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

September 9, 2011

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.

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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  • Laura Carter

    Married to a pastry chef, this is excellent news and opens the door to the possibilities of supplemental retirement income. Thanks for the information.

  • http://twitter.com/lizschau liz

    That sounds great, Laura. Good news for him!

  • Rynaldo

    I resent that the law talks about the “cake Lady”.
    Men bake all the time and chuckwagon cooks were mostly men, so why make reference to gender?
    Anyway, my skills in the kitchen will not be twarted.

  • Roseofbellarose

    I just want to say a HUGE THANK YOU to all the folks that worked endlessly to see that this justice was allowed! And to all the talented people out there who LOVE TO BAKE for others….I applaud you on your NEW BUSINESS VENTURES!

  • Msolis

    Great step for the cottage food industry, but if this doesn’t help you in your particular endeavors check out http://www.bakebroilbrew.com for commercial kitchen rental by the hour.

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  • Sanantoniochef

    Commercial kitchen ( or the shared kitchen concept ) is a good idea; however, buyer beware because the cost and accessibility is extremely prohibitive that it’s not feasible for someone who is just starting their business. I personally have check the bake broil place in San Antonio and they are super expensive and so far from where most of the population growth is here in the city that it is not a good option for me as a small, home-based baker. Thank goodness for the new SB 81 law, I wish everyone much success and blessings in their culinary endeavors!

  • lala

    why dose the city of San Antonio against this law?? Why ??