Home canners, picklers, jammers and sauciers, rejoice. On January 1, California joined 32 other states by passing AB 1616, the Homemade Food Act. The law, pushed forward by Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Los Angeles), allows people to register themselves as "cottage food operators," (CFOs) and, after a few other pieces of paperwork, sell certain approved home-made food items to the public.
There are two types of permits one may apply for under AB 1616.
A "Class A" CFO is allowed to sell approved products produced in LA county directly to consumers in LA county (via temporary events, a farmers' market stall or a bake sale, for example) after they:
1. Register with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health and pay a $65 fee via check or in person (online payments are not accepted at this time).
2. Submit a self-certification compliance checklist
"Class A" permits do not allow individuals to sell their approved food products to retailers; no wholesale sales are allowed.
Meanwhile, "Class B" CFOs are allowed to sell their products both directly to the consumer (again, only in LA County) and to retailers, restaurants or food truck operators. Those interested in qualifying for a "Class B" permit must:
1. Register and pay for a permit from Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. This permit costs $194.
2. Have their home kitchen inspected and approved by an inspector from the Department of Public Health.
All applicants must take a food safety class and pass an exam certifying their knowledge of food borne disease, food safety concerns and best practices.
A bummer for those looking to bank on grandma's famous peach jam or dad's secret sauce: cottage food permit holders cannot earn more than $35,000 this year, though by 2015, that cap on revenue will rise to $50,000.
See the Los Angeles Department of Public Health website for a complete guide and links to the required applications and forms, complete information and instructions. How soon until homemade jam appears on restaurant menus? The Department of Public Health says they are currently processing applications for "Class A" permits, but it may be weeks until they begin inspecting home kitchens.