Home Kitchen Operations
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 06/10/2021) 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 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.
Microenterprise Home Kitchen Operations (MEHKO)
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.
Effective January 1, 2019, the new law gives a city or county “full discretion” to authorize MEHKOs in their jurisdiction. Until a county or a city authorizes these types of operations, MEHKOs will not be issued a health permit.
AB626 is not currently authorized in San Diego County and no MEHKO permits are being issued at this time.
For more information, contact Joel Wright:
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.
Microenterprise Home Kitchen
Operation (MEHKOs) Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Alcoholic Beverage Control FAQs
(More documents to follow pending city/county program opt in.)
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
San Diego 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