California bill (assembly bill no. 626) signed into law on September 18, 2018 establishes a new legal entity called microenterprise home kitchen operation or simply mehko as a new type of retail food facility. In other words, individuals can operate a ‘restaurant’ in their private residence. However unlike a traditional restaurant, there are certain restrictions and limits specific to mehko. These include how much a mehko can sell and how a mehko delivers the food. To get started as a mehko you must register with your local environmental health agency, adhere to a health code and possibly get your kitchen approved. You may also work with an internet food service intermediary (IFSI) to advertise and sell your food.
Internet Food Service Intermediary” (IFSI)
Individuals who are interested in operating as a mehko may work with a internet food service intermediary” (IFSI) in order to advertise and sell their food. An internet food service intermediary (IFSI) is an entity that facilitates the sale of home cooked food items offered by microenterprise home kitchen operations (MEHKO) through a web and or mobile platform. For apartial list of IFSIs visit the following page:
Before you can advertise and sell through a IFSI you must obtain a permit.
Obtaining a Permit
As of January 1, 2019 the new law gives a city or county the full discretion to authorize the mehkos in their jurisdiction. Please contact your local environmental health department for more information on applying for a permit. For a complete and updated list of local environmental health agencies in California visit the following link:
List of Local Environmental Health Agencies
General Permit Requirements
- Submit a permit application to the local environmental health agency
- Obtain an inspection of the microenterprise home kitchen operation facilities;
- Complete an approved food manager certification;
- Sales must occur directly between the MEHKO and the customer;
- You must prepare, cook and serve on the same day;
- You can sell no more than 30 meals per day, or a total of 60 meals per week
- Operate within established gross annual sales limits of $50,000
Please check with your local environmental health agency for a more accurate and complete list of requirements.
Kitchen Approval Process
One of the requirements involves getting your kitchen approved. Los Angeles County has setup a quiz to help you get an idea of how your kitchen might do during a kitchen approval process. Visit the link to take the quiz:
Los Angeles County Environmental Health Services
Home Kitchen Self-Inspection Site
If you would like to learn more about this new initiative you can read the official bill found here: