Just curious with all the health regulations and all the legal blah blah blah we have to go through and how difficult they make it in some states to run a food business, if anyone not fully licensed has ever been "caught" and if so, what happened?
I know lots of people sell cakes out of their homes as a side business, or try to build up clientele before investing $$ in licensing or getting a shop. I did it for 10 years, just once in a while. No one ever ratted me out.
I know we should CYOA, but isn't it a good idea to make sure you can get clients and build up some $$ to pay for licenses before going through with it?
There have been decorators fined and ordered to cease business. You also cannot be insured. It is also possible, that any contract you use may be unenforceable if it went to court.
I don't even want to know what would happen. I assume fines and such. I don't want to find out.
There's the issue of what if someone becomes ill as a result of eating your product. Regardless of how miniscule the possibility is, it could happen and if it does, and the people decide to sue, you aren't covered. If enough people show up at a local hospital or medical center with food borne illness symptoms, they have to report it to the board of health.
And, you never know who will say something. While my health inspector was here for a routine inspection, someone stopped in to ask where a particular address was and we were trying to figure it out when the inspector asked what they were delivering. That's how he found out someone was operating an illegal kitchen from a private residence. They were fined by the city.
We were "kinda" caught. We were working out of a bakery but didn't have our own licensing and we were told we needed to be inspected etc for our company biz (I think they just wanted the $350 ). We opened our own shop shortly afterwards.
Based on conversations I have had with other cake companies, competitors do most of the "turning in" and it definitely happens from time to time (companies pricing too cheaply used to be a target).
FYI... I had an interesting conversation with our new health inspector last week. She came by the shop when we weren't in and called and left a message. I called her back and she said that even though we weren't supposed to be scheduled for inspection until the end of November that they were completely caught up and working a month ahead of schedule.
I was shocked... in Maricopa County the health inspectors had previously been one of the most overworked civil servants you could find. They each had way too much on their plates and the gap between inspections was slowly getting wider. She told me that they had just hired a whole bunch of new people and now they were way ahead of schedule. This is great for the consumer, since more frequent inspections typically mean cleaner establishments, but you have to wonder just how far ahead they are going to get before they start looking for violations in the form of non licensed foodservice vendors.
I'm not saying a crackdown is coming (she didn't say anything to imply it)... but having a the entire health department staff with more free time on their hands can't be great for illegal foodservice businesses. Just thought I'd give a heads up to anyone in AZ.