Chrisl121070 Posted 20 May 2008 , 11:25pm
post #1 of

I have read the PA website and I've contacted my local borough about getting a letter from them, but I just wanted to hear from some people who are actually licensed and what you had to go through.

39 replies
trumpetmidget Posted 21 May 2008 , 1:59am
post #2 of

Easy, easy, easy! Very worth the trouble. I live about an hour from Philly. Each county/town is different. Just check with the department of agriculture to make sure it's the same. What I had to do was - contact the borough to get a letter that said I can have a business, call dpa to get inspector out, get inspected, get license. If you have well water, you will need to get your water tested (I have public, so I have no idea what that entails). You can not have pets (unless they are in a cage 24/7 or outside). Make sure your cake stuff is seperate from your house stuff. I have my tools in a drawer and my ingredients are on a seperate shelf in the pantry. The inspector came into my house after I cleaned like mad and looked at nothing. He sat at my kitchen table went over some stuff took his check and signed my license. If you do a search on getting license in PA in these forums, you will come up with a bunch of other posts on this. Hope this helps.

twooten173 Posted 21 May 2008 , 2:12am
post #3 of

just being nosy chris, where are you in pa

Chrisl121070 Posted 21 May 2008 , 2:20am
post #4 of

trumpetmidget, I did do a search and found some things, but I wanted some first hand experiences. lol

Thanks!

twooten173 - I'm in York.

trumpetmidget Posted 21 May 2008 , 2:43am
post #5 of

Oooo, Two - my husband would approve of your location. He is a big steelers fan. I took him out of that area and made him come to Eagles country. He went to a pregame a few years back Eagles vs. Steelers and wore his steelers garb. I told him he was taking his life into his own hands with that one! icon_smile.gif

jenlg Posted 21 May 2008 , 2:58am
post #6 of

I thought about getting mine but I have a cat I refuse to get rid of. He's never allowed in the kitchen when cooking or baking...I know they still don't care and won't approve. Oh well.

Good Luck!

twooten173 Posted 21 May 2008 , 5:13pm
post #7 of

trumpetmidget, girl Steeler 's fans are the best and everywhere. I went to Hawaii a few years ago and was there for a couple weeks. Do you know I went to D&B one day to watch the game - some islander told me that was the place to go because Steeler's fans go there. The entire building was full of Steeler's fans... three floors of them. Ha! Oh and for the record, we had to get up at 8am on Sunday to watch the game!!!

Jen, I am so sorry to hear about your cat! I have a dog and I can't imagine life without her.

cakedout Posted 21 May 2008 , 5:42pm
post #8 of

My initial experience with getting a license and inspected was very easy-and my inspector did much the same as trumpetmidget's- glanced around, asked some questions and signed my license! thumbs_up.gif

I had more trouble when we were doing a major house remodel which included a separate bakery area for me. Our township guys were a bit power hungry, and even though I had everything in line for the township meeting to get a zoning varience, they kept demading more stuff and stringing me along month after month. Finally one of the men on the board, who happened to be the father of a friend of my daughter's, told me to just tell them what they want to hear....then do what I want. No one was going to check up on me. icon_eek.gif So that's what I did. Adjusted my plan to what they were insisting upon in order to get the variance approved....and proceded to do my business as usual. icon_twisted.gif Did it for 18 years at that location.

And in those 18 years, I had an inspector come only 3 times! icon_confused.gifthumbs_up.gif

jenbenjr Posted 21 May 2008 , 5:54pm
post #9 of

I also want to look into getting my license. Can anyone tell me how much cost is involved in this and how long did the whole process take you? Also looking at the business side...what about doing taxes. Has anyone come across any problems?
Oh, by the way...I am in Steeler Country also and absolutely love them! Try to go to a couple games a year. The atmosphere there is absolutely amazing! I also went to Hawaii a couple times....wish I woulda knew about the D&B there being full of fans during games. icon_biggrin.gif

apetricek Posted 21 May 2008 , 6:01pm

Hey trumpetmidget thanks a lot your info helped!!! I too live about 45 minutes from Philly! I have been doing this for 10 years and would love to get that official paperwork! Thanks a lot I now know where to start off! Happy BAKING!!!

