Supervisors OK Plan to Regulate ‘Cottage Food’ Operations

RIVERSIDE – Riverside County health regulators were given a green light today by the Board of Supervisors to draft measures defining how and where ”cottage food” makers can conduct business.

The board voted 5-0 in favor of the environmental health, planning and code enforcement departments to collaborate on rewriting county ordinances that regulate food vendors. All proposed changes will be the subject of public hearings, tentatively set for February.

The county is modifying its health and zoning codes to conform to Assembly Bill 1616, signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown in September.

Under AB 1616, authored by Assemblyman Mike Gatto, D-Burbank. so-called cottage food operations — mainly home-based cooks who sell goods prepared in their own kitchens — are now required to meet a set of standards established by the California Department of Public Health.

Beginning Jan. 1, cottage food operators will be subject to periodic inspections and must be trained and certified in basic food preparation, sanitation and labeling of products.

AB 1616 also prohibits counties or cities from outlawing cottage food operations. Instead, local governments must implement regulations related to zoning and food handling permits.

The Office of County Counsel stated that cottage food makers should be allowed to operate without first obtaining conditional use permits, though they must be ”subject to certain restrictions to maintain the residential character of the home and the neighborhood.”

County officials said all cottage products prepared, packaged and sold to the public must be the ”low-risk” variety, including baked goods, candy, dried fruits and nuts.

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