Friday, February 03, 2012

I need your help.

For those of you who do not live in Texas and maybe for those of you that do I would like to explain about the Texas Cottage Food Law and why I need your help.

Awhile back it was illegal to run a "food establishment" from a residential kitchen, even if your product was low-risk baked foods like cakes and cookies. Basically, you could not have a legal home bakery. I found out about this as I was making cakes for friends of mine. I've been following this law as it was fought for by everyday home bakers all across Texas and they finally won! Our governor signed it into law last June, 2011.

This was great news! But of course even though the law already went into effect there are political groups that "couldn't win in the Legislature, so they're trying to circumvent the system and re-write our law behind closed doors", basically creating so much red tape that it would make it nearly impossible for anyone to run a home bakery.

One of the new regulations of the Texas Cottage Food Law is that all the baked goods will have a label attached to them letting the customer know where this product was made and that it was baked in a home kitchen. This is very reasonable. However, the DSHS bureaucrats want to make these labels so complex as to discourage anyone from even attempting a home business.

"In a nutshell, DSHS has taken these simple labels (which were simply supposed to inform the consumer who they bought their food from, where the food was made, and that the food was made in a home kitchen), and turned them into a bureaucratic string of red tape a foot long. NONE of the labeling rules proposed by DSHS apply to licensed bakeries, food establishments, coffee shops, or doughnut shops. But for some reason DSHS has concluded that in the name of public health, a home baker must weigh a wedding cake and list that weight (in metric) in order to operate a legal business."

Realistically, no customer that orders a wedding cake from me cares how much the final cake weighs in metric. That has no bearing on safety. DSHS also wants to add little things like all ingredients have to be listed in order by weight, and your font size needs to be this, net weight of contents needs to be placed here in the bottom 1/3 of the label, and a special ink needs to be used (so a regular inkjet printer won't make the cut) etc. etc. etc. It's all rather ridiculous and is being used to make the labels so time consuming, expensive, and difficult that home bakes will be discouraged from doing them and therefore make their business illegal. And none of the new additions add to the safety of the consumer.

So here's how you can help me.

At this website:

You can find information about the law and sample letters that can be emailed or snail mailed to help make sure these bureaucratic red tapes rules do not get added on to the already approved Texas Cottage Food Law.

I know you're all busy and this isn't necessarily your fight, especially if you don't live in Texas, but I want to keep making cakes, and I want to sell them, and I want to do it all legally. So, Please help me by sending in a letter. Even a short letter will do. The more, the better.

Thank you so much!


The 30-day public comment period starts January 27 and ends February 26, 2012.
Comments on the proposed new rule may be submitted to Cheryl Wilson, Food Establishments Group, Policy, Standards and Quality Assurance Unit, Division of Regulatory Services, Environmental and Consumer Safety Section, Department of State Health Services, Mail Code 1987, P. O. Box 149347, Austin, Texas 78714-9347, (512) 834-6770, extension 2053, or by email to Comments will be accepted for 30 days following publication of the proposal in the Texas Register.