Chrisl121070 Posted 21 May 2008 , 11:01pm

ok, so I called my borough and talked to the person in charge of this stuff.

She told me that unless I am actually running a business out of my home - meaning I have a sign in the front yard and have people coming in and out of my home buying things, that I don't need to have a license.

I told her that I would be making/selling cakes for friends, family, co-workers, etc and she said that it was fine. She said I could even take them to a farmer's market or something like that if I wanted to and it wouldn't matter.

Has anyone else been told this? LOL

apetricek Posted 21 May 2008 , 11:15pm

hey chrisl121070 where exactly are you in PA? Just curious... I wonder how many they consider in and out of my house? I may have one person a week? I usually sell the cakes to friends and family, and friends of friends etc. I know the only problem that I did run into is that some venues and places will not take a cake from the "outside" unless you have a license...I still think I will look into it???

Chrisl121070 Posted 21 May 2008 , 11:20pm

I'm in York.

She said that unless I have parking issues or have huge delivery trucks coming, it's not an issue.

I wondered about that too - the venues that won't allow cakes from non-licensed vendors, but I am just starting out and am not really planning on making wedding cakes for many people so at this point it's not an issue. I'll worry about it if that comes up I guess. LOL

jenbenjr Posted 21 May 2008 , 11:33pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chrisl121070

ok, so I called my borough and talked to the person in charge of this stuff.

She told me that unless I am actually running a business out of my home - meaning I have a sign in the front yard and have people coming in and out of my home buying things, that I don't need to have a license.

I told her that I would be making/selling cakes for friends, family, co-workers, etc and she said that it was fine. She said I could even take them to a farmer's market or something like that if I wanted to and it wouldn't matter.

Has anyone else been told this? LOL




Hmmm? I never heard of anyone else being told this. I am interested in finding out more also.

tygre Posted 21 May 2008 , 11:43pm

I'd be wary of what you were told by this lady at the local level, I'm fairly certain that you can not do what she says, even the Amish around here who sell baked goods need to be licenced.

Go Steelers...from PGH, now in NW PA

pastrylady Posted 21 May 2008 , 11:50pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chrisl121070

ok, so I called my borough and talked to the person in charge of this stuff.

She told me that unless I am actually running a business out of my home - meaning I have a sign in the front yard and have people coming in and out of my home buying things, that I don't need to have a license.

I told her that I would be making/selling cakes for friends, family, co-workers, etc and she said that it was fine. She said I could even take them to a farmer's market or something like that if I wanted to and it wouldn't matter.

Has anyone else been told this? LOL




In PA either your local Health Dept (in my case the county) or Agriculture office has jurisdiction over giving you the license to make and sell food, they will tell you how your kitchen must be situated. If you are not licensed by the health dept caterers and other businesses probably won't work with you.

Your borough or township zoning will determine what type of business you are allowed to have in your home. The person from your borough office might only be referring to your zoning issues, not health/ag dept requirements.

I had a similar experience to Cakedout. Health Dept was very easy to deal with, everything was very straight-forward. I had much more trouble negotiating with my township over zoning issues. I actually had someone from the township tell me that I should have just built my kitchen and not told them!!!

Just be sure you have all your bases covered with both the zoning and health/ag department issues.

Gook Luck. It's so worth the trouble to be able to work from home!!!

mjballinger Posted 22 May 2008 , 12:22am

Chris,
I found this info. http://foodsafety.cas.psu.edu/processor/resources.htm#Resources
to be very helpful. You have to scroll down and click on Guidance and Requirements for Home Food Processors.
I don't want to say that the person you spoke with was wrong, but I've been looking into this for a long time and it's my understanding that you must be licensed by the PDA (PA Dept. of Agriculture).

