Cottage Food Operations

 

The laws and regulations below are subject to change. Check the SLO County website for the most recent information.  Published: Nov. 2017​

Cottage Kitchen Laws

Not sure if you need a commercial kitchen for your food business? Click here to learn more about Commercial / Commissary Kitchens.

 

What are they: A Cottage Food Operation is an enterprise in a private home where specific food products can be made or repackaged for sale to consumers. These laws allow new food businesses to use their own home kitchen to produce and sell their product.

Who is eligible: Anyone in San Luis Obispo County producing approved food products, and generating less than $50,000 in gross annual sales.

Class A vs. B: Individuals applying for the Cottage Food Laws may choose to be under a Class A registration or Class B permit. The Class A registration is for those who are only selling directly to consumers, while those looking to sell wholesale to a retailer must apply for a Class B permit.

Deciding which to apply for: You can always switch from an A to a B to give your self time to get established, and ensure that your kitchen is up to code. But it is also helpful to consider some of the benefits and drawbacks of both.

  • A Class A registration is less expensive and slightly easier to apply for, but it restricts the producer to direct sales.
  • Class A Registration costs $318 annually.
  • In contrast, a Class B permit takes a little longer to obtain, includes initial and annual inspections of the home, and costs more.
  • However, with the permit you are able to sell to any third-party retailer in the county, as well as retailers within the state when the local environmental health agency of the outside county allows it.
  • Class B Permit costs $633 annually.

Approved Food Products List:

  1. Baked goods without cream, custard, or meat fillings
  2. Candies, confections, and chocolate-covered nuts and dried fruit.
  3. Dried fruit, nuts, granola, cereals, and trail mixes.
  4. Dried pasta, dried baking mixes, and dried or vegetarian-based soup mixes.
  5. Fruit pies, donuts, waffles, and candied apples
  6. Jams, jellies, preserves, honey, and sorghum syrup.
  7. Popcorn and vegetable and potato chips.
  8. Roasted coffee and dried tea.
  9. Vinegar, mustard, herb blends
  10. Buttercream frosting, icing, and fondant that do not contain eggs, cream, or cheese.
  11. Products made not be made if they require refrigeration, contain meat, or are acidic (such as hot sauces.)

*The above list is an incomplete version of all approved food products by the county, and is subject to change. Please check the below link for the most accurate information:

http://www.slocounty.ca.gov/Departments/Health-Agency/Public-Health/Environmental-Health/Forms-Documents/Reference-Materials/Food-Program-Reference-Documents/Cottage-Food-Operations-Reference-Materials/Requirements-for-Cottage-Food-Operator.aspx

Regulations on the Kitchen:

  • The city planning department allows for modifications to the home kitchen if new owners would be able to move in and use the kitchen for normal day to day cooking.
  • Smoking, infants, small children, and pets are not allowed in the home kitchen during preparation, packaging, or handling of food products.
  • Class B Operations may be inspected once a year.

*Again refer to the below link for all regulations and restrictions.

Tips from a Cottage Kitchen Cook: “Always be kind and do things the right way. It pays off!” – Jeneane Nicodemus (Sugar Momma Pies)

Other FAQs

What is a Co-Packer: If your food business can’t make enough product co-packers can be contracted out to manufacture more using your own recipe. Typically this happens when their is a spike in demand, and the co-packer has to prove they can make the same product and inexpensively.

What farmers markets can I sell at with a cottage kitchen license: Most farmers markets in SLO county DO allow for vendors using the cottage food laws. However, check out the PDF below for a complete list of which ones do and which don’t.

PDF – Cottage Food Laws by SLO County Farmers Market

Color Key for above document:

GREEN – Cottage food products allowed

RED – Must be produced in a commercial kitchen

YELLOW – Undetermined

What is meant by “direct sale” of cottage food: “Direct sales” are a transaction between a Cottage Food Operator (CFO) operator and a consumer, where the consumer purchases the cottage food product directly from the CFO.  These include transactions at temporary events, farm stands, certified farmers’ markets, community-supported agriculture subscriptions, and other direct transactions.

What is meant by “indirect sale” of cottage food: “Indirect sale” occur between CFO, a third-party retailer, and a consumer, where the consumer purchases cottage food products made by the CFO from a third-party retailer that holds a valid permit. Indirect sales include, sales made to retail food facilities including markets, restaurants, bakeries, and delis.

What are limitations on Internet sales and delivery of cottage food products: A CFO may advertise and accept orders and payments via the internet or phone. However, a CFO must deliver (in person) to the customer. A CFO may not deliver products via Mail or out of state. Additionally, CFO’s can only sell cottage foods outside their county of residence only when the local environmental health agency of the outside county allows it.

Helpful Links

SLO County cottage food laws: http://www.slocounty.ca.gov/Departments/Health-Agency/Public-Health/Environmental-Health/All-Environmental-Health-Services/Cottage-Food-Operation-Registration-or-Permit.aspx

Licensing fees: http://www.slocounty.ca.gov/Departments/Health-Agency/Public-Health/Environmental-Health/Forms-Documents/FEES.aspx 

Approved cottage foods: http://www.slocounty.ca.gov/Departments/Health-Agency/Public-Health/Environmental-Health/Forms-Documents/Reference-Materials/Food-Program-Reference-Documents/Cottage-Food-Operations-Reference-Materials/Requirements-for-Cottage-Food-Operator.aspx

Are you a food entrepreneur looking to speak with others who have been through this process? Why recreate the wheel? See the Entrepreneur Advice Resource List below and get in contact:

Entrepreneur Advice Resource List


The county and city departments are great about answering any other questions you may have. If you have any questions regarding available kitchen space, or the process of starting up a food business contact us at info@SlowMoneySLO.org

 Posted by at 10:00 am