Hearing on Tuesday March 24.
Can anyone comment on this?
I am a home-based baker and I make quite a bit of money, in the upper 1,000's per month on specialty cakes. All by word-of-mouth, around 15 cakes per month, as a side job. All of my customers sign a contract stating they understand I'm a home-based bakery and that I assume no liability or make any guarantees since I'm not regulated. We have full disclosure of our practices to our clients and it is the customers' choice to choose me in the end.
I live in Texas and went to culinary school here. When I was in school I supported this proposition thinking I could make some extra money and build up a client list, if only I could make stuff easily from home. Now that I've worked as a professional for 5 years, I realize how misguided it is.
I did a little research on states with approved home baking businesses. North Carolina is one; I read their policy online. The home cannot have ANY pets, at any time. That doesn't mean pets who stays outside during the day, or are off limits in the kitchen. None at all. They also have a specific list of foods that can be manufactured for sale from home. But I didn't see anything regarding other health code necessities, like always wearing a hairnet in the home. In short, the law is very vague and doesn't protect the consumer at all. Someone can easily make the home appear legal for an inspection, but there's no way to make sure it stays that way.
1. I think health codes are very important to protect consumer health. Someone already mentioned storing raw meat above salad greens, etc. I have to yell at "professional" cooks all day long to properly store and process food, I can't imagine what unregulated home cooks are doing.
2. I firmly believe it WILL hurt mom & pop bakeries. Wal-Mart is the #1 grocery in the United States. The majority of America buys its food at Wal-Mart first, other grocery retailers second. It is very hard to convince consumers to make an "extra" trip to buy bread or pastries from a specialty shop (not impossible, but hard), and to justify the cost of those goods when they can get crappy versions cheaply from the grocery store. Now we're going to further dilute that market share by giving them a choice to buy special occasion cakes or goods from Sally Homebaker, who doesn't have to pay overhead or employees or keep inventory.
3. Our profession as a whole has been diluted tremendously by pastry/cake hobbyists. I used to have to buy specialty tools (for example, gumpaste flower supplies) from professional sources. Now anyone can trot down to Hobby Lobby and buy a kit for less than $30. Everytime I log onto Craigslist, I type in "cakes" for the "services provided" out of curiosity. There are many homebakers in my area who advertise cakes "for my portfolio". They request money for supplies and then charge fees, like delivery fees, that are not payment for the actual cake making on the surface, getting into vague legal territory. The HD has shut down some of the more blatant ones, but they're still there, making food for public consumption in unregulated spaces.
4. I have to pay money for food manager's certification, plus fees for starting a business, plus start up costs to practice my profession. I don't agree that some people can just bypass these steps by a backdoor "get out of jail free" card. They should have to go through the same process and be subject to the same business laws as everyone else. Laws are in place to protect the public AND create a level playing field for everyone. There are several kitchen rental spaces in my town - I'm all for it. They still have to get all the necessary legal paperwork in place for a food business, and it helps someone just starting out tremendously by giving them a health department approved place to work for little cost. Let's focus all the energy and resources on getting more kitchen rentals going, instead of a misguided law to allow home baking.
5. Health inspectors are already stretched beyond their means to inspect professional food businesses. It's unrealistic to think Texas can staff a government office - or PAY for it - to handle the crushing load of homebakers who would jump on this. Furthermore, I prefer Texas to use government money to fix other problems in the state - like the fact multiple elementary, middle, and high schools are slated to be shut down in the capital Austin - rather than create the ENORMOUS burden of regulating potentially thousands of home kitchens.
6. Some of us went to culinary school. Some of us just got jobs in a kitchen and worked our way up. But we are all professionals who dedicated ourselves to the culinary profession and work hard to provide customers with great breads, pastries, cakes, and confections. Keep hobbyists and homebakers out of selling goods to the public let the professional pastry chefs do their jobs.
Well, I was going to say "there's my 2 cents" but I guess its more like 2 dollars -
I take serious offense to your second paragraph. I charge fair market prices to my customers and am not lacking in the skill and/or equipment to compete on a professional level. This is a very degrading statement regarding people that you do not even know.
As for insurance, I have a reasonable rate for liability insurance and it is easy to get.
Paperwork will get tedious, but when I am providing a wonderful item at a great price for people who cannot afford high commercial bakery prices, and assisting in providing for my family, I say it is all worth it.
