Passing Inspection for Class B CFO Permit

Slinky inspector says yup all to code - where's my food bribe?All Class B CFOs must have their kitchens inspected annually in order to receive their permit. Wondering how to pass your Inspection? Cottage Foods Sandie has some tips and insights to make sure there are no hidden surprises!

The main point of the inspection is to ensure that the public health is protected. That means checking that you have proper sanitation, safe food handling and storage procedures, and that the risk of contamination is minimized as much as possible.

To get an idea of what inspectors will look for, study the Self-Inspection Checklist required for Class A permit holders. When your inspection is scheduled, make sure your operation meets those guidelines. Get set up as if you were ready to begin making your product. Then, be prepared to walk the inspectors through your process, from start to finish. Though you won’t be expected to actually make the product, it will give them a clear picture of your operation.


Prepare your sanitizing solution in advance. The cheapest and easiest solution to use for surfaces and utensils is approximately a tablespoon of household bleach per gallon of water. The water should be warm, not hot. Hot water will reduce the effectiveness. If you have sanitizing test strips, the solution should be between 100-200 ppm.  Cottage Foods Sandie uses a large shallow plastic bin in which her cooking utensils and baking pans can be submerged.

Pour out some of the solution into a small container for use sanitizing working surfaces. After washing and rinsing counters and working surfaces, sanitized with the chlorine solution.

The chlorine solution will looses effectiveness as it contacts organic material. Therefore your utensils must first be washed, then rinsed, before being sanitized and air dried. Be prepared to show inspectors how you sanitize working surfaces before cooking and how you wash, rinse, sanitize, and air dry cooking utensils after use.

Utensils should be in contact with the solution for 30 seconds or more before shaking off excess sanitizer and being allowed to air dry.


  • Handwashing water must be at least 110 degrees F. If you are on a public system, you won’t need to have the water tested for bacteria or contaminants. If you have a well or private water supply, the water will have to be tested, but you probably did it prior to submitting your application.
  • Be sure your bathroom (or whatever hand washing area you have in addition to the kitchen) has soap, hot water and clean towels for hand drying. The kitchen should have either paper towels (preferred) or hand towels to dry your hands. Know how to wash your hands (lathering hands, wrists, arms) and when you should wash them. Know when you need to wear gloves.

Food handling and packaging

Plan to talk the inspectors through your product preparation, showing them your utensils, where you store your ingredients, and how you package the food. Having packaged, labeled samples on hand for inspection is recommended by Cottage Foods Sandie. If there are any questions or issues, they can be clarified then. It just makes it easier in the long run!

baby gatePreventing Contamination

  • All pets, children, and smoking materials should be removed from the kitchen prior to the inspection. Activities such as smoking, eating, or household chores (laundry, meal preparation, diaper changing, …) must occur apart from the cottage food operation (preparation, packaging, storing). Have animals and children separated as you would if you were actually working, before the inspectors arrive.
  • Ingredients and product must be stored within the home (not in a garage, storage shed, porch, etc.), where it is safe from rodents, insects, and animals. Cottage Foods Sandie uses different plastic bins with lids available from Target or Walmart to keep all nonperishable items (ingredients, utensils, packaging, final product, etc.) safe from harm and separate from everyday use.

Assuming that you know and follow safe food handling practices and can adequately separate the preparation, handling, packaging and storage of your Cottage Food products from everyday domestic activities, passing inspection for your San Diego Class B CFO permit should be no problem at all!  Remember to get your food handler’s certification within 90 days of being permitted.

See, easy as pie!



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    • Sara on May 10, 2013 at 2:09 pm
    • Reply

    This is so incredibly helpful!! I’ve been searching trying to piece all of this info together and your other article on getting the permit was exactly what I needed. Thank you!!

    1. Thank you, thank you, thank you! You are very encouraging 🙂

    • Bridget on May 22, 2013 at 9:51 pm
    • Reply

    Hi I have a couple of questions about the inspection process actually so many Im going to break it down. My first is i got a class B licence so I assuming we follow your hyperlink for the A even if where getting a B

    1. Yes, using the guidelines for Class A permits lets you see most of the things that you should have in place.

    • C on July 18, 2013 at 1:43 pm
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    We are local bee keepers and we process honey in our garage. Since we do not cook anything and the extracting equipment we use get the honey from the comb is too large for our kitchen to be practical, are there exceptions to the rule about not being able to use the garage?

    1. You could ask the San Diego Health Department. We are not aware of any exceptions. According to AB1616 the permitted area must be “the portion of a private home that contains the private home’s kitchen . . . and attached rooms within the home that are used exclusively for storage.” Let us know if you find out differently. Certainly there should be exceptions for honey since you wouldn’t be expected to bring the comb into the kitchen!

    • Hana on October 22, 2013 at 12:43 pm
    • Reply

    Hi there,

    Your website has been incredibly helpfully, so thank you for that. Regarding sanitation: Are there any other acceptable solutions that do not contain bleach? I have allergies to it and typically use the Seventh Generation sanitation spray for surfaces.


    1. According to the San Diego Health Department publication, after washing with hot soapy water and being thorough rinsed, dishes and utensils can be sanitized by either
      – Contact for 30 seconds with 180ºF water, or
      – Contact for 30 seconds with a warm water solution of 100 parts per million (ppm) chlorine, or
      – Contact for 60 seconds with a warm solution of200 ppm quaternary ammonium, or
      – Contact for 60 seconds with a warm water solution of 25 ppm iodine.
      and allowed to AIR DRY.
      Use chemical test strips often to make sure the sanitizer level is correct.

    • Chris on June 2, 2014 at 8:07 am
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    Is it OK to store ingredients and final packaged products in a spare room within the home, like an otherwise unused bedroom or office? What are the requirements for the room? My actual kitchen is teeny tiny and I need alternatives for storage that still fit within the parameters of the permit. Thanks so much, your website is incredibly helpful!

    • martha on December 20, 2014 at 8:21 pm
    • Reply

    Hello from Poway,
    Your site has been very helpful to me. I would like to know if I’m going to apply for the class A permit will I also get inspected too? Thanks in advance T

    1. Class A permit holders must agree to and aign an agreement to abide by certain sanitary and storage conditions, but are not kitchens are not inspected unless there is a health department complaint.

    • Leon on June 15, 2015 at 3:16 pm
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    Thank you so much for this information. I have one more question. Will the inspector be looking at my entire house, or just the kitchen, dining room where I will be preparing and packaging my food product? You mention in your tips to make sure the bathroom/handwashing area other than the kitchen has soap and clean towels, so I am wondering how much of the house will be walked through.


    1. The kitchen, the bathroom (because you must have an alternative hand washing place if kitchen sink were to be unusable) and your packaging/storage area. Best to have paper towels for kitchen and bathroom. For the inspection, I usually set up the kitchen as if I were about to prepare my item(s).

    • Selina on January 3, 2016 at 6:45 pm
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    I live in a small apartment. Not sure I understood this part :
    Activities such as smoking, eating, or household chores (laundry, meal preparation, diaper changing, …) must occur apart from the cottage food operation (preparation, packaging, storing).
    I live in a small apartment with one kitchen, how would this be possible? Or do you mean not at the same time?

    • sandy on April 12, 2017 at 1:04 pm
    • Reply

    about how much is a class B license for CFO ?

    1. Currently, initial Class B CFO permits in San Diego county are $284. They will probably be increasing on July 1, 2017 to over $400. See our facebook page or current web page for more details. Please contact your County Supervisor to communicate your preference on proposed fee increases.

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