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Permit to Sell Food From Home California

The food business in California is regulated for a number of reasons, not the least of which is public health. The idea that food can be sold to the masses without ensuring safety of the product leaves too much room for problems, widespread sickness and even mortality. Historically, food poisoning has been a problem with commercially sold products for eating, but has not been proven to be a rampant issue in homemade or cottage foods. Regulation helps prevent those problems from being widespread and a major risk for communities. Premier food safety has to be ensured proactively.

Permits and regulation also help protect the members of the food industry that do follow state rules. Sometimes known as a baking license for at home business chefs, it’s not a free service; businesses spend money every day, making sure they are within acceptable practice. Permits are a way to protect industries from other parties that try to cut corners at the expense of both market players’ investment as well as consumer wellbeing.

A permit to sell food from home allows government agencies to track and record which food businesses represent potential risks in certain types of food, as well as generate revenue for the government to continue its compliance operations seeking out bad players. With a solid permitting program, tracking of food businesses can be decentralized down to the local level, and the sharing of information can be used to better apply regulator inspections and guidance to home-based businesses as well as large food corporations.

Every home-based food business in California is required to have a food permit to sell food from home California, approved under state law. This ensures that all responsible market players have identified themselves correctly, making it easier for the government to track versus having to root out problems by searching for them. It’s quite possible for an illegal business to ignore the permitting process, but if they’re caught, the penalties are steep.

The California food handlers card free approach doesn’t require one to have a license on hand like a driver’s license. However, the food handlers license California requirement does require every home business to have their paperwork on file and to be easily produced on request. 

There are some food operations that do not need home permits in California, such as selling unprocessed food like fruit and vegetables (see below regarding farm-grown produce). However, commercial selling may still require a general sellers’ permit.

The California Homemade Food Act

Also known as the Cottage Food Act, the California Home Food Act was passed in 2013 to allow additional sales channels for home-produced products with a notable shelf life and sold commercially. The law laid out the rules under state law and subsequent regulation how food artisans could apply for cottage food license California and permission to operate. The law applies in all 58 counties of the state. So, selling prepackaged food in California made at home is regulated the same statewide. 

In practice, it works to help those with a home bakery license California who want to share their food product at least recover the cost of production. As a result, there is no specific cottage food license Los Angeles, a cottage food license Orange County license, or a Riverside County license. Each county is required to regulate home food production with the same overall principles, but they might have additional regulations on top of the state’s rules.  These laws can protect home businesses from local issues with brick and mortar competitors, a problem that cropped up with local municipal regulation in years past, especially when local markets were monopolized by existing businesses protecting their territory.

Can I Sell Food From Home?

For those asking can I sell food from home, the answer is yes. However, selling prepackaged food online doesn’t just start with the first batch out of the home oven. You need to know which food cannot be sold under the Cottage Food Law, most often restricting foods that can spoil quickly in transit. Clearly dairy, meats and similar are off the list. The foods that are allowable and fine for selling food from home tend to be those that are dried and have a long shelf-life without refrigeration, as well as those that do not change under different environmental conditions, within reason. The foods that don’t meet this criteria are spelled out in the Cottage Food Law California list, both in state law and county regulations.

Finally, for those who aren’t inclined to bake their own treats, you may wonder “do I need a permit or license to sell my homegrown produce in California?” Selling produce directly from the farm, from a farm stand, is allowed without a permit. However, if someone is selling produce at a farmer’s market, then a certified producer certificate is needed from the California Department of Food & Agriculture.

Additional Resources

Cottage Food Law Michigan | Cottage Food Law Wisconsin | Cottage Food Laws Florida | Cottage Food License | Cottage Food Sales Tax | Cottage Industry Laws | Home Food Laws | Laws About Selling Homemade Food | Laws on Selling Food From Home | License to Cook and Sell Food From Home | Microenterprise Home Kitchen Operations | Permit to Sell Food From Home | Permit to Sell Food From Home California | Rules for Selling Food From Home

Understand California's cottage food law rulings and find resources for California home-based food vendors here.

Heather Brookshire

The Cake Whisperer


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