Home Kitchen Operations

home kitchen

 

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 and required a program to be approved by local jurisdictions prior to MEHKOs being able to operate or be permitted. 
 

 Microenterprise Home Kitchen Operations (MEHKO)


On January 26, 2022, the County Board of Supervisors took action to adopt a local ordinance to temporarily authorize MEHKOs throughout the San Diego region for two years. On February 25, 2022, DEHQ will start to accept MEHKO applications and work with home cooks to review their standard operating procedures, menus, and compliance with the California Retail Food Code.  

In preparation for the start of this new program, to provide assistance in completing the necessary applications, and to help operators understand the allowances of a MEHKO operation, a training workshop was held on February 15, 2022. For more information, please view our training workshop videos in English (Arabic, Mandarin, Filipino, Spanish and Vietnamese pending).

Sign Up for Future MEHKO Updates - add your email to our govdelivery subscriber list.

For questions regarding the meetings, contact DEHQ directly at FHDMEHKO@sdcounty.ca.gov

 MEHKO Forms and Applications


Health Permit Application

Standard Operating Procedures

Fee Schedule

 MEHKO Documents and Resources

 

MEHKO Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)English | Spanish

MEHKO Quick FactsEnglish | Spanish

MEHKO Startup ChecklistEnglish | Spanish

MEHKO Self Inspection ChecklistEnglish | Spanish

Home Kitchen Operation Resources:

Good Neighbor TipsEnglish | Arabic | Filipino | Mandarin-ChineseSpanish | Vietnamese

Zoning Requirements: Permit/License Requirements from your City of Residence

Food Waste Newsletter - Department of Public Works: Residential Food Waste Reduction

Food Donations: Too Good to Waste PDF

Alcoholic Beverage Control FAQs

California Department of Public Health FAQs – MEHKO and CFO Operations

California Retail Food Code Sections - MEHKOs

San Diego County Library - Resources for Selling Food From Your Home

 Cottage 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 limited conditions.

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 12/06/2021) as maintained by the California Department of Public Health.
  • Meet the labeling requirements for all products beyond those reviewed by DEHQ.
  • Meet 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 (CFO).
  • Implement sanitary conditions and maintain food labels in accordance with federal and state regulations.
  • Comply with established gross annual sales limits.

Get additional information from the California Department of Public Health.
 

 CFO 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 email  FHDCottageFood@sdcounty.ca.gov 

NOTE: Please remember to submit all necessary application information to avoid delays in the approval process.

 How to Pay Online


Pay Online
 
at www.dehqpay.com - click on the DEHQ tab. If you have any questions regarding payment instructions, please contact (858) 505-6900.

Please DO NOT submit payment with your application. Once the application is approved, DEHQ will send you a payment invoice with instructions for making payment.

 Documents and Resources


Fillable documents may not work in all browsers. To ensure proper functionality of the fillable PDF application packets, please download the PDF to your computer prior to filling it out. Ensure you have the most updated version of Adobe Acrobat. Once completed, email the documents to
FHDCottageFood@sdcounty.ca.gov

Do You Qualify as a Cottage Food Operation?: Flow Chart Screening
Application Submittal Requirements Checklist
Class A CFO Registration Full Packet  |  Application Only
Class B CFO Permit Full Packet  |  Application Only
Class B Pre-Inspection Checklist
Cottage Food Operation Inspection Report
Label Requirements Guidance Document
Label Requirements for Allergens
Additional Label Submittal Application
Home Kitchen Operation Resources
Cottage Food Potable Water Requirements
San Diego County Cottage Food FAQs
Training Options:   State Food Processor Course    or    San Diego County Approved Courses
Zoning Requirements:   Permit/License Requirements from your City of Residence

California Department of Public Health: Cottage Food Operations (Approved Food List)
California Cottage Food FAQs
Cottage Food Law: California Health & Safety Code §114365-§114365.6