Hope this helps,
Jen

jenlg Posted 22 May 2008 , 4:15am

The rules in PA are different for several counties unfortunately. I've heard many different things.

trumpetmidget Posted 23 May 2008 , 2:54am

The person in your borough probably doesn't really know what you do or don't need. You definetly need to talk to the dept. of agriculture or health. I would think that she is wrong - just going from my experience. You need to follow the state laws more than the borough laws...meaning if it is okay in your borough to run without a license, it is still not okay with the state. I would definetly check up on that.
The total cost of getting licensed was $30 to the department of agriculture. The borough didn't charge me anything for my letter, though I have heard of other boroughs charging. It is also $70 to get your name through the fictitious name department. I haven't done that yet. So, total, you are looking at about $100. It is probably more if you need to test your water.
I am so glad I went through the process. I haven't advertised very much yet, but it is nice when someone asks, can you make me a cake? I can say, why yes, yes I can and it cost this much. Ahhh...then, I have something to spend on more cake stuff. It was a sad day when I walked into Michaels and realized I had everything. LOL

Mommaskip Posted 4 Jun 2008 , 2:34pm

is there anyone in the reading area that knows the specifics of home based bakery rules and such. i contacted that dept of agriculture but the info came from harrisburg and i would rather find out from someone who has frist hand experience.

mjw15618 Posted 4 Jun 2008 , 3:12pm

I've been licensed for a few years now and I sell both from my home and at a farmer's market. I don't sell cakes at the market - I sell biscotti, cookies, muffins, scones, pies, breads and granola there. Cakes are too much of a hassle to drag out into the middle of a field every week!

Anyway, regardless of what any local authority tells you, you MUST have that license from the PDA. If you're going to do retail sales, like at a farmer's market, you also MUST have a food safety training certificate. There have been heated debates on this forum concerning this before which I won't get into again, but suffice to say if you plan on selling anywhere outside of your home you need this certificate! The PDA doesn't require it if you'll just be doing a few cakes from your kitchen and selling them from your home. I took the food safety course through the Allegheny County Health Department. It cost me $75 and the certificate is good for five years. I'm not an Allegheny County resident so it was about $10 more for the course...if you're a county resident, it's cheaper. Once I got the certificate, I applied for the license from the PDA...$20 and it's also good for five years. Once you have these documents, contact an inspector...that's not a big deal and he/she will come once a year or less and they NEVER just pop in and do a surprise inspection! That was also a heated thread on this forum a while back. If you're on a well, you'll also have to have your water tested yearly for coliform - another $25.

Here are some links that you may find helpful:

http://www.achd.net/food/FP_certification.php
http://www.agriculture.state.pa.us/agriculture/cwp/view.asp?a=3&q=126850
http://www.agriculture.state.pa.us/agriculture/cwp/view.asp?a=3&q=127011
http://www.agriculture.state.pa.us/foodsafety/lib/foodsafety/homeproc.pdf
http://www.agriculture.state.pa.us/agriculture/cwp/view.asp?q=127179

Good luck!

Chrisl121070 Posted 8 Jun 2008 , 3:49pm
Quote:
Quote:

The PDA doesn't require it if you'll just be doing a few cakes from your kitchen and selling them from your home.




Well, that's good to know, because as of right now that's all I'm doing. I'm only making like 1-2 a month, if that.

I would like to get licensed eventually though.

CakeInfatuation Posted 9 Jun 2008 , 3:33pm

Is anyone in Bucks County, PA? That's where I'm at. I just left a message for the zoning officer. Hopefully he'll get back to me.

None of you have mentioned anything about insurance. Heaven forbid someone gets sick on one of our cakes. Are you set up as a LLC to protect your home and assets? Do you have business insurance?

Is the dept. of agriculture the only organization we need a license from or does that vary by location also?

