What is a Cottage Food Operation?
A Cottage Food Operation (CFO) is an enterprise at a private home where specific low-risk food products, which do not require refrigeration, are prepared or repackaged for sale. A Cottage Food Operator is an individual who operates a CFO in his or her private home and is the owner of the CFO.
Cottage Food Information
- Approved Foods
- Food Handlers Card
- Water Supply & Sewage
- Other Requirements
- FAQ's on Cottage Food
Before you start the application process, please look over the Approved Food List from the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) and make sure the foods you wish to make are on this list.
Foods containing cream, custard, or meat fillings are considered potentially hazardous and are not allowed. Only foods that are defined as non-potentially hazardous are approved for preparation by a CFO. Non-potentially hazardous foods are items that do not require refrigeration to keep them safe from bacterial growth that could cause food-borne illnesses.
Cottage Food Operators, their employee,s or any household member that is involved in the preparation or packaging of cottage foods shall take on the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) accredited food handlers course. This is required within three months of obtaining applying for a permit.
All Cottage Foods must be properly labeled in accordance with the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. You must complete a Label Review Form with your application that includes all labels for any food that will be prepared at your Cottage Food Facility. For more information on labeling requirements, please look through the application or visit the CDPH Cottage Food Labeling Requirements page.
WaterSupply: If you are on a private water supply like a well, your water must be tested by a State Certified Laboratory for bacteria, Nitrates, Nitrite and flouride. More information can be found on the application.
Sewage: If your facility is on Septic and the system fails, you are required to notify this department immediately.
Before you apply, make sure that the location of your Cottage Food Facility complies with zoning requirements. Please check your local zoning authority's (city or county) planning departments regarding applicable fees.
Cottage Food Operations may not have more than one full-time equivalent employee working at the Cottage Food Facility. This does not include family or household members of the Cottage Food Operator.
Delivery and Sales Limitations
Products must be delivered in person to the customer or retail food facility. CFO products may not be delivered via US Mail, UPS, FedEx, or any other indirect delivery method as this is regulated and subject to CDPH and federal requirements.
Cottage Food Operations are limited to a Gross Annual Sales figure of $75,000 for Class A and $150,000 for Class B for a calendar year. If your CFO exceeds this, it will need to become permitted as a Commercial Food Facility.
Your Application serves as a Permit Application.
Once you pay your fees and the Application has been reviewed and approved by an Environmental Health Specialist, your permit will be issued and you may begin operations.
Before filling out an application, please review the CFO Self Certification Checklist to ensure that you meet all of the above requirements.
Once you have gone through the necessary items, you can apply for a permit.
There are two types of Cottage Food Permits:
- Class A: Direct sales to consumer only . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Annual Permit Fee: $207.40
- Class B: Direct sales and indirect sales to food facilities . . . . . . . . Annual Permit Fee: $414.80
- Cottage Food Water System. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Annual Permit Fee: $207.40
Note: The fees above are for Environmental Health only, other fees may be required by other entities including but not limited to Planning Departments, Fire Departments, Event Coordinators, Business Licences, etc.