New for San Diego CFOs in 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CFO profitsEarn More!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Skip to comment form

  1. Hello,

    I have a current permit with the County’s Cottage Food Operations. I have been asked to sell my product at a local store. Do you have a resource to help me with the Nutrition Facts label? Also, I believe I have to get the UPC Bar Code at GS1 Am I right?

    1. Hopefully you have a Class B permit which will allow you to sell wholesale to a store to resell your product. Class A permit holders can only sell directly to consumers. There are several places that have online nutrition analyses. We like because you can easily print it onto a label, but others exist such as and However, you are NOT REQUIRED to have a nutrition label unless you use certain prohibited words (see posts on LABELS). Similarly, you do not need a UPC code unless the store itself requires such.

      1. Thank you for taking the time to answer my question. I have a Class B license, enabling me to sell at stores. The website is very helpful. I appreciate your attention.
        Have a nice day.

    • padma on June 1, 2016 at 4:34 am
    • Reply

    I am in sandiego, 92126. I want to get “A” type food license. Can you guide me step by step all requirements to start this business? Where shall I go first and whom shall i contact? when shall i attend the course? I am completely blank. Your help is very very useful to me.

    1. See our post and website links on GETTING STARTED

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.