Any Of You Texas Bakers Want To Change The Law?

Business By summernoelle Updated 2 Feb 2009 , 6:32pm by kelleym

summernoelle Posted 24 Dec 2008 , 2:33pm
post #1 of 20

This recently came up in another thread that although Texas does not allow home bakeries, as I am sure most of you are aware of, they do allow all sorts of other strange food businesses, like taco trucks. Apparently, this was attempted to be outlawed as well, but the citizens who own these trucks fought the state and won! I was thinking-if they can do it, so can we!
One sticking point for me is that many other states do allow home based bakeries. Why is it that these states can justify the food safety of cake businesses when Texas cannot?
Another thing I have thought about is the economy. Not all bakers can afford the very expensive rental fees, but could afford the permits and other fees associated with readying their home for a business. I pay $$$ right now for renting a kitchen, and it pretty much takes away all my profit for the amount of cakes that I can currently make per week. I am sure many of you are in the same boat.
It would also be a good situation for consumers as well-I think that all these over priced rental fees, etc, causes more people to operate illegally, which means more unsafe food practices. If home bakers were allowed to operate legally, they could be regulated by health departments, and then home bakeries would be safer for consumers.
What I was thinking was that maybe each of us in our own metroplex area could contact the other bakers, to try and get them to petition the state as well. I am in the Dallas area, and willing to reach out to people around here. Tita9499 is in El Paso, and said she would like to help. So-anyone else out there willing to give it a shot? I think this would be a great thing for all the homebakers out there to be legal, to be insured and regulated, and to be able to do what they love to do, without fear of getting "caught".
Cakeboss sent me a link to the following post located by Megean:

All my fellow Texans,

I want to say thank you, especially, to KelleyM for compiling the list of states that are legal. (

Sadly, Texas is one of the states that isn't legal. Can or will that ever change? As large an undertaking as it is, I think it's up to us to find out.

I have compiled a list of local Texas representatives. These are from the Dallas/Fort Worth area. You can find your local representative by visiting:

Obviously, this is on a state level, and not a national level, so our senators are not on the list.

What if we all write to our representatives and voice our opinions about this law? What if we propose that (like Oregon) the law is modified to include baked goods and candies, but not more dangerous items like meat processing? The worst they can say is "no."

"Of the people, by the people, for the people," right? We are the people!

I'm going to write to my representative today, and I'll let you guys know if I hear anything back!

Please participate if you're passionate about this! And good luck!

Texas U.S. Representatives
Congressional District 26--Congressman Michael C. Burgess
Phone: (202) 225-7772
District Offices

1660 S. Stemmons Fwy., Ste 230
Lewisville, TX 75067
Phone: (972) 434-9700

Congressional District 12--Congressman Kay Granger
Phone: (202) 225-5071
District Offices

1701 River Run Road, Suite 407
Fort Worth, TX 76107
Phone: (817) 338-0909

Congressional District 24--Congressman Kenny Marchant
Phone: (202) 225-6605
District Offices

9901 East Valley Ranch Pkwy
Irving, TX 75063
Phone: (972) 556-0162

Texas State Senator
Senate District 12--Senator Jane Nelson
Capitol Office: CAP 1E.3
Capitol Phone: (512) 463-0112
Capitol Address: P.O. Box 12068, Capitol Station
Austin, TX 78711
District Address: 1235 S. Main St., Suite 280
Grapevine TX 76051
Phone: (817) 424-3446
State District Offices

Texas State Representatives
House District 98--Representative Vicki Truitt
Capitol Office: EXT E2.502
Capitol Phone: (512) 463-0690
Capitol Address: P.O. Box 2910
Austin, TX 78768
District Address: 1256 Main Street, #248
Southlake TX 76092
Phone: (817) 488-4098

House District 99--Representative Charlie Geren
Capitol Office: EXT E2.310
Capitol Phone: (512) 463-0610
Capitol Address: P.O. Box 2910
Austin, TX 78768
District Address: 1011 Roberts Cutoff
River Oaks TX 76114
Phone: (817) 738-8333

House District 91--Representative Bob E. Griggs
Capitol Office: EXT E2.606
Capitol Phone: (512) 463-0599
Capitol Address: P.O. Box 2910
Austin, TX 78768
District Address: 6617 Precint Line Road, Suite 200
North Richland Hills TX 76180
Phone: (817) 581-1000

Texas State Board of Education Member
SBOE District 11--Ms. Patricia "Pat" Hardy
District Address: 2323 RIDGMAR BLVD. # 78
Phone: (817) 732-1786

Let me know what you all think. Sorry so long!!!

