On May 3, 2022, the County of Santa Clara Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the exploratory process for adopting an ordinance that permits Microenterprise Home Kitchen Operations (MEHKO) throughout the County. The proposed 3-year temporary program will authorize community members to prepare, cook, and sell food from their private home kitchen. The Department of Environmental Health (DEH) expects to begin accepting the first applications in 2023. Please check this website frequently for updates on MEHKO program developments and estimated timelines.
MEHKO Exploratory Process and Next Steps
DEH is currently reviewing internal resources and tentatively expects to present a request to the Board of Supervisors at its meeting on August 30, 2022 for additional funding to support the MEHKO program implementation.
If Board approval is granted, DEH will begin coordinating with the 15 cities and relevant County departments in September 2022.
Community outreach is estimated to occur December 2022 through January 2023. There will be opportunities to provide feedback regarding the MEHKO program process during outreach events. Please be sure to check this website frequently for information updates.
After outreach efforts have concluded, DEH will, submit to the Board for final adoption. DEH anticipates presenting to the Board in March 2023, or earlier depending on the feedback regarding the program’s process received from stakeholders.
Following the adoption of the MEHKOs ordinance our office will begin accepting and processing applications and providing training to interested community members.
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For more information about MEHKOs please see below:
Microenterprise Home Kitchen Operations (MEHKO)
California Assembly Bill 377 (AB 377) was chaptered in October 2019 to make minor changes to the original California Assembly Bill 626 (AB 626) to provide more regulatory clarity.
With the passage of AB 626 “microenterprise home kitchen operation” (MEHKO) was established as a new category of a retail food facility. MEHKOs are restaurants in a private residence operated by the resident and allowed to produce a very broad variety of complex food products.
MEHKOs have several restrictions. For example, MEHKOs may only sell food from the permitted residence and not to other businesses; or the resident or their employee can deliver the food to the buyer.
MEHKOs are not allowed to:
- Produce/sell raw milk or raw milk products.
- Sell or serve raw oysters.
- Conduct processes that require a Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP) plan such as sous vide cooking, vacuum packaging perishable food, and similar complex food processing.
- Make ice cream or other dairy products.
- Serve alcohol or food which contains alcohol without an appropriate license from the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC). Apply for license at https://www.abc.ca.gov/licensing/apply-for-a-new-license/