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Legality of Cakeing in Upstate NY?

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
So I'm sure that I'll get several different answers on here, just like I did from the different people I spoke to at the Monroe County Health Department, the State Health Department, and a few HD's in neighboring counties. But nonetheless: what am I allowed to do, and not allowed to do, in upstate NY?

Here's what I was told by someone at the Monroe County Health Department:
I need to have a licensed kitchen (build a second one) in order to have cake served at just about any facility in Monroe County, or they won't let it in the door.

Here is what the NYS Health Dept said:
It is the discretion of an individual facility as to whether or not they will allow my cake to be served if I am not licensed, but I can make all the cakes I want for family, friends, and friends-of-friends to be served at non-licensed facilities such as in-home, parks, VFW's, etc.

Here is what the Wayne County Health Dept said:
We don't care.


Any ideas?
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post #2 of 19
What does the County you live in says, are you going to be serving all those Counties that you listed?
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post #3 of 19
Thread Starter 
I live in Monroe county, but the vast majority of friends that would like me to make cakes for them live in surrounding counties.
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post #4 of 19
There was a reason for me asking that question, as you can see I live in upstate NY also. when I first called, he (The HD) told me about the seperate Kitchen, but he also told me it would cost me some money to build, so if I am not making a specific amount of cakes per week, it would not benifit me to build at this time, He also said it is a grey area, so he does not care if I make a few cakes a week, like 1 or 2.

The problem is that you are right about making your cakes for venues, they would not allow you to deliver a cake there if you are not licensed, or insured.

Then I spoke to my HD again and he gave me the # to the dept of Agriculture, and they came out and inspected and gave me a Class 20 C Home processor approved process the following Non-Potentially Hazardous food Products licence, and Sanitaty inspection report.

I will send you the #'s in your inbox.
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post #5 of 19
Thread Starter 
Oh that would be fantastic! I don't plan on this being a buisness, just a hobby, but I also don't want to break the law! Thank you icon_smile.gif
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post #6 of 19
You are welcome, i sent those #'s, glad I can help.
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post #7 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Uniqueask

Then I spoke to my HD again and he gave me the # to the dept of Agriculture, and they came out and inspected and gave me a Class 20 C Home processor approved process the following Non-Potentially Hazardous food Products licence, and Sanitaty inspection report.


Interesting...does this mean that NY essentially has a cottage food law where most stock home kitchens are OK, or did you make significant changes to your kitchen to bring it up to commercial standards?

Or is this only specific to your county?
post #8 of 19
I am not sure if it is called a cottage law, but I can make cakes to sell at farmers market, and wholesale. like to restaurants etc, I can also sell to consumers but they say not Wedding cakes, but then the Inspector, says if the HD does not mind about the wedding cakes, he does'nt either, just don't advertise it. and he also recommend that I bought Liability Insurance, and I did not have to make any changes to my home kitchen, just keep it clean, and I have to put labels on anything I sell.
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post #9 of 19
I'm also in the Upstate NY area (Onondaga County) and they are fairly strict as to the laws regarding home based cake business.

The Dept. of Health was pretty adamant that I had to be licensed and that it couldn't be done out of my house unless I was willing to build on a second kitchen that was up to code. We considered it but, after adding up total costs, it was going to run us something like $75,000 to $100,000 minimum for building and equipment costs.

The only thing we could do out of the home kitchen was secure a Home Processors License under Article 20-C and that wasn't going to work either as the stipulations attached to it are ridiculous. With the HP License, I could make cakes and sell them at farmers markets and through wholesale...but not as a retail product to individual customers (etc...brides). So basically, I can freely poison everyone at the farmers market en masse but I can't sell an individual cake to a bride or other interested party. I also couldn't sell anything that had to be refrigerated such as anything containing butter or eggs (uncooked and raw such as in butter cream).

On top of those restrictions, you cannot use the Internet for ANYTHING related to the business. From NY States Dept. of Ag and Markets - " The use of the internet in any form (sales, advertising, email addresses or websites-including Facebook, Craigslist etc) is prohibited under the Home Processor exemption."

How incredibly stupid is this law?? You can sell to strangers at a farmers market but you can't sell to someone you establish a business relationship with...lol You can't advertise the business that your working your butt off on and you can't use butter or eggs in a cake because it might need to be refrigerated...lol icon_mad.gif

So, basically, I'm securing the use of a commercial kitchen in my county, getting fully licensed, insured and knocking it out of the park!

I can't see NY ever passing a cottage law for people like us....it would be too hard for them to keep track of everyone doing this from home and because of that, they wouldn't be able to tax us back to the Stone Age....which is the daily theme of living in NY icon_twisted.gif

NOW I understand the heated debates between those working under the radar and those of us that have to put out a hefty amount of money to get started and work within the law...lol
"This is the captain. We have a...little problem with our engine sequence, so we may experience some slight turbulence and then...explode."

"C'mon....we're talking about cake here, not murder....lol....can we get back to the cake?"
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"This is the captain. We have a...little problem with our engine sequence, so we may experience some slight turbulence and then...explode."

"C'mon....we're talking about cake here, not murder....lol....can we get back to the cake?"
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post #10 of 19
Thread Starter 
CakeCop- good luck with starting a full business!! That's so exciting, I hope you kick butt.

