- Author: Shermain Hardesty
A two-tier cottage food operator registration and permitting system has been established to be enforced by local county or city environmental health agencies:
1) “Class A” cottage food operators are those operations that sell CFO prepared foods directly to the public (at the home where the cottage food operation is located or at a community event, such as a farmers market); and
2) “Class B” cottage food operators are those operations that sell CFO prepared foods either indirectly through restaurants and stores or both directly to the public as well as indirectly to the public via sale to retail food facilities such as restaurants and markets.
All individuals involved with the CFOs are required to complete a food processor training course within three months of registering. Information about this training is available at:
More information about the qualified foods and the requirements to become a CFO, along with an excellent set of Frequently Asked Questions, are available at the CDPH website, http://www.cdph.ca.gov/programs/Pages/fdbCottageFood.aspx. You may find some surprises on this page, including the following restrictions:
- Delivery -- CFOs are not allowed to mail or ship their shelf-stable products directly to their customers (FAQ #9).
- Direct Sales Restrictions -- Direct sales of cottage foods are limited to their county of origin (where the farmer lives, in the case of farmers who are also CFOs—FAQ #7.)
- Planning and Zoning Restrictions--All CFOs need to obtain approval from their local city or county planning department (FAQ #12).
CCDEH (California Conference of Directors of Environmental Health) is considering proposing a clean-up bill to remedy these unexpected restrictions. If you share these concerns or have others related to CFOs, please email me (email@example.com) so that I can share your input during the next AB1616 Stakeholders Advisory Group conference call./span>