I do believe that there is enough cake business to go around, and as for advertising, word of mouth has worked for me for 17 years :)
As of June 1, 2011: The bill is sitting on Texas Gov Perry's desk waiting for signature. It was changed quite a bit from its original version; the current bill allows for sales of non-hazardous goods to be sold ONLY directly from the home to the consumer. NO internet sales, NO farmer's markets, NO wholesale, etc. And it specifies NO REGULATION. It's grossly misrepresented as "The Texas Bakers Bill," when in reality it's directed towards cake hobbyists. I still think it'll create an avalanche of people misrepresenting themselves to sell home baked products over the internet (hello, Etsy), at farmers markets (how many non-professional culinary people ever ask where a product was made?), and wholesale (hopefully the small grocery businesses around here will be smart enough to check credentials). The final version isn't as threatening to professional bakers and pastry chefs as the original was, but it still creates one giant gaping LOOPHOLE for people to abuse.
I think the proliferation of farmers markets have been the driving force behind the home-based licensing issue. Just my opinion. Arizona just had a bill signed by the governor to allow for the production of non-perishable candies & confections out of the home. I have yet to see any regulations written on the matter, and a call placed to our local health department (which seems to have no lack of funds) has not been returned. I'll keep this thread posted IF I find anything out.
Regardless of where you make your product, you should have insurance (can't get a business license here without it), and a limited liability corporation established to, well, limit your liability. And a Federal EIN and state tax license. Plus an I've already done all the legwork for setting up a business but can't find a commissary kitchen to rent that's less than 15 miles from home. They are in very limited supply here, but I'm still trying. I had a friend agree to let me use his kitchen, so I turned down another offer only to have the friend renege on me at the 11th hour. Some friend.
One thing I had to take exception to in this thread is the comment that because you're a home-based baker you're producing an inferior product and under-charging. I do not agree with this mindset. Health department issues aside, I doesn't matter where the product is made. It matters how it's made. I worked briefly for a person who is considered one of the top pastry chefs in this area. I do not care for the cakes or many of the products this person makes. I know many others who agree with me. If people are undercutting the competition, there's not much anyone can do about it. It'll be their loss in the long run anyway.
I'm also guessing that if the HD does finally get the regs in place for home-based businesses, they'll be tough to meet and very strict. Historically, that's been their M.O. I welcome that. That's what the taxpayers should expect. Besides, they hired 7 new inspectors in the past year. From what my restaurant friends tell me, the inspections that used to last 30-40 minutes (for a 700 sq. ft. cafe) are now 2 hours long. One friend got written up for a minimal amount of dust that had accumulated around an A/C vent. Guess the inspector couldn't find anything else.
Not everyone should get licensed. But they do anyway.
I finally got a call back from the health department on the Arizona bill allowing for production of non-perishable candies & confections. The guy who called me had NO idea that the bill even existed. He said he'd get back to me.
FYI - On the other hand, I have also requested an inspection because I FINALLY found a commercial kitchen to lease for one day a week. I did ask the guy about the procedure on getting licensed, and I will have to get three permits - one for the kitchen and one to hand out samples. As far as I'm concerned, it's just another way for them to get more money. Each permit costs from $165 to $315. One is for a site plan permit, which is the same that you get for opening a restaurant. AND, I also have to get my car approved because it's not an SUV or a truck. That's the third permit. Say whaaaaat????? As long as I can show them the container that I will be transporting the pre-packaged food I'm selling, I will get the permit for my car. And they want to see the samples.
I feel I'm drowning in inanity. Not insanity, inanity. It's more relevant.
Pete, thanks for the link.
I can understand all the back and forth comments re home bakery. Some home bakers are as good as commercial , maybe better.
But the fact remains if God forbid someone gets sick and it can be traced to you. Without proper insurance you could in reality lose everything. Someone above mentioned they make potential customer sign a contract that if something happens they don't assume liability.
I don't care what state your in they will sue and if they can pove negligence your dead they will be able to collect from you, and would most likely also sue the place you purchased your igredients. Example if their was an animal in the house , not enough hot water, flies or bugs, lack of proper refrireration or ventalation. and a host of other things. It's not worth the hastle or future problems
I am not for it, however I would sooner see people taking some initative wrather then going on welfare and food stamps which in the long run cost us more. 99% of them wont last anyway.
I will not purchase any item from any purveyor unless it is delivered in a refrigarated truck, your looking for trouble.
Absolutely not one difference between baking, catering, having paid guests to the house. Same coolers only no commercial inspectionthe house.
I had a 4 hr talk with my wife last night and we decided if the bill passes here or they don't do something about the home people we are
out. The aggrivation and the lack of support from the professional community it's not worth it at our age.