Home Kitchen Operations

Cottage Food - Cookies

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:

  (619) 727-1829




  (858) 505-6900