Fact or Fiction: It’s Illegal to Sell Cakes out of Your Home in Some States

This is a fact! New Jersey completely bans the sale of homemade food. In Rhode Island, only farmers can legally sell food made at home, while if they wish to sell jams, fruits pies or syrups, they have to grow the main ingredient.

The biggest issue, of course, is health and safety. In Australia, a home-based caterer was fined over $20,000 after more than 50 people fell ill with salmonella poisoning.

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Up until very recently, Kentucky only allowed farmers or people who grew their main ingredients to become home-based bakers. If you wanted to sell cornbread made in your own kitchen, you would have had to grow the corn, too!

But a new Kentucky law will let anyone start their own home-baking business. It will expand Kentucky’s “home-based processor” program, which lets anyone sell processed fruit and vegetables as well as homemade cakes, cookies, jams and jellies. That makes Kentucky the 48thstate that allows any resident to start a baking business from their own home.

Most states have cottage food laws that allow people to cook and bake foods in their own homes and offer for sale to the public. However, many states only allow home cooks to sell foods that are “potentially non-hazardous,” such as baked goods that do not use cream, meat or custard, candies, dried fruits and pasta, chocolate covered non-perishable foods, vinegars, popcorn, jams and jellies.

All states a declaration stating that the product has been home made, as well as labeling about ingredients, allergens, processing date, etc.

Some states like California, Maine, New Hampshire, Ohio and Pennsylvania allow indirect selling through retailers, wholesalers, restaurants, cafes etc., but others require home cooks to sell directly to customers.

Many states also restrict the dollar amount of sales for home cooks. For example, Washington D.C.’s Cottage Food Act of 2013 allows up to $25,000 a year in sales.

California Requirements for Home-Based Bakeries

California permits home-based food businesses, including bakeries, but you must obtain specific licenses, undergo health inspections, and follow proper procedures. Home-based food businesses in California cannot have pets or children running around in the kitchen space. The California Department of Public Health will come to your home bakery to inspect the kitchen before the bakery can open.

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A California home baker must also have a food handler certification from the California Department of Environment Health and Safety. Additional certification is required for other employees who bake.

Would you buy food from a home-based food business? Would you want to start one? Should the government make it easier for people to sell foods made at home, or do you think the risk of contamination is too high?

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