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 (AB626), 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.
In 2019, Assembly Bill 377 introduced amendments to Microenterprise Home Kitchen Operations (MEHKO) (Assembly Bill 626, 2018). The bill changed the authorizing agency for MEHKOs from an individual jurisdiction to be the governing body of the local enforcement agency. In the San Diego region, the Department of Environmental Health is the local enforcement agency and the governing body is the County Board of Supervisors. To date, MEHKOs have not been authorized in the San Diego region.
AB 377 also added some food safety
provisions for MEHKOs including: requirements for cleaning and
sanitizing of utensils and equipment, oversight by the
facility operator to ensure no cross contamination occurs by
individual in the food preparation areas that are not part of
the MEHKO operation, restrictions to prevent outdoor food
storage, and requirements that any advertising specify that
food was made in a home kitchen. However, the newly enacted
law did not address potential health and foodborne illness
risks, as well as community impacts that could result from the
authorization of a MEHKO program.