Assembly Bill 1616, the California Homemade Food Act, authored by Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Los Angeles), passed the Assembly Floor by a bipartisan vote of 56-17. The Act, which would allow for the sale of certain homemade, non- hazardous foods by creating a structure for “cottage food operations,” now heads to the Senate.
The Assemblyman made a commitment to help micro-entrepreneurs gain access to these neighborhood-based economic opportunities after his constituent, Mark Stambler, was shut down by the Los Angeles Department of Environmental Health last June for selling homemade bread to a local cheese shop. “I am happy to see this effort move on to the Senate,” said Gatto. “My constituents are clamoring for local, healthy foods and want to buy products made by local small businesses like Mark’s.”
The California Homemade Food Act is consistent with recent chances in the laws of 32 other states. Under AB 1616, foods available for sale would include every-day items such as breads, tortillas, dry roasted nuts and legumes, granola, churros, rice cakes, jams, jellies and other fruit preserves, and cookies. The legislation establishes a two-tier system of operations based upon the point of sale or trade. Producers opting to sell directly to the consumer would be subject to registration with the local health department and the completion of a food handler’s course, while producers opting to sell through a retail outlet, such as the neighborhood coffee shop, would be subject to inspections by the local health department. Both would have labels declaring their products “homemade” and have traceable information.
“Our farmer’s markets and street fairs are flourishing parts of neighborhoods throughout the state. They bring a feeling of community in a modern, impersonal world. If we can promote these interpersonal relationships at a time when people are struggling to supplement their family incomes, by removing unnecessary red tape, then we’ve accomplished something important for both the residents of our state and its small businesses,” Gatto commented.