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Cottage Food Law questions and concerns.

post #1 of 116
Thread Starter 
I apologize in advance for asking a dumb question and I'm not trying to start a war. I don't know a lot about Cottage Food Law so I may be speaking out of turn. But I have no doubt that I will be correctly informed once I click submit.

If I understand correctly, bakers under the Cottage Food Law aren't inspected by the local health department, right? So will the health department continue to inspect existing permitted, licensed kitchens? If so, why?

How has this law affected established, permitted, licensed bakers in states where it has been passed?
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post #2 of 116
CFLs vary from state to state...in some states there are no inspections at all, while other states require a limited inspection for home-based businesses.

Existing or new businesses that operate out of commercial kitchens are not impacted by the CFL. All CFLs have some limitations, which may include not being able to hire additional employees, not earning more than a certain amount each year, not being able to sell wholesale, etc., so if you live in a CFL state and are successful with your business you will eventually need a commercial kitchen anyway if you want to expand.

Plus in some areas zoning laws or HOAs may prohibit home-based businesses. If you live in one of those areas and you can't get an exemption, you can't legally run a home-based bakery even if your state has a CFL.
post #3 of 116
Thread Starter 
I have a licensed, permitted, inspected commercial kitchen so I not waiting on it to pass to start a business. The CFL is being brought up in Alabama legislature now.

I was just wondering how something like that works. From my quick overview, it kinda feels like this "under the CFL, a home baker can bake and sell til her hearts content without those pesky inspectors coming around, while those permitted kitchens will still be under the health departments microscope."

Jason, you and I had a discussion a while back about home bakers and business. Now I find myself looking at it in another way. I'm not knocking home bakers mind you but it just feels different with a state's legislature signing off on it.
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post #4 of 116
Quote:
Originally Posted by cakelady2266

I was just wondering how something like that works. From my quick overview, it kinda feels like this "under the CFL, a home baker can bake and sell til her hearts content without those pesky inspectors coming around, while those permitted kitchens will still be under the health departments microscope."


That's pretty much how it works, and an influx of new legal home bakeries can cause challenges for existing businesses. The best thing you can do is press your competitive advantages, since you will be able to do things CFL bakers can't. Just the fact that your kitchen is inspected by the health dept and CFL kitchens aren't can be highlighted and may be a selling point to some customers.

If you are renting your kitchen by the hour, another option would be to take advantage of the cost savings of baking from home under a CFL by setting up a separate business entity that could handle the simpler orders (you would need to be careful to keep the two businesses separate). This would give you two tiers of offerings so you could compete with home bakeries for midmarket customers while still giving you the option of selling wholesale, using potentially hazardous ingredients, etc. for orders routed to your commercial business.
post #5 of 116
Jason_kraft hit on this briefly, but most CFLs don't allow the production/sale of potentially hazardous foods, which I think is a huge advantage to those with commercial kitchens. That severely limits the kinds of frostings and fillings a CFL baker can use--no fresh fruit, no meringue buttercreams (right?), most versions of cream cheese frosting, and anything else that would require refrigeration. Even though I am all for CFLs, I can totally see why someone like you, who has invested the money to go commercial, would be concerned and perhaps think it unfair.
post #6 of 116
I was very suprised by the lax in Indiana's cottage food law. I would have assumed they wanted to inspect my kitchen and they do not, in fact I do not even have to register with anybody. I think it should be a little more watched, and I am a home baker. I also run a home childcare and my kitchen is inspected 3 times a year for that. I just dont understand the difference. Most people do not understand the difference between a clean counter and a sanitized counter so in my personal opinion there should be a little more control.
post #7 of 116
I operate my business under a CFL so I will tell you about MY experience. My kitchen was inspected my the Dept of Agriculture, I still need business licenses and appropriate insurance. It's true that there aren't random inspections (how would they even know if I'm home? I don't have business hours). It's cheaper because I don't pay rent. There are downsides/limitations though. No refrigerated items, Im allowed to have only one employee, plus I'm limited my the size of a regular home kitchen (granted if I had a basement or something to convert, that would be different). This works for me for now because this is more or less a hobby that I want to be paid for at this point (I still have a 40-hr/wk job). As I grow and expand my business, I will outgrow these restraints VERY quickly.
post #8 of 116
I think the big push for CFLs lately is to encourage small businesses. "Let's make it as easy as possible" seems to be the attitude. There is currently a glut of bakers in Texas since our CFL went into effect in September, and yes, I am one of them. BUT I have a restaurant background and I do understand the difference between clean and sanitized. I'm also a Master Bookkeeper and have a strong accounting and business background.