It's amazing how differing the opinions are between counties. Monroe county was very strict about reminding me that most places wouldn't serve my cake unless it was from a licensed kitchen, but said they didn't care if I was making and selling cakes to friends/family/friends of friends... which was essentially reiterated by the State Health department. And then there was Wayne county, who didn't care at all. The first lady I spoke to in Wayne said she didn't think the county even had rules about such things icon_smile.gif

My intentions are not to start a business by any means, I won't advertise, I won't recruit, and I won't make cakes for those I don't know. I just wanted to know if I could legally make and sell cakes to good friends for events that they are having. I've been asked to make so many lately after making a wedding cake for a friend (that was served in Wayne county at a hotel that does indeed have it's own catering business, and they didn't think twice about serving my cake!) and I wanted to do so legally. The idea of selling things at Farmer's markets is interesting though, I will certainly look into that a bit more.

Thank you everyone for the advice, and good luck to everyone!
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post #11 of 19
I have the same Home Processing Permit from Monroe County.

I don't know who talked to you, but they left out a whole bunch of rules:

1. You cannot advertise anywhere, nada zip, nothing. No Facebook, internet or whatever those "kids are using nowadays".
2. Everything has to be individually wrapped, labeled with your name, address (if your phone number is not in the local phone book. If you are unlisted, you have to provide address, otherwise phone number is okay), and all of the complete ingredients. This means say you make a cake and use oreo cookie filling, you have to list all the ingredients for the cookies too.
3. I was going to try Farmer's Market where I put cookies and such on a tray and then put them in a bag and give to the customer. This is a no-no. Evidently if you separate it out from the tray and put it into another package you are now considered a full-sized bakery and this kind of business does not fall under the jurisdiction of the Dept of Agriculture.

Now about the wedding cake thing. I believe that if you do a wholesale account to the venue you can then provide the wedding cake. But my understanding is that there is absolutely no selling directly to the customer except through the Farmer's Market. Now I suppose you could "deliver" it to the Farmer's Market and take a special order for one. But technically the Farmer's Market is the only venue through which you are to reach a direct customer.

I do know that most reputable venue places throughout Monroe County are going to make sure you are making the cake in a HD inspected kitchen. I am not too sure if this is true with a Agric Dept kitchen like we have. But we do have the paperwork to show to the venue if they ask. I suppose it is up to that person at that facility to accept it or not.

I also was told about a year ago from someone in the HD that eventually this would get folded into the Health Department and the Dept of Agric would no longer be doing this. But we know how long it takes for them to do anything in NY state, so I wouldn't hold my breath.

I also personally know of several people under this type of license who freely advertise on Facebook and the internet. I don't know how they get away with it. Personally I have not done that because I have yet to take advantage of having an inspected kitchen. I am currently looking for a retail site, so it will be changing anyway.

Also if you do retail and wholesale and have a retail site, then depending on which part of your business is what you do most you could still fall under the Dept of Agriculture. Because as a HD person told me, they are reluctant to give them up to other department once they have you. But in my case moving from my home to a retail site might be different. Unless I have a strong wholesale business started by then.

It is a gray area here, and I don't believe NYS has any strong type of law on their books about doing this. I could be wrong, but I didn't want to take the chance to find out, so I went and got the Home Processing Permit. I wish getting wholesale accounts was just as easy.
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post #12 of 19
Thread Starter 
Hi Linda.
Thanks for the info! I wasn't inquiring about a home processor permit when I called, which is probably why they didn't mention it. I was specifically asking if I can make cakes for the few friends that have asked me to, and they said since they are all being served either at parks, or VFW type places that they didn't care. I do have a question though- do you find it profitable to sell at Farmer's markets? I've often thought about it, but wasn't sure if it would be worth it.
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post #13 of 19
See that is what I was trying to explain, I guess I did not go into all the details like Linda and Cake cop 41, but both the Inspectors told me that they did not care if I sold to Consumers, which I only sell to people I know, because there is the grey area you are talking about, As long as I was not selling like $2000 or more a week then I would have to have a commercial kitchen, but like Claireybear said, some venues will allow you to make a cake with the home processors cert if you have Insurance, especially if it is a family function, and most will not. so it depends on who you are working with, in my County it is who you know. I have been inspected since Nov, 19 09 and the Inspector has not been back to my house yet. I though they come at least every three months, but I guess I was wrong, I actually only sold about seven cakes since then, so I don't really sell that much, I too still want to find a commercial kitchen to rent, but it is very hard where I live they always say no. their Insurance won't allow it.
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post #14 of 19
Thank you for the wonderful information. I appreciate it. Best of luck to everyone icon_smile.gif
post #15 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Claireybear1121

Hi Linda.
Thanks for the info! I wasn't inquiring about a home processor permit when I called, which is probably why they didn't mention it. I was specifically asking if I can make cakes for the few friends that have asked me to, and they said since they are all being served either at parks, or VFW type places that they didn't care. I do have a question though- do you find it profitable to sell at Farmer's markets? I've often thought about it, but wasn't sure if it would be worth it.



I don't have an answer for this as I have not done it. You may want to stalk the Rochester FM for a while and ask some questions there.

BTW, Home Processing Permit is through the Department of Agriculture, so you won't get any help from the Health Department on that one. You will have to call the Dept of Agriculture to get that information.

Frankly, they are both giving conflicting information here. I think your best bet is to call both places and then make your decision from there.
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