lhayes1976 Posted 14 Apr 2007 , 5:08pm
post #1 of

Has anyone actually been fined by their local health dept.? I have started selling cookie bouquets to people that have contacted me through friends and relatives. I'd like to put a few flyers up at our local party outlet, but have been warned not to. What does actually happen if you are caught by the health dept. If it's your first offense, do they go easy on you?

62 replies
BrandisBaked Posted 14 Apr 2007 , 5:17pm
post #2 of

I'd call your local health department and ask about the consequences. Better to know what your risking in reality than to take risks based on what may or may not have happened to someone in a different state and with different regulations.

Maybe I've worked in the legal field too long, but I've seen what a litigious nation we've become. Not only are you risking getting in trouble with the health department, but you're risking getting sued as well from someone who simply wants an easy "payday".

Inform yourself about the realities and legalities of what you're doing - and make an informed decision. It's like driving without insurance... you probably WON'T get in an accident, but what if you do?

I'll get off my soapbox now. Sorry... icon_wink.gif

Hippiemama Posted 14 Apr 2007 , 5:25pm
post #3 of

You would receive a fine and would be told you must stop immediately. It might also be published wherever your community publishes health dept. inspections. I know I saw one that mentioned a home baker who was fined for not having a license. That would be terrible for a person's business reputation.

I am new to cake decorating, but love to cook. I have been researching what I need to do to become an official caterer. That's actually what brought me to cake decorating ~ it looks like lots of fun and I would love to be able to eventually offer cakes along with catering services when I open. I plan to open the catering services within about a year, I will consider adding the cakes once I feel my skills are at that level.

Personally, I wouldn't risk being "caught".

kelleym Posted 14 Apr 2007 , 5:34pm
post #4 of

At least two CC members in Texas have recently reported being contacted by their local health departments and been ordered to "cease and desist".

lhayes1976 Posted 14 Apr 2007 , 6:01pm
post #5 of

Lawsuits!! OMG I'm just worried about the health dept. Okay another question--what kind of lawsuits are we talking--food poisoning? I just wanted to sell these bouquets with my daughter to help her have a little spending money while in college. But from the response we've had so far, I think we could actually turn it into a profitable business. There's not a lot of competition--At least I don't think so--there's only one listed in the phone book and you know who that is. Of course I don't know how many other illegals are operating from their home. Like I stated earlier I don't mind going legal if I feel I could actually make a profit. I have the space in my basement and could easily convert a bedroom down there in to a small kitchen. But geez, now I have to worry about lawsuits too. I know just having a state license isn't your only protection against lawsuits. Do you legal beagles also purchase some type of insurance that will cover this? I'm assuming if customers are coming to your house/shop and were injured, your homeowners might cover that, but what about a customer claiming that got sick off of your product?

lionladydi Posted 14 Apr 2007 , 6:16pm
post #6 of

You would have to check the laws in your state about whether you could turn your basement or whatever into a legal kitchen. Once you become a business, your home owner's insurance will not cover anything to do with your business, even someone getting hurt in your shop. We have had the legal vs. illegal so many times on here and it usually turns into something not very nice. JMO

Diane

cakesbyallison Posted 14 Apr 2007 , 6:36pm
post #7 of

Yes, I've been "busted" by our city Health Department (via email!) I had to shut down immediately. It was not by a client but most likely a competitor (they apparently turned it a couple of us). If you do this from your home (and it depends on your state laws) if you advertise or run a website, you certainly are running the risk of getting caught. Lawsuits too... unless you are insured, you are exposed here as well.

After much research and efforts, I have found a commercial kitchen to rent. The facility is in compliance w/ state laws and I have recently been Health Certified by the state (required in Texas), registered with the county clerks office and have obtained insurance (also required). I will officially be "legitimate" May 1st! (I did call my local health inspector back to thank him for his consideration!)

lhayes1976 Posted 14 Apr 2007 , 6:47pm
post #8 of

Just how costly is the insurance?

JoAnnB Posted 14 Apr 2007 , 7:38pm
post #9 of

Once you are legal, you can get insurance. I have a catering/baking operation and 2 million liability for 500 a year.

Hippiemama Posted 14 Apr 2007 , 7:53pm

Can you tell me where you found insurance? I'm starting to research that for my catering business that I'm planning on opening within a year. You can just pm me the info. Thanks!

Andrea

Jenn123 Posted 14 Apr 2007 , 7:58pm

My insurance company told me that if I was running a cake business out of my home, that my regular insurance would be null and void if anything happened. You have to have special insurance (at least in my state/insurance company)

BrandisBaked Posted 14 Apr 2007 , 8:58pm

I have $1,000,000 of liability insurance, and am paying $300/year. It's through American Family.

notjustcake Posted 14 Apr 2007 , 9:04pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by cakesbyallison

Yes, I've been "busted" by our city Health Department (via email!) I had to shut down immediately. It was not by a client but most likely a competitor (they apparently turned it a couple of us). If you do this from your home (and it depends on your state laws) if you advertise or run a website, you certainly are running the risk of getting caught. Lawsuits too... unless you are insured, you are exposed here as well.

