It’s 9:45am and the San Bernardino County Inspector was supposed to be here at 9:30am.  Hopefully she won’t be much later.  I’m very nervous.  Not because I think there’s anything wrong with our kitchen, but because once you invite county onto your property, they now are looking around at everything.  I might get approval for this Cottage Operations Permit, but I might get 10 other citations for who knows what else.  I’m praying that it goes well.  We’ve had county out enough times for our farmstay permit so hopefully anything they would pick on is already taken care of.

9:57… still not here…

Inspector Arrives

Ok so the county inspector made it here at about 10am and she apologized profusely about being late.  She hadn’t realized how far out we were.  She was very nice and personable-different than most of the county people I’ve dealt with.  She even tried one of our caramels and said they were fantastic!  Most of the time she was here we chit chatted about all sorts of things, like it was just a visit by a friend.

Not that she didn’t do her job.  She was a very good multi tasker and typed up her report and made notes as we talked.

The Interview

The inspector had a list of things to talk to me about and questions to ask:

Do pets come inside?

Do I have children who might be around during cooking?

Do I smoke?

Long story short is you can’t do these things.

Then she asked if I had a label and I showed her what I was working on so far.  She explained the requirements of a label.  It includes 7 components:

  1. “Made in a home kitchen”
  2. The name of the business (with full address unless it’s listed in the phone boo)
  3. What the product is
  4. The ingredients
  5. “County of San Bernardino”
  6. Your permit number
  7. The weight
Cottage Industries Permit

Sample Label Approved by County

She also said I had to get a food handler’s license within 3 months of getting the permit.

Cottage Industries Permit Food Handler's certificate training

Food Handler’s License Online Training for San Bernardino County

The Inspection

After the interview, she walked around the kitchen to make sure it was clean and she didn’t see any bugs or rodents.  She checked the temperature of the water and luckily it just barely hit 100 degrees which is the required temperature.  I say lucky because we had turned the water heater way down since I am getting the house that no one lives in permitted.

And that was about it.  She gave me a list of the approved cottage foods, which you can find as a PDF here.

Approved Food Products List (May 7, 2014): 

  1. (1) Baked goods, without cream, custard, or meat fillings, such as breads, biscuits, churros, cookies, pastries, and tortillas.
  2. (2) Candy, such as brittle and toffee.
  3. (3) Chocolate-covered nonperishable foods, such as nuts and dried fruits.
  4. (4) Dried fruit.
  5. (5) Dried pasta.
  6. (6) Dry baking mixes.
  7. (7) Fruit pies, fruit empanadas, and fruit tamales.
  8. (8) Granola, cereals, and trail mixes.
  9. (9) Herb blends and dried mole paste.
  10. (10)Honey and sweet sorghum syrup.
  11. (11) Jams, jellies, preserves, and fruit butter that comply with the standard described in Part 150 of Title 21 of the Code of Federal Regulations.
  12. (12) Nut mixes and nut butters.
  13. (13) Popcorn.
  14. (14) Vinegar and mustard.
  15. (15) Roasted coffee and dried tea.
  16. (16) Waffle cones and pizelles.
  17. (17) Cotton candy.
  18. (18) Candied apples.
  19. (19) Confections such as salted caramel, fudge, marshmallow bars, chocolate covered marshmallow, nuts, and hard candy, or any combination thereof.
  20. (20) Buttercream frosting, buttercream icing, buttercream fondant, and gum paste that do not contain eggs, cream, or cream cheese.
  21. (21) Dried or Dehydrated vegetables.
  22. (22) Dried vegetarian-based soup mixes.
  23. (23) Vegetable and potato chips.
  24. (24) Ground chocolate.

Tips

After that, the inspector gave me a few more tips such as that I have to sanitize cooking implements in bleach or iodine before use, I can have one employee (family doesn’t count), and that the state doesn’t approve of shipping products but that it’s not being enforced at this point so basically ship at my own risk, and make sure I have my permit whenever I go to sell things at farmer’s markets and what not.

Long story short, we are now approved to sell caramels!!!!  What a relief!