Gatto’s Closely Watched California Homemade Food Act Signed into Law

Assemblyman Mike Gatto

Assemblyman Mike Gatto’s (D-Los Angeles) Assembly Bill (AB) 1616, the California Homemade Food Act, was signed into law. The California Homemade Food Act legalizes the sale of homemade, “non-potentially hazardous” foods by creating a two-tier system of “cottage food operations” based upon the point of sale. Having captured the imagination of food lovers in California and beyond, AB 1616 was among the most anticipated bills to be considered by the Governor this year.

The Assemblyman made a commitment to helping aspiring micro-entrepreneurs start their businesses by improving access to locally produced, artisan foods after his constituent, Mark Stambler, was shut down by the Los Angeles Department of Environmental Health for selling his homemade, brick-oven breads to a neighborhood cheese shop. “I am proud to have delivered this victory to my constituents and to aspiring business owners throughout the state that are looking for ways to develop their businesses and purchase healthier, more locally produced foods for their families.”

Prior to the California Homemade Food Act, outdated statutes and local ordinances strictly prohibited everyone from home-based, artisanal bread bakers to small-scale, jam and preserve vendors from selling their products. Now, cottage food producers will be permitted to produce and sell every-day foods such as breads, tortillas, dry roasted nuts and legumes, cookies, granola, churros, jams, jellies and other fruit preserves to their communities. Producers choosing to sell directly to consumers will register with the local health department, and those choosing to sell to local retail shops, such as the neighborhood coffee shop or corner store, will be subject to initial inspection and permitting by the local health department. All producers will also be required to complete a food processor course, verify that the home kitchen meets specific standards, and disclose on the product label that the product was made in a home kitchen.

“Providing people with the opportunity to make and sell these foods directly to their neighbors at the local farmer’s market or through the specialty shop up around the corner is a matter of access to opportunity,” said Gatto. “I am happy that the Governor has joined me in my efforts to restore economic activity to our neighborhood economies and to the state of California by allowing people to produce and healthy, nutritious or culturally relevant foods in their homes.”

The California Homemade Food Act is consistent with similar laws of at least 33 other states, none of which have reported a food-borne illness from non-potentially hazardous foods. The legislation contains numerous provisions that will ensure cottage food operations remain small-scale, neighborhood-based activities that respect the importance of public health. More than 6,000 people throughout the state, as well as small and large business, non-profit, and interest organizations such as the Lost Angeles Bread Bakers, the Sustainable Economies Law Center, Whole Foods Market Northern California, the California State Grange and the City of Los Angeles, expressed support to the Governor.

“This is a huge win for food for food makers like Mark, stay-at-home parents, culinary enthusiasts, job seekers and all those who want to know where their foods come,” commented Gatto. “I am proud to have created a legal structure for the safe, in-home production of particular foods that respects the importance of public health but that will spark more economic activity in our local economies and in California.”


Get “Behind the Bill” and hear the story of the California Homemade Food Act in this Assembly Access Video: