Cottage Food Operations (CFO)

California Retail Food Code allows the local enforcement agency, Santa Clara County Department of Environmental Health (Department), to permit and inspect Cottage Food Operations (CFO), as applicable. Individuals may obtain a CFO Permit to prepare and/or repackage certain non-potentially hazardous (non-perishable) foods in their private home kitchen and sell or distribute them to the public from their home kitchen.  Requirements include, but are not limited to:

  • Obtaining and maintaining a valid CFO Permit
  • Preparing foods that are on the approved cottage food list
  • Receiving approval of product labels for all cottage food products
  • Completing a food processor training course (food handler card)
  • Following food safety measures
  • Operating within established gross annual sales limits
  • Obtaining Zoning approval by the local authority
    • Proof of zoning approval is not required to be submitted to the Department

List of Approved Cottage Food Operations

Blueberry Muffin

Fee Schedule 

There are two types of CFO: Class A and Class B

CLASS A

CLASS B

  • Direct sales only to the end user within the state.
  • Limited to gross annual sales of $83,614*
  • Not subject to routine home inspections. Additional fees may apply for inspections conducted in response to a consumer complaint or food-borne illness investigation.
  • New Operating Permit Application fee (FP90) required at time of application submittal
  • Annual permit to operate fee (FP40)** required at time of application approval
  • Direct sales and indirect sales (3rd party) allowed within the state.
  • Indirect sales: 
    • The 3rd party retailer must have a valid health permit.
    • A CFO product sold or served by a 3rd party retailer must identify it as made in a home kitchen on their menu or provide the CFO product label to the customer.
  • Limited to gross annual sales of $167,227*
  • One routine home inspection per year.
  • New Operating Permit Application fee (FP90) required at time of application submittal
  • Annual permit to operate fee (FP41)** required at time of application approval

*Effective 1/1/2024. Annually adjusted based on Consumer Price Index.

**A 25% late penalty fee applies for permit renewals if payment is not received by permit expiration date.

Additional time to review revisions, review new product labels after permit issuance, complaint investigations, and follow-up inspections are subject to fees charged at our current hourly rate (FP97)

CFO Permit Application Submittal:

Submit your CFO Permit application packet, including all supporting documentation and payment of the applicable New Operating Permit Application fee (FP90), to the Department.  Applications may be submitted:

  • By mail
  • In person at our office   
  • By email as a single PDF to the Department e-mail address [email protected]
  • The Department will e-mail an invoice for the New Operating Permit Application fee (FP90) and instructions on how to submit an online payment.  

Incomplete applications will be rejected.  Review of your CFO Permit application will not begin until applicable fees are paid in full. Application submittals requiring revisions may be subject to additional fees.  Fees are not refundable or transferable.

When your CFO permit application is ready to be approved, you will be invoiced for the applicable permit fee (FP40 or FP41). Payment must be received prior to permit issuance.

Additional Information:

A CFO is an individual who operates a cottage food operation in his or her private home and is the owner of the cottage food operation.  A CFO Permit will not be issued to a Limited Liability Company (LLC), Corporation (Inc.), Partnership, etc. The Department will not accept a CFO permit application that has an LLC/Inc/partnership on the CFO permit application or product labels.

Advertisements to the public, including through an internet website, social media platform, newspaper, newsletter, or other public announcement, shall include the following:

  • The county of approval
  • Permit number
  • A statement that the food is “Made in a Home Kitchen” or “Repackaged in a Home Kitchen,” as applicable

Cottage food products may be delivered to the customer in person or through a third-party delivery service. Transactions and deliveries are limited to occur within the state.

CFO Permits are valid for one year and not transferrable.  If the operator moves, a new permit is required.

The CFO permit allows cottage food operators to make and sell approved cottage foods from their home kitchen. To sell at an offsite location, such as a community event or certified farmers’ market, additional permits are required.  For more information:

Organic claims (products and ingredients): You must register with the California Department of Food and Agriculture if you identify your product or any ingredients as organic. For more information, visit their website: CDFA - California State Organic Program

Gluten free claims (products and ingredients): Not allowed for CFOs. Use of the gluten free term (or similar) is regulated by FDA and is not allowed for CFOs, even if you use ingredients claiming they are gluten free.

CFOs must ensure they have zoning approval to operate the CFO business from their home kitchen. Proof of zoning approval from your local city jurisdiction is not required to be submitted with your CFO permit application. This does not negate the requirement for CFOs to obtain zoning approval from their local city jurisdiction. Contact your local city office for correct CFO zoning approval requirements. 

Microenterprise Home Kitchen Operation (MEHKO)

A MEHKO may prepare, cook, and serve potentially hazardous foods (i.e., meat, poultry, rice, pasta, eggs, cooked vegetables, etc.) to customers. There are some differences in the requirements and limitations of these two types of permits.  One significant difference is that MEHKOs may not prepare any food in advance; they must prepare and deliver the food products the same day.  In addition, MEHKOs may not operate at a temporary event or certified farmers' market. A residence may only have one CFO or one MEHKO.  For more information see the What are the Differences?  CFO and MEHKO document and visit the MEHKO website.

Application and Documents

REVISED: Cottage Food Operation Permit Application and Self-Certification Checklist

NEW:  What are the Differences?  CFO and MEHKO

Affidavit for a Veteran’s Exemption

CDPH Labeling Requirements for Cottage Food Products

Related Items

©2024 County of Santa Clara. All rights reserved.