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
was signed into law and introduced amendments to the existing
law pertaining to Microenterprise Home Kitchen Operations
(Assembly Bill 626, 2018). Previously, under AB 626,
individual cities and counties had the ability to opt-in or
opt-out of a program at their discretion. AB 377 changes the
authorizing agency for MEHKOs to only the governing body of
the local enforcement agency. In the San Diego region, the
Department of Environmental Health and Quality, Food and
Housing Division is the local enforcement agency, and the
governing body is the County Board of Supervisors. This bill
does not allow for an individual city jurisdiction to decide
whether to opt-in or opt-out of a program for their own
jurisdiction. 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, placed restrictions on the number of
inspections that can be conducted, and did not address
community impacts that could result from the authorization of
a MEHKO program.
If you have any
questions regarding the new law, please refer to the MEHKO FAQs or
contact Joel Wright at (619) 727-1829 or by email at Joel.Wright@sdcounty.ca.gov.
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list for free updates on MEHKOs.
Food Operations (CFO) |
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
New applicants are required
to submit at least one product label for each food
category sold. The initial fee includes the review of
up to 10 product labels. Once a registration or permit
is issued, operators can add products throughout the
year without prior product label review by the
Department of Environmental Health and Quality (DEHQ).
For those vendors who wish to ensure that all of their
product labels meet the Cottage
Food Labeling Requirements, DEHQ will review
product labels beyond the initial 10 labels or as new
product labels are added throughout the year. The fee
for the optional label review beyond the initial 10
labels will be assessed at our current hourly rate, in
½ hour increments.
Cottage food operators must
ensure that the products they are selling:
- Are listed on the Cottage Food Operations (Approved
Food List - Updated 06/10/2021) as maintained
by the California Department of Public Health.
- Meet the labeling requirements for all products
beyond those reviewed by DEHQ.
specified requirements pursuant to the California
Health & Safety Code related to preparing foods
that are on the approved food list.
Additional fees will apply for investigation of
valid complaints and re-inspections related to
improperly labeled products or unapproved products
offered for sale.
All cottage food operators
are required to:
- Complete a food
processor training course within three months
of approval of the cottage food operation
- Implement sanitary conditions and
labels in accordance with federal and state
- Comply with established gross
annual sales limits.
information from the California Department of
Application Submission |
|Please complete the appropriate
application packet and either submit in person
at our Kearny Mesa Location (5500
Overland Ave. San Diego, CA 92123), or by
NOTE: Please remember to
submit all necessary application information
to avoid delays in the approval process.
to Pay Online |
Online at www.dehqpay.com -
click on the DEHQ tab. If you have any
questions regarding payment
instructions, please contact (858)
NOT submit payment with your
application. Once the application is
approved, DEHQ will send you a
payment invoice with instructions
for making payment.