19 replies
eldag0615 Posted 24 Dec 2008 , 3:16pm
post #2 of 20

I live in South Texas on the border with Reynosa, Tmps. and also can't afford to rent a place. You wouldn't believe what they allow people to sell on the streets, from tacos, to icecream to "fritos" , some kind of flour chips that people fry on their own homes and bag them in plastic bags with little bags of salsa, you don't even know how long have been in that bag.I have 4 boys and one just started college, very expensive so I started charging for my cakes a couple of months ago, sometimes the staff at my son's school order me somethig and some family and friends, but I have been having more orders lately, from people I don't know, and like you said, I am afraid to get caught, sometimes I refuse. When I took my Food Handling Certification class I asked the inspector in charge if I could sell cakes out of my house, of course the answer was NO, excuse my ignorance but I had no clue it was ilegal, icon_cry.gif People even set a BBQ pit on a busy corner or a parking lot and sell fajitas or chicken plates from there! Here in the Valley, (south Texas) a LOT of people abuse the system, food stamps, etc, and they CAN work, but choose not to, its easier to get everything for free, the few of us that don't, they make it so difficult to be "legal". I would love to help in any way I can to try and change the law in Texas. Unfortunately I just know 1 more lady that makes cakes out of her home and I don't think she wants to get involved. The inspector told me she agrees with me but can't do anything about it, that I could offer my cakes or desserts in restaurants and as long as I don't get caught exchanging money for products nothing will happen to me icon_surprised.gif . I chose not to do that. So, how do I go about this to try and change things here in the valley? I have not even heard about a kitchen that you can rent in my area, if any body from Mission, McAllen Tx. area knows of one, please let me know. Sorry for the long message, but let me tell you, I am so happy you brought the subject up.

newmansmom2004 Posted 24 Dec 2008 , 3:40pm
post #3 of 20

I ran into this when my husband and I had a salsa business. We ended up having it made by a commercial food manufacturer in Rockwall, but I was told by the health department that we COULD make it at home if we had a dedicated kitchen for the preparation of the salsa.

While it's not ideal (and if all efforts to change the laws fail), if there's a way to convert one room in your house to a kitchen - basically put in a stove and a sink and a table or countertop - for the production of cakes, cookies, etc. and nothing else, apparently you could then be considered a commercial food manufacturer. They told me it didn't have to be a stand alone building or room; it just had to have a door separating it from the rest of the house and had to be used exclusively for the production of the food product you want to sell.

That was about 6 or 7 years ago so things may have changed since then, but check with your local health departments to find out what the requirement is.

I'm with you on the taco trucks - some of those here in San Antonio are the nastiest looking things on four wheels and I'd bet anything my kitchen at home is FAR cleaner than some of them!

cakesdivine Posted 24 Dec 2008 , 4:02pm
post #4 of 20

Right now I use the church's licensed kitchen, but it is inconvenient as there are functions manytimes that interfere with my ability to use it when I need it. I was always led to believe that it had to be a separate building from your house! You mean as long as it is a room separated by a door all is good! I have a spare room that I use as my gallery and consultation area. I could use it as a kitchen instead and just use my beautiful living room as my consult area. But it would be easier to use my actual kitchen...LOL! I would be willing to sign any petition, but don't have the time to wage a full campaign to get the law changed at this time icon_sad.gif It will be like having a full time job to do this.

kelleym Posted 24 Dec 2008 , 4:42pm
post #5 of 20

In my county it must be a kitchen separated from your home by a solid wall(ie: no door), and it must have an outside entrance. There are also deed restrictions, HOA's, city/county zoning, etc. to consider. It's simply not possible for me to do in my neighborhood.

If you look at the other thread, I posted my "sample" letter that I sent to my senator and representative in 2007. I never heard back from either of them.

I think some of the strongest arguments in our favor are that 1) so many other states allow preparation and sale of "non-hazardous" food items from residential kitchens, and 2) there are so many people who do it illegally already, wouldn't it be better to regulate it?

What we really need is a sympathetic senator or representative who is willing to author a bill.

summernoelle Posted 24 Dec 2008 , 5:13pm
post #6 of 20

Yes, exactly, Kelly! For me, when I checked into it last year, I was also unable to convert my garage, due to zoning laws. something about how we have to have a 2 car garage. also, there had to be a separate bathroom.
My point was that how many of us can afford to make a separate kitchen? Stoves, vent hoods, correct lighting fixtures, etc, etc. I know I can't do that-it just isn't a possibility. For me, it's either rent, or not make cakes.

cakesdivine Posted 24 Dec 2008 , 5:38pm
post #7 of 20

I luckily don't live in a deed restricted neighborhood or an area that is incorporated or zoned. Our county does not have a dedicated Health department for food service only healthcare. We are regulated by the State of Texas guidelines only, and our poor inspector has 12 other counties he is in charge of, so after your first inspection you more than likely won't see him again for another year and I have heard of older establishments who consistantly pass with flying colors in our area not seeing him for 2 or 3 years, and their renewals are sent to them in the mail. Generally he only comes to our county if there is a new establishment or a complaint. He even told me not to expect to see him again anytime soon as everything looked great.

