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FAQ
Am I required to pass an exam before I open a restaurant?
Any food establishment that prepares, handles or serves unpackaged potentially hazardous food (such as a restaurant or bar); a mobile food preparation unit (such as a "taco truck" or "hot truck"); a stationary mobile food preparation unit (such as a food stand at a county fair); or a commissary, is required to have an owner or employee who has successfully passed an approved and accredited food safety certification examination. Any of the above food facilities that commences operation, changes ownership, or no longer has a certified owner or employee has up to 60 days to have an owner or employee successfully pass (or hire someone that has already passed) an approved and accredited food safety certification examination.
Are employees required to wear gloves in food facilities?
Gloves shall be worn when contacting food and food contact surfaces if the employee has any cuts, sores, rashes, artificial nails, nail polish, rings (other than a plain ring, such as a wedding band), uncleanable orthopedic support devices, or fingernails that are not clean, neatly trimmed and smooth. Whenever gloves are worn, they shall be changed or replaced as often as hand washing as required. When single-use gloves are used, they shall be replaced after removal.
Are employees required to wear hairnets in restaurants?
All food employees shall wear hair restraints such as hairnets, caps, or other suitable coverings to effectively keep hair from contacting food, equipment, or utensils. (Cal Code Section 113969)
Can I prepare food at home to sell to the public?
No, food prepared or stored in a private home cannot be sold or given away to the public; unless your kitchen has been registered or permitted as a Cottage Food Operation. Nonperishable, prepackaged food (such as Girl Scout cookies) may be given away, sold, or handled from a private home if stored and sold in its original packaging (Cal Code Sections 114021 and 114365.2)
I want to start a catering business. Do I need a permit?
No permit is required if you are a "private chef" caterer. A private chef is exempt from the California Retail Food Code (Cal Code). A private chef is a person who cooks for a private party at a private residence. All food must be transported from a restaurant or grocery store to the private residence and prepared on site. No food or equipment may be prepared or stored in the home of the private chef. A private chef cannot offer services as a caterer to the general public or sell food that was prepared in a private home.
Can I sell fruit from my home fruit trees?
Yes, you are allowed to sell fruit from your own tree, as long as the fruit is produced by practice of the agricultural arts upon land which you control. The location of sale must also take place on land which you control. You are also allowed to sell vegetables, shell eggs, fruits, and nuts, upon land you control, as long as you have grown or produced the agricultural product.
Can I assemble food products at home, such as gift baskets to sell to the public?
Yes, but the food to be assembled must be prepackaged from an approved source and be nonperishable. All food shall be sold in its original packaging. This includes prepackaged cookies, crackers, and jellies. (Cal Code Sections 113735, 113980, 114285(b) and 114339)
Where can I get a copy of the law that pertains to retail food sales (California Retail Food Code)?
You can get a copy from the Department of Resource Management (707) 784-6765, or you may download it from www.leginfo.ca.gov.
I bought food from a grocery store and it was bad (moldy bread, rancid meat, contaminated canned product, etc.). What should I do?
For complaints about packaged food or meat products from a retail store, contact the State Department of Health Services Food and Drug Branch Consumer Hotline: (800) 495-3232.
I saw a cockroach/mouse or otherwise have a complaint about a restaurant, what do I do?
If you have a complaint about unhealthy conditions such as uncleanliness, poor food handling practices, or unsafe food, contact the Department of Resource Management at (707) 784-6765 to make a complaint. An Environmental Health Specialist will investigate the complaint. If you have a complaint that is not related to unhealthy conditions, such as poor service, you should complain to the restaurant manager and/or the Better Business Bureau.
I got sick from eating food, what should I do?
If you are sick from eating food, contact your doctor. If you have a complaint about a possible food borne illness, contact the Department of Resource Management at (707) 784-6765.
Do I need to obtain a Food Handler or Food Protection Manager Certification?
Food handler FAQ
Can I use sanitizer instead of washing my hands?
Using a hand sanitizer does not remove the germs from your hands. You should first wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water. You may use a hand sanitizer directly after thoroughly washing your hands, but should not be used to substitute for proper handwashing.

See our handout on Handwashing for more information.