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Cottage Food Law questions and concerns. - Page 3

post #31 of 116
Quote:
Originally Posted by jason_kraft

Quote:
Originally Posted by ncsmorris

It's true that there aren't random inspections (how would they even know if I'm home? I don't have business hours).


FYI, when you operate out of a rented kitchen with on storefront you probably won't have to deal with random inspections. In Santa Clara County the inspector always contacted us ahead of time to set up an appointment for the inspection so we would be there. Things might be different in other areas or if you have a retail shop with regular posted hours.



True. I was thinking of a store front; I neglected commercial kitchens. The Dept of Agriculture CAN call me at any time to schedule, though she told me they tend to focus more on larger production facilities (more production = more potential people to be harmed by unsafe practices).

Oh also (at least here) no indoor pets are allowed so that interferes with home life quite a bit for some people.
post #32 of 116
Thread Starter 
Well there I have it, I got the facts about the issue. Can't say I understand it or agree with it. But oh well.
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post #33 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.


Such as driving a car without a license because no one stops you at the corner. Or robbing a bank because there's no cop posted at the door. Or stealing a pair of pants because there's no salesclerk within view.

Thank you, jgifford.

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post #34 of 116
Seems the main issue is that **SOME** Commercial kitchen owners **ASSUME** that ALL home bakers, including legal ones under CFL are all a bunch of rednecks who have no clue as to how to produce food safely. This is where this issue ALWAYS gets nasty. Please use caution when mass generalizing on the topic as this is not true. I have worked in commercial kitchens that are inspected yet run filthy food productions.

As I stated, I am a legal business under the CFL in Texas. I am a clean worker. I know how to maintain my kitchen. I also made precautions to keep my business clean and healthy. I converted a bedroom into a bakery room. This keeps all pets, kids, and daily life contaminates out of my food. I only bake in the oven and wash dishes in my kitchen. I have my own refrigerator and storage in my baking room. Now that is not to say that the rest of my house may be a mess (who's isn't, especially when you have 3 orders in a weekend), but my business is it's own entity.

I also follow the law and do not produce potentially hazardous foods. And yes, that means that I took items off my offerings so as to follow the law.

So unless you have seen my production, please do not presume that I am unclean and uneducated in how to run my business. Anyway, does anyone actually have any statistics to stand by these accusations of uncleanliness in home bakeries? Please put some facts to the accusations flying around.

And I understand that commercial bakeries have to jump through lots of hoops to become legal. But that is not my problem. That was your CHOICE. I have followed the law and deserve to be treated with respect (which I AM by my customers) by fellow bakers. I may not have your skill level, but I love what I do and have a loyal customer base who know I produce quality cakes that both look and taste good.
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post #35 of 116
The Texas law was written with the presumption that cottage food operators are "good actors" who want to do the right thing. And from my experience this is largely true.

People who don't want to follow the law were likely operating from home illegally before the passage of SB 81, or are determined to operate however they want no matter what the law says. You can't write laws for lawbreakers.
post #36 of 116
Thread Starter 
smbegg...I'm not making assumptions about anyone's knowledge concerning health codes or skill levels as bakers/decorators. I don't understand how all of a sudden it's okay for some bakers to sell food products from their homes especially without health department inspections. While those of use with inspected kitchens will still be under close scrutiny from state and local health departments. Seems like a double standard to me.

As for some commercial kitchens being nasty, well I've been in some that I don't know how in the world they were allowed to operate. But that having been said those commercial kitchens prepared and cooked real food, which if not handled, prepared and cooked properly can and will sicken and/or kill people. Bakeries on the other hand tend to just be more messy than disease prone. It is kinda hard to kill somebody with a cake I guess.
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post #37 of 116
Quote:
Originally Posted by cakelady2266

smbegg...I'm not making assumptions about anyone's knowledge concerning health codes or skill levels as bakers/decorators. I don't understand how all of a sudden it's okay for some bakers to sell food products from their homes especially without health department inspections. While those of use with inspected kitchens will still be under close scrutiny from state and local health departments. Seems like a double standard to me.
.