CakeForte Posted 24 Dec 2008 , 6:05pm
post #8 of 20

I read your initial letter Kelley..from the first post...where you mentioned that licensed kitchens were some of the dirtiest places you have ever seen. I just wanted to say i agree w/ you 1000000% percent....LOL. When I was a wedding planner at a hotel, that kitchen was so nasty and there was one day when I had a wedding and they had no hot water in the kitchen all day. This was a huge name hotel as well. I have had the unfortunate experience of seeing other nasty kitchens.

I think the best way to reach the legislators would be to include:
*photos and examples of restaurants that continually fail their inspections, yet barely pass on reinspection
*Photos of the dirt taco trucks and other mobile food units selling meats, etc.
*Photos of a clean kitchen, and list the specific examples of other states' laws.

Also...don't make them read through all of laws of the states that do allow home based kitchens. Summarize the key points of each state so they get the general idea.

I think explaining how a small business is critical, especially now, could also be a selling point....Paying taxes which go back into the local economy, job creation....Research on how baked goods are low risk.

Anywho...those are just some thoughts I had. I'm in the process of building a kitchen now....but I would also write a letter.


summernoelle Posted 24 Dec 2008 , 6:08pm
post #9 of 20
Originally Posted by CakeForte

I think explaining how a small business is critical, especially now, could also be a selling point....Paying taxes which go back into the local economy, job creation....

I was thinking that, too.

mommakristin Posted 24 Dec 2008 , 6:31pm
post #10 of 20

I myself agree with everyone here.

I bake on the side and have a fulltime job so I don't have the business needed to be able to afford to rent a kitchen or to turn my garage into a kitchen.

I would love to do cakes fulltime but can't do that with the way the laws are right now. OR the economy.

I would definitely be open to writing letters to whoever will listen to change the existing laws!!!!!

I am on board!!!

CakeForte Posted 24 Dec 2008 , 6:48pm
post #11 of 20

Another thing is that there are also inconsistencies from county to county. Why? Obviously some counties see that a home operation , even if it is separate, etc etc, is why aren't all? Obviously they are all following the TFER.

Tita9499 Posted 24 Dec 2008 , 7:23pm
post #12 of 20

Okay, since it's the holiday season, it seems as though all the coty officials are "out to lunch" so to speak. On the first working day of the year, I'll contact the neccessary people here in El Paso and see what I can do from this end. Those of you who can't dedicate much time, I completely understand, just support in any capacity you are able to. Even if we don't get this passed in our favor, at least they know we're here.

eldag0615 Posted 24 Dec 2008 , 8:26pm
post #13 of 20

Thank you for all your information to all of you, I am going to ask the Health Department if I can use a separate room on my home but now that you mention it, I think the residential zone is going to be a problem also. I have a neighbor that has a construction business in the lot next to his house, he has the big trucks and his employees get there every morning so they can leave from there to the job site, the thing is that it does not have a name and the "office" is built in the shape of a small house where supposedly his mom lives in. We own the lot next to my home and I have been considering to get a loan and do the same, better to pay a loan on something yours than rent, (my way of thinking), but then again what stops me is: The big loan or payments and since I think I would not be able to advertise, don't know if I am going to have enough business to make the payments. Well, anyway, I am willing to sign any petition needed. Thanks again, this place is so wonderful and you are more, since you take time of your busy schedule to give us advise or ideas. God bless all of you.

gladyk Posted 16 Jan 2009 , 3:44am
post #14 of 20

I sent my letter out today. This is so important and could really help the economy.

Launa Posted 16 Jan 2009 , 3:59am
post #15 of 20

Hey guys - don't get on board without me!! Count me in, too! I talked to our health department about a year ago wanting to become "legal" and that's when I discovered I couldn't. We're just outside the city limits on a septic system and a well, and even if I could afford to build a separate kitchen, I'd have to re-do my septic and well to be "commercial" and so now we're talking 10's of 1000's of I'm all for changing the law!!!!

kelleym Posted 16 Jan 2009 , 3:59am
post #16 of 20

I sent out 4 certified letters yesterday to:

Representative Dan Gattis
Senator Steve Ogden
Lt. Governor David Dewhurst
Gov. Rick Perry

EnjoyTheCake Posted 16 Jan 2009 , 4:05am
post #17 of 20

Give me more information. I'd love to be able to have more opportunity to achieve home baking in Texas. What do I have to do?

Launa Posted 16 Jan 2009 , 4:10am
post #18 of 20

Hey Kelleym - Would you mind sending me a copy of your letter? I'm not very good with words and I'd love to see what you wrote! I won't copy your letter, but I'd like to have some ideas of the proper wording!


kelleym Posted 16 Jan 2009 , 4:16am
post #19 of 20

It's on this page:

Use whatever parts of it you like. Add your own experiences and thoughts. Just WRITE! icon_smile.gif

kelleym Posted 2 Feb 2009 , 6:32pm
post #20 of 20

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