I'm a cake decorator in Maryland, and I'd love to be able to legally sell my cakes from my home. I've drafted a letter to send to my Maryland elected officials (go to http://mdelect.net/electedofficials/ and type in yor address to find out your legislative delegates and state senator; if the link doesn't work, go to the maryland dot gov website, click on legislature on the left, then click Find a Legislator on the right). I thought I'd share my letter with you in case you're interested in sending a letter as well; feel free to copy or adjust to your needs. I made it concise enough to fit on one page using Arial 10 font. Perhaps if we get a large enough effort we can begin to make a difference!
To the Honorable (NAME):
I hope you will consider sponsoring a bill that legalizes home kitchens and thus allows for fulfillment of supplier and consumer need, greater regulation of home bakers, additional tax revenue for the state, and commercial parity with our neighboring states. Currently, Maryland does not allow for legal sales of home baked goods. However, legalizing home kitchens for non-potentially hazardous foodsâi.e. foods that will not support the growth of pathogenic microorganisms and do not require temperature controls, such as bakery products, jams and jellies, acidified foods, and candy makingâwill be beneficial for the state of Maryland in the following ways:
1. Fulfillment of supplier and consumer need.
For many bakers, opening a legal bakery is a catch-22: they want to know if they will have a customer base before spending resources to open a legal kitchen, but they must open a commercial kitchen to legally sell their products. In turn, many home bakers turn to illegally selling products from their residential kitchen. For these home bakers, the opportunity to prove to their clientele that they are legally recognized by the state would be a real boon to their business. Given that home bakers average a small quantity of goods each week and many are already operating, the impact on commercial bakeries should be minimal.
Similarly, many consumers have a desire to purchase home made products from a local neighbor. However, the consumers have no knowledge of the sanitation of the kitchen, and if a food-borne illness were to occur, the consumers would have no recourse to file a health inspection complaint. A legal certification would help consumers make better informed decisions.
2. Increased regulation.
Commercial kitchens undergo strict food regulations, permitting, and licensing by the state. In contrast, people who sell out of home kitchens (despite its illegality) undergo no such regulation. By legalizing home kitchens, annual inspections will ensure that products sold from home kitchens meet minimum food safety requirements. Such regulations could include no animal pets in the home at any time, ingredients separate from personal use supply, and products properly labeled with ingredients, among others.
3. Increased revenue with negligible cost.
Legalized home kitchens will have to adhere to the state food tax on all products sold, providing increased revenue base for Maryland. Furthermore, the home baker would be responsible for paying for the costs associated with opening a food establishment business: application fee, permit fee, trade name fee, home inspection fee, sanitation test fee. The payment of these fees will help cover the costs to the state for adding additional workload to its employees.
4. Parity with neighboring states.
All four of Marylandâs neighboring statesâDelaware, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginiaâallow for the sale of food from home kitchens. Sharing a similar law will enable Maryland to remain commercially competitive with its neighbors.
I appreciate the work you have accomplished for your constituency, and I do hope you consider the benefits the legalization of home kitchens would bring to the state of Maryland.
very well written. thank you.
Great job - let us know how it goes.
Very nice letter - thank you for sharing it.
I live in Maryland too. But, I was under the impression that Maryland did license kitchens in the home. In fact, when I checked into the idea a year or so ago, my County officials told me all of the "hoops" I would have to go through to become legal in selling baked goods from my home - that's why I decided not to do it.
I'd love to see some kind of "cottage foods" allowance in Maryland...
Just as a heads up, many states, including North Carolina are looking at the elimination of " home bakers". The original home baking statute in our state specified " low moisture baked goods" which means that the finished item must have less than 86% total water content. It also precludes the use of fresh fruit and most dairy. The enforcement of these stipulations is getting to be a problem ( North Carolina's population has been growing faster than most areas of the country).
In addition, the land application of " bio-solids" ( poop) that many municipal water authorities are engaging in has lead to the more and more frequent outbreaks of food born disease. Our health department has been lobbying hard for more regulation of food producers in North Carolina.
You might be looking at an uphill battle, since most states are leaning toward more regulation, not less.
I just heard from my local health department inspector that the State of Maryland is in the process of passing legislation any day now that will require not only grease trap devices for food prep facilities, but also grease entrapment devices. The law will require a minimum 1000 gallon grease intercept device installed inground, outside the facility. It can cost in the thousands - around $24K according to my research.
He also told me that I should wait before getting my shop because all facilites will have to come into compliance. In my opinion, this will make it almost impossible for someone to work from home. The ones pushing the legislation is the WSSC, or in simpler terms, the water companies.
A friend of mine who lives in Calvert County was told she could bake from home once she had her water tested, etc. She then found out about zoning issues, among other things, that prevented her from moving forward. The state of MD is very strict about home bakers and I believe this new law will now make it impossible for anyone in any area of the state to bake from home, even in those few areas where they once allowed it.