Start Your Ovens: California Homemade Food Act In Effect

Baked goods

On January 1, 2013, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law the Homemade Food Act, making it the latest state—and largest—with a cottage food law, allowing foods and beverages prepared in home kitchens to be sold for profit.

The Homemade Food Act (PDF) comes when many Californians are still struggling with unemployment or low-wage jobs, empowering them to boost their income with homemade foods considered “non-potentially hazardous.”

Limited to the home kitchen, the law permits for one employee outside of the immediate family to assist in production and distribution. Homemade food producers will need permits, and potentially hazardous foods that require temperature control for safety, such as those containing meat, custard or cream, are not allowed per the law. There are two classes to the law:

“Class A” means the seller can only sell their foods directly to the consumer—either at home or at temporary events including the states hundreds of community farmers markets and farm stands. They must be registered via a self-certification compliance checklist.

“Class B” allows for indirect sales, such as sales to restaurants and retail food outlets with their own food handling permits. These sales must occur within the same county as where they’re produced unless adjoining counties have agreements otherwise.

California joins more than 25 other states that allow cottage food production, and state officials estimate individual producers can make up to $35,000 in gross sales in 2013, rising to $50,000 in 2015.

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Image: Gabriel Li

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Jill Ettinger

Jill Ettinger is a Los Angeles-based journalist and editor focused on the global food system and how it intersects with our cultural traditions, diet preferences, health, and politics. She is the senior editor for sister websites and, and works as a research associate and editor with the Cornucopia Institute, the organic industry watchdog group. Jill has been featured in The Huffington Post, MTV, Reality Sandwich, and Eat Drink Better.