I got this directly from the dept of agriculture today about home based bakeries. Im very disappointed because of having animals I will not be able to sell cakes from home. Here is the info I received today.
HOME-BASED FOOD PROCESSORS
A GUIDANCE DOCUMENT PREPARED BY THE:
PENNSYLVANIA DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
BUREAU OF FOOD SAFETY & LABORATORY SERVICES
DIVISION OF FOOD SAFETY
2301 NORTH CAMERON STREET
HARRISBURG, PA 17110-9408
(717) 787- 4315
Home kitchens may be used for the processing of certain foods for sale to the public. The foods are limited to those that will not support the growth of pathogenic organisms and do not require a form of temperature control, such as refrigeration or heating. The foods are classified as non-potentially hazardous foods.
Non-potentially hazardous foods that may be processed in a home kitchen may include:
Cakes, fruit pies, breads, rolls, brownies, cookies, fruit pastries, muffins, etc.
Jams and Jellies
Fruit varieties, etc.
Acidified Foods (Equilibrium pH of 4.6 or lower)
Salsa, pickled vegetables, hot sauces, etc.
Lollipops, fudge, chocolate, rock candy, hard candy, etc.
Potentially hazardous foods may be prepared in a home, if processed in a kitchen other than what is used for home-use and the facility has its own outside entrance.
For safety, time and/or temperature controls are needed to limit pathogen growth or toxin formation in potentially hazardous foods.
Potentially hazardous foods may include, but not limited to, any of the following products:
Cheesecakes, layer cakes with fresh fruit, cheese-filled products, pumpkin pies, custard pies, meringue pies, meat-filled products, etc. In general, most products that would require temperature control of the finished product.
The exception to this rule is low acid canned food (ph above 4.6), which can not be processed in a private residence.
Home processors, wholesale only, are regulated under the PA Food Act [Act No. 70, July 7, 1994, as amended (31 P.S. 20.1 et seq)]. Regulations are adopted under the Federal acts which relate to food.
In some cases, the home-based food business may retail the products directly to the consumers on premises, phone sales, internet sales, door-to-door, etc. Under these circumstances, the business would be regulated under
The PA Code, Title 7. Agriculture, Chapter 46 Food Code.
Under the current law, both retail and wholesale operations are registered with a $35 fee.
Some establishments are inspected by the Department, but are exempt from the $35 registration fee:
1. Vehicles used to transport food products.
2. 50% of the commodities sold were produced on the land on which the food establishment is located.
3. A food establishment selling food and beverages through vending machines.
4. A food establishment that sells only prepackaged, non-potentially hazardous food or beverage.
1. The Department will not approve a home-based food establishment where there are pets in the home that have free reign such as dogs, cats, etc.
The pets are not permitted in the home at anytime during the period the home-based food business is inspected and registered by the Department.
2. Children and infants are not permitted in the kitchen area during the processing for retail sale and/or wholesale business.
3. When processing for retail sale and/or wholesale business, no other activities may take place in the kitchen area, such as family meal preparation, etc.
4. All ingredients, equipment and supplies for the retail and/or wholesale food business must be kept separate from what is used for home-use. A separate drawer, shelf, cabinet, pantry shelf, etc. may be used. All ingredients, equipment and supplies must be properly stored and maintained.
HOW TO GET YOUR BUSINESS STARTED:
1. Contact your governing municipality (borough, township, or city) to determine if whether or not there are any local ordinances that would prevent a home-based food business. The Department will not supersede the governing municipality, if there is a local ordinance that prevents a home-based food business.
2. Obtain written approval from governing municipality. Letter will be turned over to the PDA sanitarian during home visit for inspection and registration. Business owner should keep a copy of letter on file.
3. So that you may receive the most accurate information during your initial contact with PDA, be prepared to discuss the specific type(s) of food products that you would like to process in your home.
4. Water used for the home-based food business must be from an approved source, such as municipal water. If source of homeâs water is a private source (well), the water must be tested and approved before PDA home kitchen inspection. (Contact nearest PDA Regional Office for lab info.)
5. Certain products may require laboratory testing
to verify product pH, water activity, % solids, etc. [Contact PDA Regional Office or Harrisburg Office to verify if whether or not initial lab testing is required for your product(s).]