Cakelady2266, I've devoted the last 3 years of my life to this cause, and I'm very passionate about it, so I'm going to speak passionately. Please forgive me in advance.

Tonight I was re-reading Joel Salatin's "Everything I Want To Do Is Illegal" and happened across this passage, which seems particularly apropos to your question:

Quote:
Quote:

"We believe that requiring $500,000 processing facilities for a farmer to be able to sell one T-bone steak to a neighbor creates price discrimination against small producers and consumers who want to patronize him. With such large overheads, not only do many would-be solutions-based entrepreneurs never start, but those who do must charge exorbitant prices to their customers in order to recoup the inordinately astronomical facility overhead costs. Critics must argue that Farmer Brown processing one T-bone steak is equivalent to Con-Agra processing 5,000 animals per day."



Substitute "cake" for "steak" and "kitchen" for "processing facility" and I think you'll see where I'm coming from. Why is the barrier of entry so high for something as innocuous as selling cakes and cookies? These are items which are scientifically classified as non-potentially hazardous and have an extremely low chance of making people sick. Selling one cake (steak) to a neighbor is not the same as selling 50 cakes a week. Requiring Americans to invest $20,000 or more in a commercial kitchen, or pay an exorbitant amount of hourly or monthly commercial kitchen rent in order to sell ONE cake, basically excludes small producers from business. It prevents entrepreneurship.

This is not happening "all of a sudden", as you said above, although due to the downturn in the economy, several states have taken steps to encourage jobs and local economies. The local food movement is also growing - people like to know who made their food, where it was made, and how it was made. Many states have had these cottage food laws on the books for many years. Today's "food safety"(* see bottom) laws came around largely due to the public uproar over Upton Sinclair's 1906 book, "The Jungle", which depicted horrible and disgusting conditions in a meat plant -- not home kitchens. Before that, cooking and baking at home was normal. Yes, normal. People baked cakes and bread and cookies and sold them in their local communities, and this was normal. Texas' own Mrs. Baird of Mrs. Baird's Bread began selling homemade bread after she was widowed, and her sons would make deliveries in horse-drawn carriages. She became so successful that she moved to commercial facilities. When she died in 1961, the Texas Senate passed a resolution in her memory and declared Ninnie Baird "a living example for mothers, wives, business executives, Christians and good people the world over."

Most cottage food laws are restricted to non-potentially hazardous food. Many have other restrictions, such as income caps. In Texas, food may only be sold at the producer's home, which is quite limiting for some. Since we are limited in what we can sell, where we can sell, and how much we can make, I do not see how this is a "double standard".

Home kitchens aren't set up for production. You can only do so much before you burn out, or have to move up to a commercial facility, where you would, in return for your investment, have unlimited production capacity and no limits on what, where, and how much you sell.

I read stories every day of people whose lives were transformed for the better by the passage of Texas' law. These people, who never would have been able to build or rent a commercial facility (for a multitude of reasons) have a sense of pride and ownership in contributing to their household's finances while being in charge of their own small-scale business. It's a beautiful thing, it truly is.

Home bakers have been around since ovens were invented. Cottage food laws don't create home bakers, they just bring them out of the shadows.

* "Food Safety" needs to be put in quotation marks, because it's pretty obvious to anyone who's really paying attention that modern "food safety" laws exist to protect the pocketbooks of Big Agribusiness and factory farms. If you've actually read about pink slime you know that we're getting pretty close to being fed government-approved Soylent Green.

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post #38 of 116
Quote:
Originally Posted by cakelady2266

I don't understand how all of a sudden it's okay for some bakers to sell food products from their homes especially without health department inspections. While those of use with inspected kitchens will still be under close scrutiny from state and local health departments. Seems like a double standard to me.


I think CFLs are more about correcting an oversight in food safety laws, which were established by the FDA and adopted by states as a "one size fits all" (at least for the bakery industry) solution without really considering that low volume, low risk suppliers don't need the same amount of oversight as a high volume operation that works with potentially hazardous ingredients.

Low volume home bakers really should have been allowed to legally sell their products with minimal oversight (subject to some restrictions) all along.

