Granola makers, homemade vinegar producers, and other foodies in California have cause to rejoice today. As of Jan. 1, a new state law allows people who make food at home to sell it to restaurants and grocery stores.
Leave it to California to upend decades of public health consensus that food businesses need commercial licenses to ensure their food is safe and free of harmful contaminants. The California Homemade Food Act creates a new category of food production called a “cottage food operation.”
To qualify for a state permit under the law, aspiring cottage food operators must attend a food safety class and pass an exam developed by the California Department of Public Health. They have to label their products, pay a small fee, and submit to an annual kitchen inspection by health officials. Like commercial enterprises, the food producers aren’t allowed to smoke or keep pets in the kitchen. When you consider the slim margins most commercial food businesses operate on, this streamlined regulatory process is probably a good deal for food sellers.
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