After much research and efforts, I have found a commercial kitchen to rent. The facility is in compliance w/ state laws and I have recently been Health Certified by the state (required in Texas), registered with the county clerks office and have obtained insurance (also required). I will officially be "legitimate" May 1st! (I did call my local health inspector back to thank him for his consideration!)




Allison I am so happy for you, glad everything worked out.

Chiara Posted 14 Apr 2007 , 9:10pm

In Ky you cannot legally cook from your home kitchen. That is of course unless you are a farmer. For them they require no licencing.
Please don't fool yourself however, having a licence does not protect you from a lawsuit. It is just one less fine that you would be subjected to.
The health dept. only passes your kitchen on the day they pass inspection. They do not in any way protect you from lawsuits either through food poisoning or accidents.
Good luck

cathyfowler662 Posted 14 Apr 2007 , 9:13pm

What about if someone keeps telling people to order cakes from me. I don't tell anyone that I make cakes but a friend at work is always telling people to order from me. Whenever that happens, I even need to buy the pans that I need!

gingersoave Posted 14 Apr 2007 , 9:15pm

My husband is in the insurance business and yes there are sue happy people looking to cash in on anyone they can. In VA I believe our homeowners umbrella policy covers this type stuff but not sure about KY. Also, have you considered doing the cookie bouquets for a "donation"? Meaning that you would not "charge" them as a business transaction but rather take a "donation" from them? That may help out as far as not getting the license, not sure though. Just a thought. I did my cake business out of my home for years and no one ever had an issue. One of my Wilton students recently got her home inspected and got her license and she said that he just went thru very quickly. So sounds like it may not be a bad idea to get licensed where you are "just in case".

BrandisBaked Posted 14 Apr 2007 , 9:17pm

Having a license does offer a certain amount of protection and gives a line of defense. It proves that you are operating legally, and within the health department's guidelines. Without any type of inspection, you have no proof your kitchen isn't infested with rodents, etc.

Anyone who gets "busted" or sued will surely clean up the mess then (before anyone sees)- but that doesn't prove to a court that you had any knowledge of safety and sanitation, or that you were operating within state and federal guidelines.

This isn't PROTECTION from lawsuits, but it can limit your liability. You still need liability insurance (which is cheap, compared to a lawsuit).

My advice - don't bake from home unless you are not doing it for pay. I'd ask someone to provide the ingredients if you want to keep doing cakes or cookies without incurring the expense - but you're asking for a world of trouble if you get caught, or someone tries to sue you.

That's my only issue with home bakers - I worry about someone losing their home, etc. Where will you bake from then?!? icon_wink.gif

kelleym Posted 14 Apr 2007 , 9:19pm

There are only a handful of states where you can get a license to operate out of your existing home kitchen, so it's not a matter of running out and getting a license "just in case".

Believe me, from reading these threads day after day, I believe the vast majority of home bakers would be licensed and legal if they could be.

marthajo1 Posted 14 Apr 2007 , 9:30pm

Yes I would but we would be talking major expense! I live in California.

mjs4492 Posted 14 Apr 2007 , 9:32pm

Amen Kelley thumbs_up.gif

lhayes1976 Posted 14 Apr 2007 , 9:33pm

I just read the KY requirements and I can have kitchen in my basement. It just needs to have two/three compartment sink, washable floors and walls, adequate plumbing, and the usual sanitation requirements. Some said earlier that your homeowners would be null and void. Am I to take it that my existing policy would cancel and I would have to get a whole new policy or just a new for the business? I don't ever plan on having customers come to my home. I just want to take orders by phone or e-mail. So I don't see why this should effect my homeowners if actual customers aren't entering my home.

lhayes1976 Posted 14 Apr 2007 , 9:42pm

My husband and I were discussing this over lunch yesterday. We both decided that the government seems to always be helping the big guys (corporations and franchises). I'm curious about home based businesses in Europe. Same guidelines?

marthajo1 Posted 14 Apr 2007 , 9:54pm

It is kind of funny because my husband and I were talking about how this is really to protect us. He said would you want to buy a cake not knowing what precautions were being taken for your safety. I was like ya but.... I want to sell my cakes!!

I think I read on here somewhere that some states are even making it hard on the actual bakeries too.

MelZ Posted 14 Apr 2007 , 10:01pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by lhayes1976

I just read the KY requirements and I can have kitchen in my basement. It just needs to have two/three compartment sink, washable floors and walls, adequate plumbing, and the usual sanitation requirements. Some said earlier that your homeowners would be null and void. Am I to take it that my existing policy would cancel and I would have to get a whole new policy or just a new for the business? I don't ever plan on having customers come to my home. I just want to take orders by phone or e-mail. So I don't see why this should effect my homeowners if actual customers aren't entering my home.




