Prior to 2012, under the California Retail Food Code (CRFC), food sold to consumers was required to be made at an inspected commercial kitchen. When the California Homemade Food Act, known as “cottage food operations”, was enacted in 2013, certain low-risk food products that do not require refrigeration, such as bread, pie, fruit jam, and dried food, could be made in private home kitchens, and sold to consumers under limited conditions.
On September 18, 2018, Governor Brown signed Assembly Bill 626 (AB
626), California Retail Food Code: Microenterprise Home Kitchen
Operations. This bill established a “microenterprise home kitchen
operation (“MEHKO”) as a new category of retail food facility that
Cities or counties have the ability to opt in and authorize a local
MEHKO program. MEHKOs cannot operate or be permitted until
authorization is approved.
|Microenterprise Home Kitchen Operations (MEHKO)|
On September 18, 2018, Assembly Bill 626, California Retail Food Code (CRFC): Microenterprise Home Kitchen Operations (MEHKO), was signed by Governor Brown. This bill amends state law, the California Retail Food Code, and establishes a “microenterprise home kitchen operation” as a new type of retail food facility. Microenterprise Home Kitchen Operations, referred to as MEHKOs, are like a mini restaurant in a private residence operated by the resident.
Effective January 1, 2019, the County or a city in the region will be able to authorize MEHKOs. However, the new law gives a city or county “full discretion” to authorize the MEHKOs in their jurisdiction. Until a county or a city authorizes these types of operations, MEHKOs will not be able to be issued a health permit.
The County of San Diego Department of Environmental Health (DEH) will present options to the County Board of Supervisors for consideration. These options are expected to be considered at a Board of Supervisor hearing on February 13, 2019 regarding the new law; however, hearing dates are tentative and subject to change. Options could include the County authorizing MEHKOs countywide which includes all cities, the County not authorizing MEHKOs, or the County authorizing only in the unincorporated areas and each city deciding whether to authorize MEHKOs in their city. Wherever MEHKOs are authorized, the County will be the permitting jurisdiction for Food Code purposes. Therefore, DEH will monitor whether local cities authorize MEHKOs to operate within that city.
To view upcoming County Board of Supervisor’s meeting dates and agendas, please visit: https://www.sandiegocounty.gov/bos/calendar.html
For questions regarding the new law, please refer to the