This post is about the California Cottage Food Law Assembly Bill 1616 and what is needed is for my California readers to take some action and email or call their Senator(s). The bill has already passed out of the house and is now before the Senate Appropriations Committee, so please call or email your Senators and voice or write about how they need to support this potentially new law.
Follow this link to The Sustainable Economies Law Center for some great information and a template letter and or call script, I found it really helpful.
Here is a portion of the letter constructed by The Sustainable Economies Law Center which I found particularly compelling:
AB 1616, similar to the “cottage food laws” in 33 other US states, would allow for the sale of non-potentially hazardous foods prepared in a home kitchen. This would enable individuals to supplement their income during these hard economic times and will provide communities with access to more local, homemade, and specialty foods. Additionally, it will provide opportunities for small-scale farmers to sell value-added products.
Anyone who has looked into the options for renting commercial kitchens knows that they can cost $30 or more per hour, if such kitchens are even available for rent nearby. This is, in part, due to strict requirements for necessary equipment that must be used in commercial kitchens per existing state law. These expenses are unnecessary and prohibitive for aspiring small, community-based food producers making what are scientifically and legally known as “non-potentially hazardous.”
AB1616 makes sound fiscal sense: any expense incurred in enacting and enforcing the law will be largely recouped from the registration and permit fees charged to those who participate in the program and the tax revenue to the state that these small businesses generate will surely exceed the extremely minimal costs to enforcement.
AB 1616 includes many provisions to ensure public health and safety. It restricts the types of foods allowed for processing in a home kitchen to just those known not to be conducive to the growth of bacteria or other toxic microorganisms and it requires cottage food operators to obtain a food handler’s card, meaning they will have the same training for safe food handling as people who work in commercial kitchens.
As a suburban farm trying to support our core values, not having AB 1616 as law is a real impediment to being successful in the long term, not to mention expensive, over-regulated, and cumbersome.