Foodborne diseases are a major cause of illnesses throughout the world. There are approximately 76 million foodborne illnesses each year in the United States. In California, food safety is regulated by the local (county) environmental health departments.
Food safety regulations are promulgated in Division 104, Part 7 of the California Health & Safety Code, also known as the California Retail Food Code (CalCode).
In Inyo County, all food facilities are inspected regularly. In addition to routine, scheduled inspections, investigative inspections are conducted in response to complaints or suspected foodborne illnesses. Followup inspections are conducted when corrective actions were deemed necessary during a routine or investigative inspection. Routine food inspections include restaurants, markets, bakeries, bars, bed & breakfasts, food service vehicles and carts, and food service operations at fairs, festivals and other special events.
The California Food Handler Card law is designed to ensure that restaurant employees receive a reasonable level of training in food safety practices to reduce the potential for foodborne illness. Food handlers must have a California Food Handler Card 30 days from the date of hire. Employees can get the card online with a short class and test. By law, the test cannot cost more than $15.00 and is good for three years.
Each food facility must maintain records documenting that each employee possesses a valid California Food Handler Card that can be provided to local enforcement officials upon request.
The document below contains California food handler frequently asked questions, and the link is to the California Restaurant Association's page on the topic.
Whether you want to open a brick and mortar restaurant, keep it mobile with a hotdog cart, or sell food at a community event, the documents below can get you started.
AB 1616, the California Homemade Food Act, was signed into law by Governor Brown on September 21, 2012, and became effective on January 1, 2013. This law allows certain foods, known as Cottage Foods, to be made in private homes and sold to the public. Individuals who own and run these home-based businesses are known as Cottage Food Operators (CFOs).
Those "certain foods" are items that won't readily go bad if left out on the countertop. And while the list of State-approved ingredients is limited, it is growing all the time. It is important though, that as you take these first steps down this exciting road of owning a business, that you compare this list to what you have in mind. There's no sense in filling out the paperwork if you want to prepare meatloaf and herbal-infused vodka. There is a link to the list below.
Once your ingredients match what's on the list, you need to decide how you want to sell the foods you create. If you want to sell directly to the customer, say, at a booth in the Bishop City Park during Mule Days, then you will need a Class A permit. If you want to sell both directly and indirectly, say, to a restaurant or store, then you will need a Class B permit. Both of the applications are the same, but Class B cost a bit more and requires a short inspection of your home kitchen. For Class A we ask that you fill out the Self-Certification Checklist and submit this with your application.
So, here is a list of what you'll need to do to apply for a CFO permit:
- Fill out the Food Facility Permit Application and the Self-Cert Checklist.
- Provide proof that you have taken and passed a food handler exam.
- Gather a list of the ingredients proposed.
- Have an example of your proposed packaging.
- Provide a sample label that meets the requirements listed below.
Once you have all of this, mail it with the appropriate fee to the Independence address on the paperwork. You may also pay online using the one-time payment option through the link on our homepage. You can find a link to our fee schedule in the left margin.