Back in September of 2018, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law AB626, an extension of The California Homemade Food Operations Act of 2012. The extension makes it legal for home cooks to sell prepared foods such as stews and frozen dumplings, in addition to jams, candies, and other low-risk foods, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. January 1 marked the first day that home cooks would be allowed to apply to local health departments for permits to sell food, but the wording of AB626 presents challenges. As the news source posited, cooks from the Bay Area may have to wait months, or even years, to file for an application.
Assemblyman Eduardo Garcia, D-Coachella (Riverside County) pioneered The Homemade Food Operations Act, calling it the “widest-reaching cottage food law in the country.” In September, when AB626 was signed into law, Garcia stated that he saw it as an economic opportunity for low-income and immigrant cooks. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the law targets small operations by limiting the amount of money home cooks could gross to $50,000 a year.
The trick to the wording of AB626, however, is that it requires county and city environmental health departments to choose if they want to conduct inspections and issue permits. Opting into the program also requires local boards of supervisors to pass an ordinance.
As counties, such as Marin County, decide to opt out—its Department of Environmental Health—stated that it would consider the program in the next six months.
Where will other counties fall in the new year? Deli Market News will continue to report the latest.