|Soon to be legal to sell.|
A bit late to report this, but AB 1616, the California Homemade Food Act was signed into law by Governor Brown last week. The bill will allow Californians to produce “non-hazardous foods,” such as such as jams, jellies, bread and honey, in a home kitchen and sell them.
The bill takes effect in January. There is still, however, a lot of work to be done to figure out exactly how local health departments will implement the bill. Many municipalities are short of money, so fees for home kitchen inspections will be an issue. There will be a need to balance costs to county health departments while at the same time not making fees so prohibitively high that home based entrepreneurs will be unable to afford them. Home based businesses, in my opinion, have a great deal of potential to provide employment in what seems to be a recession with no end in sight.
Built into the language of the bill is the requirement that homemade food proprietors take a food safety course that will, most likely, be offered online.
The biggest lesson in this bill for me is how one person can really make a difference. My friend, Mark Stambler, who co-founded the Los Angeles Bread Bakers (LABB) with Teresa Sitz and me, is the main reason this bill got going. Stambler got in trouble for selling his home baked (and excellent) bread at two local markets. Instead of giving up, he got on the phone, enlisting the aid of the Sustainable Economies Law Center (SELC) and our local state Assemblyman, Mike Gatto, Mark organized an (illegal!) bake sale with the LABB which raised several thousand dollars to help support the efforts of SELC.
Facebook, this election year, seems especially clogged with all the latest national political outrages (and my Facebook friends are all over the political spectrum so I hear plenty from all sides). Most of these issues are virtually impossible for an individual to influence. The California Homemade Food Act demonstrates that thinking locally and picking a fight that can be won, can really make a difference.
Correction: the first version of this post had a picture of canned citrus with the caption “soon to be legal to sell.” It seems that whole canned fruit is not on this approved list for this bill. I”m looking into this issue, as canned citrus is considered by the USDA to be a non-hazardous food.