I think you'll find that the ones who don't know what they're doing will be weeded out quickly and the ones who do will go on to open commercial shops. Our income limit in Texas is $50K. When I get close to that, I'll be opening a shop.
post #9 of 116
I am in Texas and am operating under our CFL. The spirit of the law is a buyer-be-ware and the health department does not inspect, however there IS record kept of any complaints.

The law IS limiting:
*I cannot produce anything that needs refrigeration (which is VERY limiting on icing type, fillings, cheesecakes, ect)
*I HAVE to place a sticker on EVERYTHING I make that says Made in an uninspected home kitchen.
*All transactions need to occur in my home. I cannot take online orders. The order needs to either be picked up in my home, the customer needs to visit the home for consultation or the payment needs to be mailed to my home. This means that I cannot sell to businesses or organization that will sell my products.

So there are many limitations (including the income limit) that give the Licensed kitchen a bigger advantage. Just as there are things that give me an advantage under the CFL. The spirit of the law is to let people legally bake from home to establish a business in a small proportion (very limiting to how much I can produce when it is just me!)

Stephanie
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post #10 of 116
The funny thing about the CFL's is that most of the people that make cakes are not even aware of them. I teach cake decorating and I have probably 60% of the class say they want to be able to sell their items when the are able to really put together a nice cake. I used to tell them what they needed to do, insurance, sanitation and food safety course, but they seemed to skip over all that when they talked about selling again. I finally quit saying anything and let them go on with their dream but I sure wish their buyers luck so they do not get food poisoning due to the fact that the seller was ignorant of the rules or just did not care to pursue the information. thumbsdown.gifthumbsdown.gif

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post #11 of 116
Quote:
Originally Posted by traci_doodle

Jason_kraft hit on this briefly, but most CFLs don't allow the production/sale of potentially hazardous foods, which I think is a huge advantage to those with commercial kitchens. That severely limits the kinds of frostings and fillings a CFL baker can use--no fresh fruit, no meringue buttercreams (right?), most versions of cream cheese frosting, and anything else that would require refrigeration.



While technically some of those items might not be allowed under a CFL, there's no inspection whatsoever(at least in AZ), so while the rules say one thing, the lack of enforcement says you can do whatever you want.
post #12 of 116
But some of us are going to obey the law even if no one comes around to check up on us. Call me a prude, but there are some things you just don't do.
post #13 of 116
Quote:
Originally Posted by PieceofCakeAZ

While technically some of those items might not be allowed under a CFL, there's no inspection whatsoever(at least in AZ), so while the rules say one thing, the lack of enforcement says you can do whatever you want.


A lack of enforcement on the part of the health department does not necessarily mean a lack of enforcement on the part of competitors. In every CFL the health dept does have the authority to inspect the premises if there is a complaint.
post #14 of 116
Quote:
Originally Posted by jgifford

But some of us are going to obey the law even if no one comes around to check up on us. Call me a prude, but there are some things you just don't do.



While that is true for some, many will think "I'm not going to lose this order and I'm going to refrigerate it anyway, so what's the difference if it's kept at 38* in my fridge or 38* in a commercial fridge". Those that were doing business out of their homes before it was legal aren't changing their recipes and revamping everything because now they are legal, with minimal restrictions. Of course YMMV.
post #15 of 116
Quote:
Originally Posted by jason_kraft

Quote:
Originally Posted by PieceofCakeAZ

While technically some of those items might not be allowed under a CFL, there's no inspection whatsoever(at least in AZ), so while the rules say one thing, the lack of enforcement says you can do whatever you want.


A lack of enforcement on the part of the health department does not necessarily mean a lack of enforcement on the part of competitors. In every CFL the health dept does have the authority to inspect the premises if there is a complaint.



As a competitor, how do you know what I am putting in my fillings? You don't.
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