New law allows some food businesses in homes
The California Homemade Food Act was a homecoming gift for a Golden State native who moved back recently after 20 years in Oklahoma.
Jerri Kehoe is the first person to be registered in Yuba County to operate a cottage food business since the passage of AB 1616.
The California Homemade Food Act authored by Assemblyman Mike Gatto, D-Silver Lake, was signed by Gov. Jerry Brown in September and came into effect at the beginning of the year. It allows for businesses in private homes where low-risk food products are prepared or packaged for sale to consumers.
"When I moved out here, I found out that I didn't need a certified kitchen and could do the cottage food industry," Kehoe said. "That was better."
Kehoe moved to Brownsville eight months ago and lives with her husband in a home built by his grandparents. She is the proprietor of Windancer Herbs, a business making personal care products such as herbal ointments, bubble baths and soaps.
Kehoe said that, for her food cottage venture, she'll be producing a line of herbal vinegars and mustards, and will also be doing some baked goods.
"I grow all the herbs myself," Kehoe said.
Yuba County Senior Environmental Health Specialist Jesse Kang said that, along with the county's first registrant, there are six other local candidates who are serious about starting a business.
"Basically, the question is how to do it," Kang said. "Because it's such a new thing, they really don't know how to do it."
One of the main concerns in the permitting process is water, Kang said. The registration form asks people if their water supply is public or private. If it's the latter, applicants must conduct a water test and provide the results to the county.
"If you're up in the hills, you're restricted because of water testing. There might be a limit on your septic," Kang said.
Registrants choose whether they'd like to be in Class A for direct sales only, or Class B, for direct and indirect sales. Class B allows for items to be sold at a store.
People who are registered for a cottage food business will have some fees, for paperwork along with possible inspections for those in Class B.
"I expect more people will come forward," Kang said. "If someone sees the opportunity, they'd probably like to grab it."
Sutter County has not yet received any applications for cottage food business permits.
CONTACT Laura van der Meer at lvandermeer@appeal democrat.com or 749-4771. Find her on Facebook at /ADlvandermeer or on Twitter at @ADlvandermeer.