As of Jan. 1, certain foods prepared in a home kitchen can be sold at places like farmers markets and grocery stores, according to a new law known as the California Homemade Food Act, or AB 1616. It was signed into law back in September by Gov. Jerry Brown but goes into effect this month.
Until now, all food producers were required to use a commercial kitchen subject to inspection.
Breads, cookies, jams and that family apple pie recipe can now be made at home and then sold directly to consumers. Foods with creams or meats will still have to be prepared in a commercial kitchen, which are inspected regularly by the health department.
The new law also requires such goods to have a label that says “made in a home kitchen.”
Farmers markets will be a likely outlet for entrepreneurs wanting to sell their homemade goods. “Some home kitchen folks will be scrupulous and keep really clean kitchens,” says Catt White, who oversees five farmers markets in San Diego. “But you won’t necessarily know if there is a cat on the counter when they’re cooking or not.”
White says she personally thinks there’s too much regulation in this country, especially compared to places in Europe and Mexico. In an effort to be transparent, all of the vendors accepted into White’s farmers markets, which include the new Public Market in Barrio Logan, will have to advertise if the food being sold was made in a home kitchen.
California may be known as a foodie paradise, but other states have been more active on this front. Thirty-one already have similar cottage food laws on the books.