6. Contact nearest PDA Regional Office:
Region I â 13410 Dunham Rd.,
Meadville, PA 16335
Region II - 542 Country Farm Rd., Suite #102,
Region III â Rt. 92 South , P.O. Box C
Tunkhannock, PA 18657
(570) 836 - 2181
Region IV - #6 McIntyre Rd., Gibsonia, PA 15044
Region V - 1307 7th St., Cricket Field Plaza
Altoona, PA 16601
(814) 946- 7315
Region VI - 1030 Maclay St., P.O. box 5184
Harrisburg, PA 17110
(717) 346 - 3223
7. During the initial inspection of the home-based
food operation, the sanitarian will record the product (s) menu. All additions or revisions to the original menu after the initial registration must be communicated to regional PDA Food Safety Office.
Product label Information
1. Product labeling is required for prepackaged food
2. Required label information:
- Common name of product.
- Name and address of productâs manufacturer or distributor. (For a home-based food processor, it is recommended that a post office box be used.).
- Net weight in terms of weight, measure, or count.
- Ingredients listed in descending order from most to least.
- Food establishments registered with the Department may label their food products as âReg. Penna. Dept. Agr.â.
1. Bakery goods sold at retail by the bakery directly to
the consumer in a retail establishment operated by the
2. Bakery products sold to a food service establishments,
when labeling information is available to the public on
the premises of the food service facility.
A sign or placard listing the ingredients in descending order of predominance by weight, shall be provided for food offered at retail in other than package form.
Small food processors may be exempt from nutritional labeling, based on annual gross sales or number of annual units sold. Businesses claiming such exemption, must notify FDA that they meet the criteria before marketing their products.
Additional Guidance References
Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture
Bureau of Food Safety & Laboratory Services
PA Laws, Regulations, and House Bills
Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA
U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)
Penn State University Food Safety Website (PSU)
PSU Food Science Web Log
the regions are as follows by counties:
region 1- erie, crawford, warren, mckean, mercer, venango, forest, clarion, jefferson, elk
region 2- potter, cameron, clinton, tioga, lycoming, union, snyder, northumberland, montour, columbia
region 3-bradford, sullivan, wyoming, luzerne, susquehanna, lackawanna, wayne, pike, monroe, carbon
region 4- lawrence, beaver, washington, greene, butler, allegheny, armstrong, indiana, westmoreland, fayette
region 5- clearfield, cambria, somerset, centre, blair, bedford, mifflin, huntingdon, fulton
region 6- franklin, perry, cumberland, adams, york, lancaster, lebanon, dauphin
region 7- schuylkill, berks, chester, delaware, philadelphia, montgomery, bucks, lehigh, northampton
AI live in central pa about 15 minutes from mifflin county. I was thinking of starting an online bakery. I would bake cookies and sell them online and through different horse rescues. I was curious to know what kind of regulations I would have. I also have two old cats that go outside but come in when they want.
I'm licensed in PA and you are right, no pets allowed. I went thru the licensing process earlier this year and found it to be pretty easy though.
The gentleman did ask if I intended to do online sales (I don't) and said that requires registration with the FDA and some additional steps around ingredient listings and such. For deliveries/pickups I do not need to put an ingredient label on each cake (but do need to have the list available if a customer asks) but with online sales I believe the ingredients need to be clearly listed on each package. Don't quote me on this though since I was only 1/2 listening as it didn't apply to me :)
are pets allowed in the home if they are kept out of the kitchen area by doors?
No, no pets at all is my understanding.
Very first rule listed.
I just contacted the Dept of Agriculture about blocking off pets with doors and they said it can be done if there's a separate outside entrance so that in no way the food will be transported anywhere the pets would be and the baking area would have to be in that enclosed area. The door to the home would have to be closed at all times. So basically you would need a 2nd kitchen, which then would make you a food processor instead of HOME food processor because you would not be using your personal kitchen, Same procedure, just a different application. My friend is on the zoning board in my township and he said the township wouldn't approve it because it's a second kitchen and I could file for an exception but most likely wouldn't get it. Their reasoning is if they did that for everybody there would be a business in every residential neighborhood. Always someone to rain on your parade :(
In reply to Tracyaem:
I just scheduled my kitchen inspection next wednesday. I feel confident in my kitchen, my house is brand new, I separated all of my supplies, ingredients, etc but I want to be prepared because I desperately want to pass so that I can take my business to the next level. Can you tell me what they did while they inspected you and what they looked for? How long the inspection took?
