Truely Confused...one Health Inspector Says One Thing....

Business By sweetcravings Updated 16 Apr 2008 , 4:22am by CoutureCake

sweetcravings Posted 14 Apr 2008 , 2:13pm
post #1 of 14

another one says something completely different!! Who to believe?? icon_confused.gif
Ok so I've been seriously thinking of selling my goods from home and called the health unit about a month ago to see if this was legal to do. THe man i spoke to basically told me, "not allowed at all!!" So i was crushed.
Today...
Was talking on another forum about the 'cake business' thingy and they mention that sometimes farmers markets have different rules when it comes to making cakes etc... So i call the health unit again and speak to another inspector. I ask him if their are different regulations for the markets and he said if i'm selling it retail then yes you have to go through them.BUT here's the kicker...he goes on to tell me (without me asking) that if i decided to sell the cakes out of my home that's fine as well as long as i don't sell it to retail shops. They do not do home inspections! He says that if i want to sell it out of my home "legally' then i can covert a garage etc.. have it inspected etc.. icon_confused.gif Ok. did i miss something in the last call i made??? THat inspector told me no way, no how! This inspector goes on to tell me that if i want to do it without their involvement it was fine as long as i don't sell to stores icon_confused.gif I tell him i would prefer to go the 'legal' route and he then says i should look at church halls etc.. I ask him if they have ever inspected a home based food business on a complaint from a 'customer', he said, "NO". icon_eek.gif He said they may if it were raw chicken or something but bakery stuff.."NO, it's low risk".
I am totally confused that i would have two completely different responses to my questions at the health unit. It was almost like the guy i spoke to today was encouraging me to sell the stuff out of my home, since i wouldn't be checked on anyhow. I don't know who to believe. I have to say i was thrilled to speak to this guy today. I wondering now maybe i should do this out of the house, it sounds like they really don't care if i do it. I know this is a hot topic on this website so i hope this doesn't start another feud. I'm just thinking maybe this can happen for me after all. Especially since i was just going to sell it to mostly family and friends and not go to stores with my stuff.
Have any of you had similar experience with health inspectors? I'm left baffled that there could be such different information given to me about starting up business.
Suzanne

13 replies
costumeczar Posted 14 Apr 2008 , 3:03pm
post #2 of 14

I've had different inspectors tell me different things, and it depends on who you talk to that day, it seems. One person told one of my friends that it was okay to have dogs in the kitchen as long as you weren't baking right at that moment, and another one said that it was no dogs no way. I went the no dogs route to be safe on that one. Another inspector comes in here looking for the sanitizer with his test strips ready, and someone else will come in and just ask if I have working plumbing icon_confused.gif . It really seems to depend on who you talk to. If I were in your position I'd find something in writing about the regulations, since it seems like that's a big difference in the advice that you're getting. There has to be something written somewhere about the laws about home bakeries and who you can sell to. Maybe the department of agriculture? That's who does it in Virginia, I don't know about where you are.

acookieobsession Posted 15 Apr 2008 , 12:19pm
post #3 of 14

sounds like the forst guy was going by the book and the second guy is going with "Don't sk, don't tell"... jsut remember if you go the unlicensed route you will not be able to get liability insurance, or bring cakes into venues.....etc.

HTH JUlia

janebrophy Posted 15 Apr 2008 , 12:32pm
post #4 of 14

Suzanne, where are you located? This sounds alot like my experience with the Health Unit in my area...

southerncake Posted 15 Apr 2008 , 12:36pm
post #5 of 14

I think this is often the case. I can tell you that the farmer's market in our state capital requires proof of an inspected kitchen for baked goods. I am pretty sure our local one does too, but not 100% certain.

