California’s Cottage Food Bill

Banana Bread

Cottage Food

The cottage food movement is really starting to catch on! It seems like state after state is introducing legislation allowing people to produce food for sale in their home kitchens. The most recent state to introduce a cottage food bill? California!

When bread-maker Mark Stambler ran into legal woes selling his homemade bread in stores, he decided that it was time to fix the law. Stambler, who co-founded the Los Angeles Bread Bakers, teamed up with the organization, a local law service, and a local community garden to write the California Homemade Food Act. Assemblyman Mike Gatto read about Stambler’s project and offered to introduce the act to the California State Assembly.

This is a cottage food bill written by cottage food producers, and it seems pretty reasonable to me! The bill applies to “non-hazardous foods,” like jams, jellies, and breads. Here’s what registered cottage kitchens would need to do under the new bill:

  • No routine inspections. Cottage food operations would only be inspected if there was a consumer complaint.
  • Keep it clean. The bill sets the bar for sanitation requirements, like keeping kids and pets out of the kitchen, cleaning utensils and surfaces, and not working when you’re contagious.
  • Labeling your food. Food labels would need to comply with the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.

One other hurdle for cottage food operations in California is local zoning law. In many areas, zoning laws prohibit cottage kitchens, and this bill would overrule that. The bill also gives the State Public Health Department the power to further regulate cottage kitchens, including enacting “reasonable fees,” but the Health Department would not be able to make routine inspections mandatory.

The California Homemade Food ActΒ is going before committee sometime in March. What do you guys think about cottage food? Do you buy food that’s made in home kitchens?

Source: Food Safety News

{Image Credit: Creative Commons photo by annalibera}


  1. Erika

    As a home baker I would love this bill to pass. I unfortunately don’t have $100,000 laying around to invest into a commercial bakery so this bill would allow me to sell my home baked goods to make extra money to hopefully one day be in a position to open a bakery. I see this as a gateway to give the little guy an opportunity to grow! I’m all for the Cottage Food Law! And frankly I would much more prefer buying from someone small & local then all those huge national food chains any day of the week! :)

    1. Becky Striepe

      Amen to supporting the little guy. With all of the food recalls we’re seeing lately, I think it’s pretty clear that bigger doesn’t mean safer or cleaner when it comes to food operations.

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