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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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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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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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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.
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+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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Old 01-31-2012, 05:31 AM   #11
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lol, tim. you might want to remove your location under your name...

this thread has made me think of the legal issues involved in a party that i used to cater at work.

until i was shifted onto midnights at work, i catered my department's holiday party every december. it started out many years ago only for about the immediate 15 people in our shop, plus about another 15 guests or so. but it became so popular that i think i served around 100+ people in my last few years of doing it. all of the cooking was done in my little home kitchen, and the food was delivered to my building in the back seat of my truck. i have food stains on the seats to prove it.

one of the things that i realized as the party grew each year was that i'd really better pay attention to how perfectly clean everything needed to be, and how the food was kept before being delivered to the party. all it would take for it to come crashing down and me become a disgusting pariah was for just one person to get sick. fortunately, that never happened.

the last 2 years of "my" party, my supervisor offered to help by bringing in a spiral sliced ham because there were just so many people from all corners of our company showing up unexpected. i mentioned to him about all of the servsafe rules that i'd read about (thanks to folks here), so when he brought in the ham he remarked about how the same ideas of someone getting sick scared him, so he scrubbed and disinfected every inch of his kitchen to the great amusement of his wife.

these last two decembers saw the party moved to another shop, catered by a small italian restaurant across the street from my building. according to reports from coworkers (i didn't go since again, i'm on midnight shifts) the food was barely mediocre, and shamefully ran out before a good third of the coworkers who helped pay for it arrived, not to mention late arriving invited guests.

more than a half dozen coworkers have come to me since this past year's party asking me to take it over again. unless they give me 2 paid days off from work to pull it off, i'm not considering it.

but in light of this thread, i wonder what the laws would be if someone did actually get sick from my unregulated home catering? could i be held responsible in any way? i guess i'd have to try to look up the food service laws of both new jersey, where the food is perpared, and n.y. state, where it is served.
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Old 01-31-2012, 05:47 AM   #12
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bucky,

I think the feds would be after you for racketeering/RICO or some such thing for taking bad chow across state lines!

It is best to always leave the party early, as a winner!

They will continue to add kudos to your reputation based on your past deeds!
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Old 01-31-2012, 06:08 AM   #13
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lol, aunt bea. yeah, i'm sure the past will get better as every year passes.

for $650, i made 2 full trays of lasagna (one meat, one veggie), 3 full trays of sunday gravy (meatballs, sausage, pork rib ends, veggies), 1 full tray of pasta primavera (for a few lactose intolerant coworkers), 2 full trays of pulled pork, and 2 full trays of a loaded mesculun salad. also, italian and french breads, slider rolls, salad dressings, grayed cheese, soda, beer, and wine.

it would take me about 14 hours to pull it off, cooking through the night. i guess it worked out since the labor was free.

every year we had leftovers for lunch the next day. thank god for costco.

getting back to the topic, i wonder if - besides the law - my very litigious company would allow such a thing anymore, just in case someone gets sick from it during work hours? we never invited any corporate lawyers, lol.
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Old 01-31-2012, 06:11 AM   #14
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lol, aunt bea. yeah, i'm sure the past will get better as every year passes.

for $650, i made 2 full trays of lasagna (one meat, one veggie), 3 full trays of sunday gravy (meatballs, sausage, pork rib ends, veggies), 1 full tray of pasta primavera (for a few lactose intolerant coworkers), 2 full trays of pulled pork, and 2 full trays of a loaded mesculun salad. also, italian and french breads, slider rolls, salad dressings, grayed cheese, soda, beer, and wine.

it would take me about 14 hours to pull it off, cooking through the night. i guess it worked out since the labor was free.

every year we had leftovers for lunch the next day. thank god for costco.

getting back to the topic, i wonder if - besides the law - my very litigious company would allow such a thing anymore, just in case someone gets sick from it during work hours? we never invited any corporate lawyers, lol.
Where I worked it would be ignored until a problem came up and then they left you twisting in the wind!
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Old 01-31-2012, 06:25 AM   #15
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lol, you must have worked here! even with a union.
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Old 01-31-2012, 06:30 AM   #16
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lol, you must have worked here! even with a union.

The lawyers had ,what was for me, an interesting approach. We had very few written policies. If you have a policy you can be criticized for not policing it or someone might find a loophole. So they viewed each problem with shock and amazement. The company was almost never at fault. The upside was that we got to meet a lot of new people!
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Old 01-31-2012, 10:00 AM   #17
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Dear Tim,

Sorry we have been neglecting you, but last night, we moved the satellite to its new position over St Augustine.

Yours truly,

The Gummint

P.S. You need to wash your car.
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Old 01-31-2012, 10:23 AM   #18
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My "catering" business was more like I was a hired cook for an event. I made the desserts in my home, they were the only thing made in my kitchen. My customers would tell me the type of party they wanted, the foods they wanted served. It was up to me to create the menu, do the shopping, cooking and cleaning...in their home kitchen with their equipment. This was a select customer base that I cooked for, including my boss and his friends. I worked in the most fantastic dream home kitchens.
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Old 01-31-2012, 01:59 PM   #19
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Dear Tim,

Sorry we have been neglecting you, but last night, we moved the satellite to its new position over St Augustine.

Yours truly,

The Gummint

P.S. You need to wash your car.
Ha! Good one! MY house shows clearly on Google Earth. They even used some kind of tall truck to take a photo over my 8 foot privacy fence.

My friends call my fence "Tim's Fort". You should hear the rumors in my neighborhood about me.
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Old 01-31-2012, 04:09 PM   #20
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Then you should give them some drums in the night, restless natives style. Or a Theremin.
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