Home Kitchen Operations in Santa Barbara County

Microenterprise Home Kitchen Operations (MEHKOs)

UPDATE (5/11/21): Santa Barbara County will begin accepting plan check applications for MEHKO permits on June 15, 2021. Please see the Resources section of this page for links to the quick-start guide, plan check application, and additional information. 

Governor Brown signed AB 626 in 2018 (updated by AB 377 in 2019). This law took effect on January 1, 2019, and allows home cooks to apply for a health permit to make and sell meals out of their home kitchen (known as a Microenterprise Home Kitchen Operation or MEHKO) if their local jurisdiction has adopted an ordinance that allows them.  On May 11, 2021, the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors approved such an ordinance, effective June 2021.  Please note that a MEHKO cannot operate without first obtaining a health permit.

MEHKOs can be thought of as a mini-food business that can operate from a private home kitchen. The operator of a MEHKO may make and sell a wider variety of foods than is currently allowed in a home-based Cottage Food Operation. They can provide the food for take-out or delivery, or customers can dine at the MEHKO. Because MEHKOs are in private homes and not commercial restaurant kitchens, there are limits on what they can make and serve. Some conditions that MEHKOs have to meet include.

  • Making and serving food on the same day
  • Selling directly to customers (no wholesaling or catering)
  • A maximum of 60 meals per week (with a maximum of 30 meals per day; may be less, depending on the proposed menu, kitchen, space and equipment available)
  • Less the $50,000 per year gross receipts (verifiable)
  • Alcoholic beverages may not be served, sold or given away without a permit from the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (  https://www.abc.ca.gov )
  • No canning or bottling of foods (including salsas, sauces, dressings or juices)
  • Limits on number of employees
  • Limits on household activities that can occur in the MEHKO during its operating hours.

If you are interested in learning more about MEHKOs in Santa Barbara County, the presentation prepared for the April 12 and April 14, 2021 stakeholder outreach meetings can be viewed at the following links below:

         The MEHKO April Stakeholder's Presentation [ English]  [ Spanish]  

Please email our office ( phdehsweb@sbcphd.org ) to obtain up to date information about health permit requirements for MEHKOs in Santa Barbara County. 

The full text of AB 626 can be read here: AB 626 MEHKO

The full text of AB 377 can be read here: AB 377

MEHKO Questions? Please email EHS at:  phdehsweb@sbcphd.org


Cottage Food Operations (CFOs)

Cottage Food Operators with a registration or permit from Environmental Health Services can use their home kitchen to make, sell and give away certain low-risk foods that do not require refrigeration. Only foods listed on the California Approved Cottage Food List may be made in a Cottage Food Operation. Examples of approved foods are jams or jellies made with high-acid fruits (like strawberries), baked goods such as brownies or cookies, dried foods, and some confections: Approved Cottage Foods List

Class A Cottage Food Operators may sell directly to their customers (direct sales) within California. They must complete a self-certification registration checklist with Environmental Health Services.

Class B Cottage Food Operators may sell directly to their customers (direct sales) within California and may also sell to restaurants or retail facilities (indirect sales) within the County in which they hold their Cottage Food permit. Class B Cottage Food Operators must apply for a health permit with Environmental Health Services and may be inspected by Environmental Health Services on an annual basis.

For more information about Cottage Food Operations, registrations and permits in Santa Barbara County, please read the Cottage Food FAQs and Cottage Food Guidance below under RESOURCES.

Cottage Food Forms and Guidance Material

Cottage Food Application Instructions -

All applicants for a Cottage Food Operation must reside within Santa Barbara County. Applicants should read and be familiar with the Cottage Food Guidance educational document before completing the application:

Class A Self Certification Checklist (online form).

Class B Self Certification and Application - Complete application in full, print and submit with payment to:

Santa Barbara County Environmental Health Services

2125 Centerpointe Pkwy, Suite 333
Santa Maria, CA 93455
225 Camino Del Remedio
Santa Barbara, CA 93110