I had to just keep calling until I made some progress! Keep your chin up!

c420 Posted 15 Apr 2008 , 12:54pm
post #6 of 14

Sounds like the second guy was telling you, you could sell cakes out your home without a permit, without someone knocking on your door.... until a complaint came in icon_surprised.gif
Personally,I am going through the same thing. Where I am(WI) you have to have a seperate kitchen to be licensed but you can get away with doing them not being licensed. The only thing is, what happens when there is a complaint? You can end up paying BIG bucks...more than it would cost to rent some kitchen space and get a license and insurance. I am looking to do this instead. Also many places won't allow wedding cakes unless you're legit and hey that's a big part of the cake business!
I would check out other options and maybe only do cakes for family and friends til you can get legit. This is what I am doing now. I hope to build some clients before actually having my own actual business!

sweetcravings Posted 15 Apr 2008 , 12:57pm
post #7 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by janebrophy

Suzanne, where are you located? This sounds alot like my experience with the Health Unit in my area...




I live just outside windsor ontario, in tecumseh. Where are you from? It would be so cool to have actually met someone from around home who makes cakes etc..here at cake central. So far i know no one else that does this type of work.

suz

sweetcravings Posted 15 Apr 2008 , 1:02pm
post #8 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by c420

Sounds like the second guy was telling you, you could sell cakes out your home without a permit, without someone knocking on your door.... until a complaint came in icon_surprised.gif
Personally,I am going through the same thing. Where I am(WI) you have to have a seperate kitchen to be licensed but you can get away with doing them not being licensed. The only thing is, what happens when there is a complaint? You can end up paying BIG bucks...more than it would cost to rent some kitchen space and get a license and insurance. I am looking to do this instead. Also many places won't allow wedding cakes unless you're legit and hey that's a big part of the cake business!
I would check out other options and maybe only do cakes for family and friends til you can get legit. This is what I am doing now. I hope to build some clients before actually having my own actual business!




I've already decide that if i do persue the home route i will definitely only keep it to business for family and friends...no weddings since it's then dealing with large quantitiy of people. I know that is where the money is at but it's ok with me for now. Plus i hate the stress of wedding cakes anyhow.
This health unit guy said strait out..we do not inspect homes and he also said they have never gone into a home on a complaint. So i'm not all that worried about the Health unit now, it's more government. Since i wouldn't be able to register as a business I would have to do all the money stuff under the table..risky.

janebrophy Posted 15 Apr 2008 , 2:01pm
post #9 of 14

I live near Brockville Ontario! Really neat to find someone in the same province! The health unit here told me that I can sell cakes from home, they do not inspect home kitchens. I am hoping to open up a catering business from home, so I called them re: catering, and was told by my local inspector that as long as I am catering to invited guests, that I could prepare food anywhere I wanted, no inspections....If I were to cook in an inspected kitchen, ie a community or church hall, I would be expected to abide by safe food handling procedures. I am hoping to convert my garage into a commercial kitchen, and have the contractor coming out this week. The HI told me that he should be present once the reno starts in case there were things to be added to the build that I am not aware of. So, all in all, in Ontario, I am finding that the inspection procedure is not really set up for "home cooking/baking businesses". There are a lot of loop holes that really enable people to sell from home, whether this is a good thing, I guess depends on the circumstance. I work in Food Service in the Hospital/Nursing home sector, and was shocked at the lack of regulation for home business, simply because at work I jump thru hoops to follow Ministry guidelines. I'm sorry this is so long...I've got a lot to say on the subject icon_redface.gificon_biggrin.gif , I've been looking into it for a long time!!

janebrophy Posted 15 Apr 2008 , 2:07pm
post #10 of 14

[quote="sweetcravings"]

Quote:
Originally Posted by c420

Since i wouldn't be able to register as a business I would have to do all the money stuff under the table..risky.




Why wouldn't you be able to register your business?? If you make less than $7000/year income, you are not required to register your business anyway. Don't quote me on that figure, but I'm 99% sure that is the magic number. The cash part shouldn't be much of a problem, not nearly as risky as you might think. Until you surpass that dollar amount, and then you have to register.

sweetcravings Posted 15 Apr 2008 , 4:50pm
post #11 of 14

[quote="janebrophy"]

Quote:
Originally Posted by sweetcravings

Quote:
Originally Posted by c420

Since i wouldn't be able to register as a business I would have to do all the money stuff under the table..risky.



