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LA County approves at-home kitchen businesses

CBS News Live
CBS News Los Angeles Live

Home chefs in Los Angeles will soon be able to prepare and sell food legally out of their kitchens starting this November as the county gave the approval Tuesday for "Microenterprise Home Kitchen Operations."

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved a permitting process that will allow home cooks and sidewalk vendors throughout the county to be able to cook safe and regulated food for the public.

Supervisor Holly Mitchell said the ordinance aligns LA County with the state "in creating a pathway for unregulated chefs to become permitted and builds on our efforts to provide guardrails that protect residents and brick and mortar businesses, while helping thousands of sidewalk vendors and home cooks benefit from our local economy." 

In 2018, the state passed a law that allowed home cooks to sell their goods to the public, but Los Angeles County still did not permit it. Not until now, or Nov. 2024, will home cooks be permitted to prepare, sell or giveaway food from a home kitchen.

Riverside County was the first in the state to launch a Microenterprise Home Kitchen Operations (MEHKO) program in 2019.

Under the new LA County ordinance, home businesses are to pay an application fee of $597, along with an annual health permit fee of $347, covering the costs of annual inspections and enforcement actions.

The ordinance also sets a cap on gross annual sales of $100,000, with meals limited to 30 per day or 90 per week.

Under the ordinance, a MEHKO can also be approved to serve as a commissary for up to two food carts, or Compact Mobile Food Operations. In such cases, the kitchens will be limited to 80 meals per day and no more than 200 meals per week. The gross sales for a MEHKO operating as a commissary will be $150,000.

Health officials said the ordinance was developed in consultation with other counties that have already adopted a MEHKO program, along with the COOK Alliance, an advocacy organization working to legitimize and support home cooking businesses.

Los Angeles County becomes the 15th jurisdiction in the state to authorize MEHKOs, with the permitting ordinance going into effect on November 1, 2024.

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