I seems that the bakers in the Lone Star state need our help. Texas passed Cottage Food Laws and there was a statewide celebration of bakers ready to fire up their ovens and start the engines of new small businesses. The cheers were quickly silenced however when the realization that the law left the drafting of the rules up to the state regulators and gave them unlimited power. As we all know, ultimate power is never a good thing.
The intent of the law was to make it easier for solopreneurs to start a new business and supplement their income without having to make the huge investment in a licensed commercial kitchen or storefront. Cottage food laws make it possible to test the market, generate income and make it possible to grow a budding baking business slowly .
Leaving room for regulators to write the rules is where the legislators made a mistake. For instance, now there are rules that the home bakers are finding really difficult. An example of one is the strict labeling rules they have put in place. For a Cottage Food label in the state of Texas, the regulators have decreed it must:
have a list of ingredients in descending order of predominance by net weight, including a declaration of artificial color or flavor and chemical preservatives, an accurate declaration of the net quantity of contents including metric measurements and allergen labeling that complies with FDA regulations, a statement that the food was not inspected, suggesting a lack of fitness for consumption, and the usage of permanent ink, ruling out many home printers. The regulations are so riddled with technicalities that many home business owners might also incur legal fees just to ensure compliance and avoid harsh fines or future inspection by the government.
Now I don’t know about you, but that would be tough make a label that meets all the specifications they require. It seems to me that home bakers in Texas might be really frustrated. Since the FDA has set the precedence for non hazardous food production in home kitchens, making a label that suggests you might possibly be harmed by consuming that food seems pretty unfair. I believe that in the research I have done, not many people have gotten sick from the bake sale cookies they bought from their youth group. Therefore, suggesting there is a likelihood of danger is over the top.
Three cheers to the Jason Foscollo law firm for standing up for the home bakers rights. You can read the article he wrote in it’s entirety. He suggests contacting the state law makers to revise the laws to limit what the regulators can require so that the law really does help the economy, access to local healthy food, and the growth of start up businesses.