I agree that it's a double standard if you compare a CFL state with a neighboring non-CFL state, but it's only a matter of time before either all states pass CFLs or the FDA updates federal law to codify a CFL-type exemption.
post #39 of 116
Thread Starter 
CFL food bakers and sellers wouldn't been as regulated and overseen as inspected bakers. But CFL can bake and sell for the most part like inspected bakers therefore creating a "double standard" because inspected bakers are keeping up to code and jumping through hoops. If baking and selling non inspected is allowed for some why not all. That is what I consider a double standard.

And since there is no inspections for CFL bakers, then issues like... proper time and temperature control, cross contact, proper hygiene, supply storage and placement of chemicals, sewage backup into sinks, etc..can be a health issue. I personally don't think it is okay for a home bakers cat to vomit in the kitchen during a meeting with clients sitting at the kitchen table.

How many of you would eat at a restaurant that was not inspected by the health department? How many of you would eat at a restaurant that had a low health score? Even if it was a donut shop? Think about it?

I fully understand that baking and selling has been around since the dawn of man. Having taken several required food handler safety courses, Hell no I wouldn't buy or eat food of any kind that came from non inspected facilities. And I grew up on a farm.

My shop isn't a storefront bakery but it is considered a commercial kitchen, and it's in my front yard. Becoming legal wasn't just a "choice" for me, it was the only option. After several years of baking in a caterer friends kitchen it became absolutely necessary to have my own space. When I built my shop 14 years ago it was illegal to sell food products from a home kitchen, so I followed the law. So when potential customers would go to home based bakers that sold their products cheaper to stay under the health departments radar, it was something us licensed bakers had to grin and bear. But now it's okay to be an uninspected home baker because the state legislature passed the bill.

I assume the CFL works on the "honor system" so if no one (health agency) is overseeing production to know if things are up to par, then is there no one keeping up with the "income cap" part?

Still passionate AND jumping through hoops.
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post #40 of 116
It is your prerogative to avoid foods from uninspected CFL kitchens, and this information is available to potential buyers since all CFLs require labeling that indicates the food was made in an uninspected kitchen. What buyers decide to do with that information is up to them.

I can see where you're coming from, but investing in your own commercial kitchen was not a waste of money, it is a competitive advantage you have over CFL bakers based on the restrictions in your state. You would be better off putting your efforts into developing new marketing strategies that press these advantages instead of complaining about it.

And it doesn't help anyone to imply that uninspected kitchens are automatically less sanitary than inspected kitchens, either type of kitchen can run the gamut in cleanliness from pristine to disgusting regardless of oversight.

BTW you are certainly free to start your own CFL business in your home kitchen if you want to bake without inspections.
post #41 of 116
Thread Starter 
Jason...I'm not complaining about market strategies or lack of work. I have both strategies and plenty of work. I think fairness to all is my issue. And as I recall you and I had a little debate last year about home bakers underselling and costing licensed bakeries income. You sang a different song then.

Inspections aren't a big whoop for me although they do make my butt draw up in a knot. Alabama health inspectors do not schedule inspections like other states, it's a surprise. But with 14 years of 98's and 99's I'm not doing bad. And it would be utter insanity to close my shop that I help to build with my own hands and work out of my home kitchen. Which is generally a wreck because I'm always working in my licensed kitchen.
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post #42 of 116
Home bakers underselling bakers with commercial kitchens/storefronts has nothing to do with CFLs or inspections. Undercutting can happen with or without a CFL in the state (the only difference is without a CFL they can be shut down, but more will appear in their place).
post #43 of 116
Quote:
Originally Posted by cakelady2266

Jason...I'm not complaining about market strategies or lack of work. I have both strategies and plenty of work. I think fairness to all is my issue. And as I recall you and I had a little debate last year about home bakers underselling and costing licensed bakeries income. You sang a different song then.

Inspections aren't a big whoop for me although they do make my butt draw up in a knot. Alabama health inspectors do not schedule inspections like other states, it's a surprise. But with 14 years of 98's and 99's I'm not doing bad. And it would be utter insanity to close my shop that I help to build with my own hands and work out of my home kitchen. Which is generally a wreck because I'm always working in my licensed kitchen.



