Food Operations That Do Not Need Permits in California

Are you looking to start selling food in California without the hassle of obtaining permits? You have a few options for food businesses you can start running ASAP. Here are the food operations that do not need permits in California:

Food Operations That Do Not Need Permits in CA

1. Food Carts: Food carts or compact mobile food operations (CMFOs) do not require permits if they are selling prepackaged, non-potentially hazardous foods or whole, uncooked fruits and vegetables. Prepackaged foods come from a commercial source (like Lays chips, Oreo cookies, etc.)

2. Vending Machines: You do not need a permit to stock a vending machine with non-potentially hazardous foods that do not require refrigeration. These include bottled water, sodas, and packaged candy and cookies.

food operations that do not need permits in california

3. Cottage Food Operations: While regulations vary by city/county, it is possible for home-based businesses to sell these approved foods without a permit. California classifies these businesses as Class A Cottage Food Operations (CFOs). Class A CFOs may only sell food directly to the public and must register with their local Environmental Health Department. There is an annual fee for CFO registration that varies by county. As a California CFO, your gross sales may not exceed $50,000 in a year. To learn more about cottage food law, visit our blog.

4. Shared-Use Kitchens: Shared-use kitchens or kitchen incubators function by providing a legally-licensed commercial kitchen with cooking and storage facilities to multiple food-businesses at a cost. In this operation, the kitchen owner is the one responsible for securing the health permit and ensuring compliance with food safety and sanitation regulations.

Therefore, if you’re a food entrepreneur using a shared-use kitchen, you need not secure a permit for your business. However, you must ensure that the kitchen you’re using has a permit and abides by the regulatory guidelines.

5. Farms: Farms can sell the raw fruits and vegetables they grow without a permit if the sale takes place on the farmland. Individuals can also sell the produce they have grown to grocery stores and restaurants without a permit.

It is completely possible to start selling food without jumping through too many hoops. These food operations that do not need permits in California are a great place to start your business journey.

Cottage food operations and farms can set up online shops on Airmart to start selling directly to local customers: