A Good Day for Home Bakers!

According to a link shared with me by a friend, Senate Bill 81 passed in the state of Texas. This allows for the legal establishment of Cottage Food Preparation Operations (referred to hereafter as CFPO’s), or Home Bakeries. I’ll try to keep this short and to the point to avoid making everyone sleepy…

The link provided by my friend, Brittany, is an article written by Samantha Pitchel at CultureMap Houston…
http://houston.culturemap.com/newsdetail/10-09-11-09-23-cottage-bakery-law-houston/

It doesn’t go into great detail, but it does provide a link to the actual Senate Bill, which I found quite helpful…
http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/tlodocs/82R/billtext/html/SB00081F.htm

If you don’t feel like reading and deciphering all the legal jargon, the bill basically says, in regards to Home Bakers, that we are permitted to sell our baked goods from our homes with certain restrictions. Those restrictions include…

1 ) Selling the items with a non-inspection disclosure stating that the food was prepared in a kitchen that is not subject to routine health inspections. Labeling must also include the name and address of the “cottage food production operation.” The Department of State Health Services does not conduction kitchen inspections for CFPO’s.

2 ) You cannot sell your baked goods through the internet. There is no distinction in the bill between selling and advertising, but the logical interpretation is that the food cannot be shipped, and money cannot be sent via the internet. Since the cottage bakery law only applies to certain counties, and is not legal everywhere, this makes sense.

3 ) To sell your goods at a farmers market, you may acquire a food establishment permit that may be valid up to a year, and may be renewed upon expiration. It also lists regulations for food temperature maintenance when sold at a farmers market.

4 ) Your annual gross income from the sale of baked good cannot exceed $50,000 in order to qualify as a cottage baker.

Home bakers will also now have the ability to acquire a food safety best practice education certificate and the power that certificate has in determining when random inspections are conducted. This prevents home bakers from being harassed by inspection departments. I’ve done some Googling and I can’t find anything specifically called “Food Safety Best Practice Education.” My guess is that they use that phrase as a generic term for any acceptable food safety/handling permit.

Consumers can lodge formal complaints against CFPO’s
and the food safety authority in that county is required to log all complaints. While this isn’t a big hooray for some home bakers, it does help to offer peace of mind to consumers that they do have a course of action in the event of neglect or food mishandling, etc. And in all honesty – this peace of mind gives consumers the confidence we need as home bakers. Without consumer confidence, we wouldn’t make any money.

All in all, since we have no intention of selling our goods at a farmer’s market or via the internet, I’m very happy with this step they’ve made. All we need is a food handlers permit, and the paperwork to register a business and we’re legal 🙂

If my post still isn’t helpful enough, check out the Q and A at the TX DSHS web site. It answered all the questions I had after reading the bill, so hopefully it will be just as helpful for you.

http://www.dshs.state.tx.us/foodestablishments/cottagefood/

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