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Taking home cookin’ to the streets

Even the fanciest restaurants can’t beat a home-cooked meal like grandma used to make.

A new bill could make it easier to find foods made with love being sold on the street.

The California Homemade Food Act, also known as AB 1616, would establish simple regulations that would allow food to be made in the comfort of the kitchen and sold to the public.

The bill only applies to foods that do not spoil at room temperature, such as bread and preserves.

The state assembly’s Health Committee amended the bill April 10 and it will be up for a vote April 17.

It is currently illegal to sell foods from a home kitchen. This forces small vendors to rent space in a commercial kitchen. Prices range from $25 an hour at La Cocina to $3,000 for 24/7 access at La Victoria, both in the Mission.

Under AB 1616, vendors who prepare food at home would be labeled “cottage food vendors.” This would make them exempt from the Retail Food Code for producing “non-potentially hazardous” food.

There would be two categories of cottage vendors, one who sells directly and one who sells their products to a third party. This is like someone selling bread to a coffee shop, which would then sell it to customers.

Not only would the bill allow delicious food to flow more freely, it would give small businesses a boost, said Iso Rabins, founder of Forage SF, in a letter supporting the bill:

“The system is broken. AB 1616 would establish a simple regulatory system for micro-enterprises producing non-potentially hazardous foods to operate in the open and with reasonable oversight of local health departments.”

It appears state leaders may be foodies themselves as there is very little opposition to the bill. If green-lighted all the way to the Governor, the bill could take effect by August.

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