Last month, Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill recognizing and regulating microenterprise home kitchens (MHK), which is also referred to as the cottage food industry. The bill, Assembly Bill 626, defines what qualifies as a MHK and provides several restrictions for enterprising home cooks. A legislative analysis of the bill states that the law is aimed at providing protections and opportunities for members of historically marginalized communities such as immigrants, women, and people of color. AB 626 allows cities and counties to authorize and permit homemade food sales as a new category of “retail food facility.”
AB 626 states that food must be cooked and sold on the same day and restricts the sale of raw oysters by enterprising home cooks. Proprietors can earn no more than $50,000 a year from the enterprise and they can’t have more than one full-time equivalent employee. Before AB 626, California’s Cottage Foods Law allowed for the sale of “non-potentially hazardous foods” such as pies and the law prohibited home kitchens from being used for commercial activities, with narrow exceptions. The bill passed the Assembly floor 66-1, and Senate 36-0. We will have to wait and see how many people actually take advantage of AB 626 and get permits to sell homemade goods.