The inspection was very easy. The guy brought his laptop and a small printer and the majority of the time he spent trying to make it work :)
He asked a few questions - mainly around ingredient lists. Definitely have ingredient lists for all of the cakes/fillings/frostings you have on your menu. He also asked about selling things online (I'm not, but if you are he'd probably have follow-ups). He spent maybe 30 seconds looking at my kitchen and pantry. If you have the same guy, he was a very nice (very chatty) older gentleman. He was there about an hour, but most of the time was chit-chat and very sloooooowwww typing on the computer!
I wouldn't stress too much, sounds like you have everything under control! G/L :)
Thank you sooo much for replying Tracyaem, I hope it goes smoothly and I'm thinking that it will. I don't plan on selling anything online so that's good. Thank you telling me about the ingredients, I have all of my recipes in order but will make sure all of the i's are dotted and the t's are crossed! My inspector is a lady named Kelly and she sounded very nice on the phone so I hope it stays that way during the inspection. I will post on what happens, thank you again for replying, I appreciate it very much :)
AHi again Traceyaem, I'm sorry to keep bothering you but I have one more question: I have an open concept layout with my kitchen and dining room so I can't close off the kitchen, is that a requirement? I have all of my equipment and ingredients in their own separate cabinets so I think that that is enough but I just want to double check on whether or not the entire kitchen needs to closed off. I feel comfortable with how I have my lists, equipment and ingredients in order but I'm worried about any other things that I might not be prepared for. I'm quite nervous in case it wasn't obvious :) If I pass the inspection it will open up a whole new world for my baking and I'm praying that it passes!
I don't see why it would be an issue. My house is open too - kitchen/breakfast room/family room are all connected without any doors or anything. You don't need a separate kitchen in PA.
Oh, I forgot one more thing you need... a glass of wine ;) Relax - you are definitely prepared!
I think the no pets rule is a good thing. Although most home bakers would keep pets out of the kitchen, there are some that wouldn't...so no pets is a good policy.
tracyaem and kaybray3, I'm so glad to see your posts. I'm in PA and thinking of having my house inspected so I can become licensed.
I have a few questions for you both if you don't mind...
Kaybray3 did your house pass inspection?
Are either of you insured? I assume once I'm licensed becoming insured would be the next step??
Can you give any other information as to what the next steps are for starting out? For example zoning and any other things that I might not have thought of?
I appreciate you help and home you businesses are doing well!
Hi Karen, yes I am insured. I went through my homeowners provider and got coverage. I'm very small-time right now and was only asked once for proof of insurance (large coprorate event). But I think if you want to get into weddings, most vendors will require it. I would also recommend forming an LLC. It keeps your business legally separate from your personal finances. Extreme example - someone gets sick on your cake and wants to sue, they can only go after the business assets, not your personal assets. I used Legal Zoom and it was very easy - you can register your business, get your federal tax ID number, the LLC, etc all in one simple process.
Zoning just required a call to my township and a letter explaining the purpose of my business. They sent me a letter allowing the business as long as it wouldn't cause traffic/parking issues (I mainly deliver, so no issue there), no excessive waste, and also stating that we would need permission for any expansions/renovations. Very straightforward. I believe you need the zoning permission letter before the inspector will come out.
I actually just got my renewal license in the mail yesterday - hard to believe it's been a year already! G/L :)
Tracyaem thank you so much for getting back to me and all the helpful information!! I've been putting this off for a long time (mostly because I felt overwhelmed when I thought about everything involved) and now that I'm taking some action I'm getting really excited! I've always had that "extreme example" on my mind and decided not to sell anything until I was doing things the right way.
One more question, did you have to have a separate refrigerator for the ingredients that are refrigerated or for storing cakes until they are delivered if required?
Thanks for much for your help!!