AB 626 Would Risk Public Health
CSAC Requests Veto
AB 626, by Assembly Member Eduardo Garcia, would allow for the direct sale of food by residents in private homes and limit county public health authority to authorize and monitor these activities. The bill would create a new category of retail food facilities called microenterprise home kitchens (MHKs), allowing home cooks to sell directly to the public through an internet website or mobile application.
While some permitting requirements and limitations would apply to MHKs, they are largely exempt from having to meet key requirements necessary to protect the public’s health, including handwashing facilities requirements, food preparation, and equipment safety requirements. In addition, AB 626 restricts the county’s discretion to authorize these activities in the county by allowing cities to opt in without a county ordinance or resolution.
Counties have significant concerns about the preparation of foods in private homes for public consumption without the direct oversight of health officials. Cooking, cooling, and reheating foods, as well as ensuring appropriate hot and cold temperature controls, is challenging even in a commercial kitchen with staff training and appropriate equipment and facilities. This danger increases exponentially in a home kitchen. The public expects that their purchased food has been prepared within a legal framework to prevent pathogens.
CSAC believes this bill broadens the existing cottage food law in a way that would put the public at risk and has joined the County Health Executives Association of California in requesting the Governor veto AB 626.