It’s illegal to sell homemade food in California — but that might change

Apr 20, 2017

Rosa Alvarez, right, and daughter-in-law Nicole Maiden Alvarez show off the results of a tamale making class that helped them bond in the kitchen. ; Credit: Adolfo Guzman-Lopez/KPCC


Selling tamales, wontons, blintzes and other foods made in a home kitchen that aren’t “non-potentially hazardous” is considered a crime in California. That’s something Assembly Bill 626, introduced by Eduardo Garcia (D-Coachella), is trying to change.

The measure would legalize home kitchen operations for individuals who get a permit, meet safety and health standards and keep their total sales under $50,000 a year.

The bill is sponsored by Josephine, a company that provides an online platform for home cooks to sell their wares. They say this would especially benefit minority groups, who might not be able to find employment in restaurants because of caretaking commitments or language barriers.

The bill, which will be voted on in the Assembly Health Committee, faces opposition from the Health Officers Association of California, as well as the County Health Executive Association of California, who say it poses a threat to public health.

Many immigrant communities have go-to home chefs who provide a taste of home that’s hard to find in an established U.S. restaurant – are these retail home-cooked meals a public health danger or an asset? Do you buy certain home cooked foods from people in your community and if so, what is their value? Their risk?


Matt Jorgensen, co-CEO of Josephine, a company that runs a web platform for home cooks to sell food; Josephine sponsored the bill  

Jeff Nelken, a food safety expert, consultant, and food safety auditor in Los Angeles


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