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Old 01-29-2012, 10:53 PM   #1
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Home Baking & The Law

This seems to be a national topic that's heating up in a number of states. I hadn't been aware of it, so I take the opportunity to pass it along.

This applies directly to Texas. As of June 2011, The Texas Cottage Food Law permits limited types of food preparation, mainly baked goods, jams and jellies, dried herbs, to be made in home kitchens (meaning not commercial kitchens which cannot be in a home) and sold from the home (no, not on the Internet - you can't ship it). It does this by exempting the home kitchen from the definition of a "food service establishment." It's primarily a thing for bakers operating from home. No food service permits. No food handlers licensing. No insurance required. No inspections. And you don't have to register.

Now this is state statute law, enacted by the legislature.

The Department of Health Services has proposed rule changes requiring labeling. It's apparently an attempt to impose their own rules on home bakers that the legislature removed from the definition of operations the Health Department could regulate. It would not appear that there's any way the Health Department can enforce their rules, should they adopt them, since there's no license to revoke.

PROPOSED RULES
All foods prepared by a cottage food production operation must be labeled.
(1) The label information shall include:
(A) the name and physical address of the cottage food production operation;
(B) the common or usual name of the product and an adequately descriptive statement of identity;
(C) if made from two or more ingredients, a list of ingredients in descending order of predominance by net weight, including a declaration of artificial color or flavor and chemical preservatives, if contained in the food;
(D) an accurate declaration of the net quantity of contents including metric measurements;
(E) allergen labeling in compliance with the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004, Pub. L. No. 108-282, Title II, 118. Stat. 905; and
(F) the following statement: "Made in home kitchen, food is not inspected by the Department of State Health Services or a local health department" in at least the equivalent of 11-point font and in a color that provides a clear contrast to the background.
(2) Labels must be clearly legible and printed with durable, permanent ink.
(A) Ingredient statements shall be at 1/16 of an inch or larger.
(B) Ingredients shall include components of the ingredients.
(C) Net quantity of contents shall be separated from other text on the label and must be located in the bottom third of the label

The Department will be getting an earfull during the 30-day comment period.They may well hear from the legislature in the next session. They are going for these rules based on a section of the law that says they can adopt labeling rules to include the name and address of the cottage food operation and a statement that the food is not inspected. I doubt the legislature anticipated the Health Department taking it to extremes. The proposed rules go beyond those for a regulated food service establishment.

Texas Cottage Food Law: Home Page

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Old 01-29-2012, 11:18 PM   #2
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Ontario has stricter rules. This has really hurt folks who bring stuff to a farmer's market.
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Old 01-30-2012, 03:34 AM   #3
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New York state has some strict home baking laws. They have impacted donations to local soup kitchens and other charity organizations. Food now needs to be made in a commercial kitchen that is inspected. No more pies and cookies from grandma"s house. I understand them and I guess it is for the best. All these laws make me sad.
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Old 01-30-2012, 04:52 AM   #4
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I will not consume food made in the home kitchens of people that I do not know. Food given to me by SOME of the people I know either gets buried or is fed to the birds.
Our senior center's kitchen was closed due to health department red tape; and their chow was 10 times better than the slop served at a local $300+ per day nursing home.
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Old 01-30-2012, 05:49 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by justplainbill View Post
I will not consume food made in the home kitchens of people that I do not know. Food given to me by SOME of the people I know either gets buried or is fed to the birds.
Our senior center's kitchen was closed due to health department red tape; and their chow was 10 times better than the slop served at a local $300+ per day nursing home.
I am the same way bill. I am very wary and squeamish about home made, bulk , self serve and potluck food offerings. I feel that it is up to me to take personal responsibility for deciding which ones I will eat and which ones I will flush. The fact that we need to police it and legislate it makes me sad.
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Old 01-30-2012, 06:08 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Aunt Bea View Post
I am the same way bill. I am very wary and squeamish about home made, bulk , self serve and potluck food offerings. I feel that it is up to me to take personal responsibility for deciding which ones I will eat and which ones I will flush. The fact that we need to police it and legislate it makes me sad.
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Old 01-30-2012, 09:28 AM   #7
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For perspective, the Texas law was not intended to begin regulating home baking. It was intended to take it out of strict regulation. Obviously, the primary target was to allow people who bake custom cakes for weddings and such at home to sell them from home. It didn't really mean much for the other foods it addresses, jams, jellies, dried herbs, because there's little of that sold from home. And anything that's sold at flea markets and other away from home places still requires the heavy requirements of a commercial kitchen and can't ever be done in a home. But even that is rarely enforced at any but the most obsessively run farmers markets.

It really won't change anything for most bake sale fundraisers in front of WalMArt or for baked goods auctions at community events. (A frequent thing during election years in rural areas, because all the candidates feel obliged to show up and bid vigorously. It was a boon for the deputies, because the Sheriff would bring his us all his campaign purchases.) The old existing food laws still apply to those, but will still not be enforced in any but large cities. The state health department can't do much but revoke a license or file a suit. They depend on the city to handle it through their occupancy and business permitting ordinances. And in my town, the city "health department" is one local physician paid to do some restaurant inspections. It used to be the local vet.

We shall see what happens during the 30-day comments period, now that the issue has some media traction.
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Old 01-30-2012, 09:52 AM   #8
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Unless I've been in someones kitchen, I don't buy their food, nor do I like pot lucks for the same reason.

Years ago, I belonged to a club and a very prominent woman was President. She always was very well put together, beautiful clothes, grooming, etc. One day I went to her home to pick something up, and I couldn't believe the mess. Her kitchen had food swept into a corner, the counters were filthy, well, you get my drift. The rest of the house that I saw was just as bad. That did it for me.
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Old 01-30-2012, 10:06 AM   #9
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I've seen the same phenomenon. You wouldn't suspect it from the person's public appearance. But I've been in enough restaurant kitchens after hours to know that a classy dining room doesn't mean the kitchen isn't a sty.

The human immune system is a thing of wonder.
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Old 01-30-2012, 01:02 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aunt Bea View Post
New York state has some strict home baking laws. They have impacted donations to local soup kitchens and other charity organizations. Food now needs to be made in a commercial kitchen that is inspected. No more pies and cookies from grandma"s house. I understand them and I guess it is for the best. All these laws make me sad.
Quote:
Originally Posted by justplainbill View Post
+1
People seem to want an intrusive government

Not this one! I'm almost off thier grid now, and loving it.
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