make a second trip.
- Debit and credit cards are now accepted for CFO application fees.
- The San Diego Health Department no longer previews labels which are faxed or emailed in. They have provided a sample with instructions here.
- Sample labels for all items and flavors must be submitted with the complete application. They prefer that the labels be printed on paper for review, rather than actual labels. The design and information should be essentially 100% finished, though subsequent changes to logo or graphics is permitted.
Important!A word to the wise on labels. For your first year, try to keep it simple. Focus on a few items or flavors that you make very well—your best sellers. You will need to provide a separate label for every item, and every flavor since the ingredients will vary slightly. If you have more labels than can be reviewed with the application in an hour, it will cost an additional $142/hr to review them. There is no partial hour billing. Be aware that if you want to add an item or additional flavor after your permit is issued, it will cost a minimum of $142 to review the label and add to your permit. Think about the number of items and flavors you need your first year. Balance that with the number of labels you will need to submit. The best advice I got was, “K.I.S.S… Keep it Simple, Sandie.” Build on your core products the next year.
- Ingredients can now be listed on a secondary label so you don’t have to jam everything on the primary label!
- Calling your product “Organic” in its title or product description is not allowed unless you have it certified as such. However, if it has at least 70% organic ingredients, you can say, “Made with Organic Ingredients.” In any case, you can list individual ingredients where appropriate (i.e. organic oats, or organic peanuts, etc.)
- The words “Made in a Home Kitchen” must appear alone in 12 point type (i.e, not Made in a Home Kitchen with Love, etc.)
- In addition to the Permit Number, these words must appear: Cottage Food Registration/Permit Issued by: County of San Diego DEH-FHD
- Permits are good until the end of the month one year from the date they were issued. At present, there does not seem to be a penalty for late renewals, but you should not do sales if your permit is not renewed beyond the expiration date.
- If you get a Permit A ($142) and decide a few months later that you want a Permit B so others can sell your items, you will have to apply for Permit B and pay the full $284. The Permit B will be good for one full year from date of issue, but you will not get credit for any remaining time or money from Permit A.
Important!You can sell your approved products at Farmer’s Markets with an A permit, but you will need a B permit if you want to provide samples.
- Before applying, carefully consider your budget and sales strategy, and whether or not you really want or need the B permit.
Class B inspections are being scheduled within 5 business days of the application being approved. Unlike earlier, the CFO may not begin operation until this inspection is complete.
California’s state health department recently developed a procedure for citizens to request that specific foods be added to the Approved CFO Food List. You can find information on the steps and deadlines in our post, “Amending the Approved Food List.”
There are still some questions about what frostings will be approved. Presently in San Diego, most butter cream or cream cheese frostings are not accepted. Nearly all commercially processed frostings are acceptable. For more information, contact the San Diego Department of Environmental Health Food and Housing Duty Specialist at (858) 505-6900 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
OVERALL, it has been a good first year, with over 1200 permits issued statewide as of mid February 2014. And kudos to you cooks, bakers, candy makers, et al. – Last year there were no reported cases of food poisoning across California from these types of businesses.
Let’s make 2014 a banner year for CFO’s in San Diego County!