Why wouldn't you be able to register your business?? If you make less than $7000/year income, you are not required to register your business anyway. Don't quote me on that figure, but I'm 99% sure that is the magic number. The cash part shouldn't be much of a problem, not nearly as risky as you might think. Until you surpass that dollar amount, and then you have to register.


\\

Ohhhh I didn't know that! I always thought you had to claim money on stuff you sold..any amount. That makes me feel better about it. 7000.00 in cookies etc.. is alot of product. I would really be surprized if it went beyond that at this point. Especially since i would be keeping it low key. Thanks for the info. I'm still in the learning phase of starting this up. I have so much to think about and figure out. I spent most of the morning just price comparing at grocery stores etc..trying to figure out what it would cost to make my product. I haven't even gotten to the other stuff yet. Up until now i kinda put the idea on the back burner since my first call to the health unit was not really in my favor. Now i'm rethinking everything. Thanks for the help.
suz

sweetcravings Posted 15 Apr 2008 , 4:58pm
post #12 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by janebrophy

I live near Brockville Ontario! Really neat to find someone in the same province! The health unit here told me that I can sell cakes from home, they do not inspect home kitchens. I am hoping to open up a catering business from home, so I called them re: catering, and was told by my local inspector that as long as I am catering to invited guests, that I could prepare food anywhere I wanted, no inspections....If I were to cook in an inspected kitchen, ie a community or church hall, I would be expected to abide by safe food handling procedures. I am hoping to convert my garage into a commercial kitchen, and have the contractor coming out this week. The HI told me that he should be present once the reno starts in case there were things to be added to the build that I am not aware of. So, all in all, in Ontario, I am finding that the inspection procedure is not really set up for "home cooking/baking businesses". There are a lot of loop holes that really enable people to sell from home, whether this is a good thing, I guess depends on the circumstance. I work in Food Service in the Hospital/Nursing home sector, and was shocked at the lack of regulation for home business, simply because at work I jump thru hoops to follow Ministry guidelines. I'm sorry this is so long...I've got a lot to say on the subject icon_redface.gificon_biggrin.gif , I've been looking into it for a long time!!




Best of luck in your renovation. I wish i had the garage/house space to do something like that. It would be so much nicer to have a separate space that i could close the door and leave everything there. That's the one thing i don't like about the idea of doing it out of home..the mess. Since i use my kitchen to make dinenr etc.. i will have to plan things really well so that i'm not running into meal time.
You are right there seems to be so many interpretations for the regulations by the health unit. I learnt that this week. I just don't know who to believe.

pinkbox Posted 15 Apr 2008 , 5:16pm
post #13 of 14

I think that depends on where you are too... here in Texas I was told if you make $500 or more you had to claim it... (my tax person)

As for the confusion with the inspector.. I settled my "grease trap" confustion by going down there and getting it from the horses mouth and got everything in writing.

Always Cover Your Rear with paperwork

CoutureCake Posted 16 Apr 2008 , 4:22am
post #14 of 14

After reading your post a little deeper, both inspectors answered your question based on HOW you asked it: If you want to sell cakes legally retail, you need to be licensed is what the one inspector told you. The second inspector you talked to answered the "is it legal to sell cakes without a license at a farmer's market followed up with how to get your home licensed (which he's likely answered a million times so just answers it automatically)" question for selling cakes retail with the space conversion.

Retail is usually translated to mean that you're SELLING cakes to another person for profit in most states. Where the one inspector was likely referring to was it's not illegal to have someone reimburse you for ingredients type of situation. It's a VERY fine line!!! I would go with what the 2nd inspector told you on what processes you need to go through to become licensed. For what you can purchase used equipment for and do some remodelling work (if your local authorities allow)given how flooded the used equipment market is now, it's just not worth the risk.

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