The lawsuit issue was the reason that I refused to bake for anyone other than my family for the last 6 years. In July I started doing a little research about it because I was considering starting a business. The insurance wasn't as bad as I thought it would be.

Your liability license covers your business and your homeowners covers your personal stuff. You would need both. I have my insurance through Nationwide Insurance, it is for $1 million & cost $300/year. My agent said the premium is based on sales, so if I were to do $50,000 the premium would be more. The higher your exposure the higher your premium. I have a friend who has a restaurant and she pays $4,000 per month, but then that is based on her sales too. You need to check with the agent to see what the policy specifically covers, and you may have to purchase additional rider policies.

HTH

lionladydi Posted 14 Apr 2007 , 10:22pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by cathyfowler662

What about if someone keeps telling people to order cakes from me. I don't tell anyone that I make cakes but a friend at work is always telling people to order from me. Whenever that happens, I even need to buy the pans that I need!




Just because someone asks you to do a cake for them doesn't make baking it any more legal. If you are afraid of getting caught making cakes for people then you could tell them no. icon_confused.gif

As I said earlier, this always brings out lots of opinions for both sides of the issue.

Diane

mypastrychef Posted 15 Apr 2007 , 3:37am
Quote:
Originally Posted by marthajo1



I think I read on here somewhere that some states are even making it hard on the actual bakeries too.




Thank you for noticing the difference between the home kitchen and an actual bakery. icon_lol.gif

The state of Louisiana is also hard on us bakeries and our inspector comes in every three months. And if she finds contamination she has no problem pouring bleach all over the product. She told us she had to shut down someone illegally serving food and she poured bleach all over $1600 worth of food.

She said if she catches someone setting up a wedding cake without a license she will pour bleach all over the wedding cake and too bad on the bride.

She also told us she recently destroyed $21,000 worth of meats at the Isle of Capri Casino because they were outside barbeque-ing without an
outside food certificate. And that was the mafia! icon_surprised.gif

I don't know what the fines would be.
I did meet a lady that got caught about 15 years ago and she said she would never sell another cake in her house. She said she had to pay a $10,000 fine. And pay back taxes to the IRS.

Sounds like anything is possible, depending on how strict the inspector is.

mpc

MelZ Posted 15 Apr 2007 , 11:40am
Quote:
Originally Posted by mypastrychef


The state of Louisiana is also hard on us bakeries and our inspector comes in every three months. And if she finds contamination she has no problem pouring bleach all over the product. She told us she had to shut down someone illegally serving food and she poured bleach all over $1600 worth of food.

She said if she catches someone setting up a wedding cake without a license she will pour bleach all over the wedding cake and too bad on the bride.

She also told us she recently destroyed $21,000 worth of meats at the Isle of Capri Casino because they were outside barbeque-ing without an
outside food certificate. And that was the mafia! icon_surprised.gif

I don't know what the fines would be.
I did meet a lady that got caught about 15 years ago and she said she would never sell another cake in her house. She said she had to pay a $10,000 fine. And pay back taxes to the IRS.

Sounds like anything is possible, depending on how strict the inspector is.

mpc




IMO that inspector is on a major power trip. I fully understand the need for health inspections and that the rules should apply to everyone, but if that is what she is actually doing, then I think it is wrong. Again, JMO.

gabbenmom Posted 15 Apr 2007 , 8:15pm

Oh yes Melz!!! I completely agree. I can see fining, punishing, but ruining thousands of dollars worth of food and a WEDDING CAKE!!!!! That just isn't right. icon_evil.gif

mypastrychef Posted 16 Apr 2007 , 4:19am
Quote:
Originally Posted by gabbenmom

Oh yes Melz!!! I completely agree. I can see fining, punishing, but ruining thousands of dollars worth of food and a WEDDING CAKE!!!!! That just isn't right. icon_evil.gif




If I understood the inspector correctly she was implying that the product was contaminated (even if it wasn't) and she was following health department code. So I don't think it was out of being evil, she was following the state regulations.

She also said we have to correct any violations because if her bosses come in to inspect behind her, they will want to know why she didn't enforce the rules. Crazy things like painting all exposed wood surfaces even if canned food is stored in these areas. Man we have had to do alot of wild things that really don't make sense! But we sure don't want to get shut down!
mpc

lionladydi Posted 16 Apr 2007 , 4:53am

There are some crazy rules out there when it comes to food handling. I owned a cafe for 13 years and a bar for 13 years and had to be inspected by the health dept. in both. One thing that I got marked down for was the lid not being closed on the dumpster in the alley. Never mind that four different businesses used it! Never understood why the women's trash had to have a lid but the men's trash didn't. I assume because of feminine products but it just seemed stupid.

Can you imagine an inspector coming in and pouring bleach on a wedding cake if you were the bride? I'd be for killing someone!

Diane

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