Everyone loves some home baked goods. Cookies, fresh from the oven. Bread, warm and crusty. Flaky, gooey rolls. If you don’t have time to make such things yourself, you can always go to a store to purchase them, or a private bakery to browse through the displays and pick your own to take home.
New Jersey baker Toni Moore just wants to be able to provide that service, too. But she wants to do it in a smaller setting, working out of her own home. Sadly, New Jersey law doesn’t allow home-based baked goods to be sold, despite the fact that unlike other homemade food offerings, the food safety issues are minimal.
Local, home-based bakers have been trying for years to get this law changed, and now, finally, they feel they may be going somewhere. A new bill, Assembly Bill 1244, would allow home bakers to sell their wares, as long as they do so with the baked goods clearly labeled, so that those who purchase them are aware that they were made in a home kitchen versus a professional one. To show her support for this legislation and to encourage others to do the same, Toni Moore created a Care2 petition to put pressure on the New Jersey Senate to pass the legislation.
“This bill permits the sale of home-baked bakery goods under certain circumstances,” reads the legislation. “Specifically, the bill permits a person to sell these bakery goods if the consumer is notified by a clearly visible placard at the point of sale, in a manner prescribed by the Commissioner of Health, that the bakery goods were prepared in a kitchen that is not subject to regulation and inspection by the Department of Health.”
The language is straight forward, the bill intentions clear, the risk minimal. Yet for some reason, a companion bill in the Senate hasn’t gone anywhere, and without it, the new rule can’t become law.
New Jersey is one of only five states in the nation that has no “cottage food law,” a regulation on how to legally prepare and sell food from a home kitchen. According to Forrager.com, a cottage food industry community website, laws began popping up across the country within the last few years as more people began to want to start home-based businesses. “Starting in 2007 and throughout the Great Recession, many more states started adopting such laws to help give their citizens an easier way to make some income, with the side-benefit of helping local economies. Many of the more recent laws used the term ‘cottage food,’ and the name stuck, thereby creating the unofficial ‘cottage food industry.’ The term ’cottage food’ helps describe many of the small and local home-based food businesses (also known as ‘cottage food operations,’ or CFOs) that are cropping up throughout the country.”
With some food preparation, there is a reason to have concern about food borne illnesses. Canning, cheese making and partially-cooked foods have heightened risk for bacteria growth, especially if the kitchen or equipment is unclean, or food handling safety measures aren’t properly followed. According to the CDC, approximately one in six Americans contract a food borne illness each year just via everyday consumption, and products created outside of commercial kitchens, purchased and brought to a home for eating ups that risk.
Baking, however, is one of the least likely foods to cause illness. Referred to as “non-hazardous,” nearly all the states in the country allow limited sale of home baked goods like cake, cookies, pies and bread, as long as some sort of licensing is procured, the goods are sold in small amounts, and they are clearly labeled for the consumers who understand that some risk is involved.
Nearly all states, that is, except New Jersey.
Moore hopes to change that, and demand that the state Senate let bakers bake. You can help by signing the petition and encouraging the state legislature to pass this still languishing bill.
If you, like Toni Moore, have an issue you care about in your area, you can create your own Care2 petition!
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