Right now I'm trying to go part-time at a bakery to learn the ins and outs of the business BEFORE I go into business myself. In the meantime, I've been turning down cakes left and right and I would like to accept a few here and there without worrying about the "what ifs".

If this is as easy and affordable as it appears to be, I will get the legalities taken care of and do a little decorating on my own while working at a bakery and getting ready to go full force. Then in 2 years when my kids are both in school full time, I may just be able to make my dream come true.

something_sweet Posted 9 Jun 2008 , 11:56pm

Can you still have a legal home Cake Decorating business in PA without being certified/licensed?

CakeInfatuation Posted 10 Jun 2008 , 12:12am

Zoning officer got back to me. It will cost me $500 to get a variance in order to do cakes out of my home. Even if it is just 3 a month. icon_sad.gif

CHuffmyer Posted 10 Jun 2008 , 12:20am

I'm in Allegheny County....I looked into getting licensed for a Home Bakery. It's not easy in Allegheny County. I spoke to a lady at the Health Dept. and she told me that you have to have a separate kitchen if you want a licensed home bakery in Allegheny County. I don't remember the number, but if you follow those links in a previous post you can get the number of the PA Dept. of Agriculture and they'll refer you to someone in Allegheny County as soon as you tell them that's where you are. Not sure why the rules are different for different counties in PA, but they are. Hope that helps.

chrissysconfections Posted 10 Jun 2008 , 12:29am

I'm going through the process as we speak. Unfortunately I don't live anywhere near you all. This is what I have learned though.....
If your adding, remodeling or building for a bakery/cakery then you must get all your zoning paperwork, water testing (if applicable), Dept of Ag paperwork, and building plans together and sent in to the inspector's office BEFORE you start any construction. They must approve everything before you can physically start construction.
Under the seperate building/space rules you are then able to do cream fillings, pies and what are otherwise considered "perishables" not allowed from your home kitchen.
YOU CAN NOT MAKE ANYTHING IN YOUR HOME KITCHEN THAT REQUIRES REFRIGERATION AFTER PRODUCTION!
Licensing your actual home kitchen is much easier. The paperwork is basically the same minus the building plans and pre-approval. The only thing you must have is a clean kitchen and work area (if they aren't the same). No pets or children allowed in the processing area during processing. Seperate storage areas for all your supplies and wares.
The cost for the licensing is $35 if you don't require any water testing. Water testing ranges from $20-$100+ depending on where you live. For me it's the lowest end of the scale because we have a Penn State Co-Op here that does it for us. The only thing regarding the testing is that you need to be sure the testing facility is DEP certified.
As for those of you who have pets....I have two dogs that my DH and I couldn't dream of parting with that's why we are converting half our basement. I know this isn't the "right" thing to say but I do know another decorator in my area who did this....
The day before she was to get licensed she took her dog to her MIL's until after the inspector left. A cat could easily be put in a bedroom for the short time the inspectors are actually there too. I know there are people on here that are adament about pets being out of the home all together but I do know that it is done this way too.

wantomakecakes Posted 10 Jun 2008 , 12:37am

Can someone point me in the right direction of a good school in the phila,Pa or surrounding area? I love to bake and would like to learn cake decorating and candy making.
Any help would be appreciated icon_smile.gif

CakeInfatuation Posted 10 Jun 2008 , 11:46am

I have taken 3 classes at Michael's Arts & Crafts. It's affordable and they teach you the basics. AC Moore also has cake classes and candy classes. Between this site, DVD's, Books, and some courses at your local Craft store, you should be able to learn just about anything you want to know.

Mommaskip Posted 10 Jun 2008 , 2:10pm

thanks chrissysconfections. i was hoping someone would say that about the pets before i did. i have 2 dogs and a cat and because of that thought about taking them elsewhere to get licensed. hubby and i are going to remodel the entire kitchen first before trying to get licensed. maybe sometime next summer.

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