I think it's pretty fair. All CFL establishments in each state function under the same laws, while commercial food establishments function under their own laws. A home bakery and a commercial bakery are not the same thing, and thus should not function under the same laws. To make them jump the same hoops? Now that would be unfair.

I would love to add cream cheese (among other things) to my menu, I have just as much knowledge of time and temperature control as the next commercial baker, I also have 2 college degrees in science and healthcare that I can argue set me apart from the commercial baker who just has servsafe under his/her belt. But can I offer cream cheese? NO. NOT FAIR! This fair-not fair argument can go on for days. We're in a way comparing apples and oranges.

The great thing about the US of A is that it's a free country. You think CFLs have it better? Jump on the wagon, there's always room for one more. Whether commercial bakeries like it or not though, this trend is moving forward.
post #44 of 116
Quote:
Originally Posted by cakelady2266

. I personally don't think it is okay for a home bakers cat to vomit in the kitchen during a meeting with clients sitting at the kitchen table.



When I first read this, I had two thoughts - Are you kidding? And secondly, I would imagine if a customer is meeting with a CFL and this happens; they are more likely to leave without placing an order. And if they do place an order chances are they don't care that your inspected kitchen passes inspections with flying colors.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cakelady2266

.
How many of you would eat at a restaurant that was not inspected by the health department? How many of you would eat at a restaurant that had a low health score? Even if it was a donut shop? Think about it?

I fully understand that baking and selling has been around since the dawn of man. Having taken several required food handler safety courses, Hell no I wouldn't buy or eat food of any kind that came from non inspected facilities. And I grew up on a farm.
.



I may not go to an uninspected restaurant to eat, but many times I will go to my uninspected friends home to eat. Can't really recall ever getting sick from it. As for CFL's, most would operate this same way - selling to people they know or friends of friends. Yes, there will be some CFL's that go a little more than that, but they are regulated and also restricted how much they can bake out of their home kitchen.

Botttom line is that it will ultimately be up to the consumer where they would like to purchase their baked goods from. Some will not want to go to a CFL and that will give you an advantage. Some will be more than happy to be able to buy a cake from their friend.

As I said before there really is enough cake to go around and I don't think there is need to feel superior because you have a commercial kitchen and assume that those that don't are making an inferior product. You may say that is not what you are doing, but you kind of are in my opinion.
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post #45 of 116
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Quote:

So when potential customers would go to home based bakers that sold their products cheaper to stay under the health departments radar, it was something us licensed bakers had to grin and bear. But now it's okay to be an uninspected home baker because the state legislature passed the bill.


I'm sorry, I don't understand this. You were fine with illegal competition, but not legal? As I said before, the only thing the cottage food law is going to do is bring your competition out into the open.

You built your commercial kitchen because it was the only option, I understand that. You had no cottage food law at that time. But because you have an established business in a commercial kitchen, you have considerable advantages over home bakers, both legal and illegal.

It disturbs me that you keep returning to hyperbolic, hypothetical "what-if" gross-out situations about home bakers. I could come up with some pretty gross "what-ifs" about commercial kitchens, too. Please include some data about sicknesses that originate from home-baked food vs. commercially prepared food. When you do find this data, you will find that 75% of all food borne illness originates from commercially prepared food.

Commercial kitchens in Texas are inspected once a year (or every two years... or in some cities in Texas, less than that). My kitchen is inspected every day, by me. I have worked in restaurants since I was 16, and have taken food handler's training at least 3 times that I can recall. My 3 kids are still alive, one of them grew up tall and strong and is in the Navy right now. Despite what the Texas health departments would like us to think, there is no epidemic of sicknesses caused by home prepared food, and even the health departments kicking and screaming the loudest against our new law are grudgingly forced to admit that they haven't received a single complaint.

As Jason said so well, this is really about righting a wrong. It should never have been illegal in the first place to sell these types of homemade foods. I hope you can find a way to make peace with the law if it passes in Alabama.
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