Friday, September 9, 2011

Texas Cottage Food Law is now in effect; enjoy a legal bake sale today

Posted By on Fri, Sep 9, 2011 at 8:43 AM

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Decorate some cupcakes and have a front yard bake sale. It won’t be illegal anymore. We’ve heard the horror stories -- like 4-year-old Abigail Krstinger’s lemonade stand being shut down by the government due to lack of a $400 permit. Small-scale home-based food sellers are being cracked down on, even if they just so happen to be doe-eyed adorable children. But as of September 1st, the Texas Cottage Food Law was signed into law by Governor Perry, thereby allowing small-scale purveyors to legally sell their food products from their home directly to customers. And it’s about time. Until now, cooks and bakers with product to sell were legally required to make their foods in an industrial kitchen, by renting or buying a space -- something that is much easier (and cheaper) said than done. This legal limitation prevented many cooks and bakers from pursuing their dreams and talents, instead forcing them to sell behind closed doors, not able to fully promote their services. This also limited the amount of local food and commerce accessible to a community. The Cottage Food Law, although a victory for those who like to grow and sell their own, and for those of us who like to support and purchase from those who do, is also very limited. The breadth of the rights of small-scale sellers is pretty minute; sales are limited to cookies, cakes, breads, Danish, donuts, pastries, pies (and other items that are prepared by baking in an oven), canned jams, jellies, and dry herb mixes. That’s it. Nothing more, nothing less. The maximum dollar amount that sellers are allowed to legally rake in per year is $50,000. Other regulations include ridiculously macabre, albeit practical, food labels that warn the consumer “This food is not inspected by the state health department or a local health department” (in the event that any buyers are concerned about food poisoning) as well as the name and address of the food operation. Although, any complaints about a food will be recorded and stored for potential future investigations. Additionally, no sales may be made through the internet. Because the spirit of the cottage industry is small face-to-face sales, internet purchases are prohibited. You also won’t see these sellers at farmer’s markets, craft shows, or roadside stands; sales are strictly intended to be between the seller and the consumer from their home base. So be on the lookout for talented cooks, chef, and bakers finally gaining some visibility, amping up their marketing, and promoting their (legal) local foods.

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Liz Schau is a Certified Holistic Health Counselor who specializes in nutritional changes for women with thyroid disease, food allergies, autoimmunity, and digestive health concerns. You can find her at LizSchau.com.

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