Changing Opinions From My Health Dept.

Lounge By Ruth0209 Updated 27 Dec 2009 , 12:02am by Ruth0209

Ruth0209 Posted 22 Dec 2009 , 6:29pm
post #1 of 7

I'm a little frustrated with my Health Dept. When I set up my business I had a plan review and was approved as a low-risk establishment that didn't have to be licensed or inspected. My plan was to rent commercial kitchen space.

I went in the next month to submit a temporary permit for a wedding show and the supervisor told me I didn't need a temporary permit because I was low-risk, and that I did NOT have to use a commercial kitchen. I specifically asked her if I could bake from my home kitchen and she said yes. I was thrilled because it saves me a bunch of money and I like working from home. It was the best news I'd had all year!

Fast forward to this week. The big wedding show of the year is on 1/2. I planned on doing samples, but I didn't send in a temporary permit because of what the woman told me above. Then the inspector responsible for the show calls and tells me I DO have to submit a temp. application and that the other woman was wrong. I go to fill it out and it says that all products have to be baked in a commercial kitchen. So I called for clarification, and they tell me that even as a low-risk est., I still have to bake anything out of a commercial kitchen.

The really interesting thing is that she said if I bake for family and friends, friends of friends, EVEN friends of friends of friends (which to me is the same as strangers), even if I charge, they don't care about what I do or where I do it. But if I advertise, including participating in the wedding show, then it's a commercial venture and I have to be inspected because it's to the general public and the volume is expected to be higher than what I told them in the plan review. I told them that my volume would not go up regardless of how much advertising I did because it's just me and I can only do what I told them.

I was very professional and pleasant through this conversation, and the inspector went out of his way to go to the Program Director to get an official decision on whether I need to be inspected. He called me back and said I can still be low-risk even doing the advertising that I am, including the wedding show and my web site. I have to use a commercial kitchen but that was my original plan anyway, so that's okay.

It just goes to show that you get a lot more consideration from people when you don't call and rant at them (which I wanted to do). They really bent over backwards to make it as easy as possible for me to keep working. Not that being subject to inspection is that big of a deal, but I figure why do it if you don't have to?

Anyway, I'm bummed that I can't work from home after all because I will make less money renting the kitchen. So that was my Christmas gift from the Health Dept. No cupcakes for them!!

It is frustrating to me that the Health Dept. has this arbitrary position of who they care about. If I bake for a friend of a friend of a friend, that really is the "general public" but as long as I don't formally advertise they look the other way. A word of mouth business could do much more volume than I do (one of the factors for whether you're inspected) and still not have to worry just because she didn't advertise. I just hate arbitrary, subjective, unevenly enforced rules. If I follow the rules, I want everyone else to!! Yeah, I know. I can hear you all saying, "Just put on your big girl panties and move on." I am!! I just wanted to rant a little since I held my tongue so well with the Health Dept.

6 replies
_Jamie_ Posted 22 Dec 2009 , 6:41pm
post #2 of 7

I hear ya. I have a feeling I am operating on a technicality that may be reversed some day when new staff takes over. Oh you betcha I'll be down there in a heartbeat if anything has to change with my situation. Ugh!

Ruth0209 Posted 22 Dec 2009 , 6:45pm
post #3 of 7
Quote:
Originally Posted by _Jamie_

I hear ya. I have a feeling I am operating on a technicality that may be reversed some day when new staff takes over. Oh you betcha I'll be down there in a heartbeat if anything has to change with my situation. Ugh!




The inspector told me it's highly likely that even low-risk establishments will be subject to inspection soon in my state. Ugh is right. My life is just so much simpler without strangers poking around in it!!

adree313 Posted 23 Dec 2009 , 2:35am
post #4 of 7
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ruth0209


The inspector told me it's highly likely that even low-risk establishments will be subject to inspection soon in my state.




awww man thumbsdown.gif

JustToEatCake Posted 26 Dec 2009 , 9:11pm
post #5 of 7

I'm just a hobby baker so this is just a suggestion to maybe save some $. You might be able to just BAKE at the commercial kitchen but decorate at home. I know that our HD had a thing where if it was food prepared/packaged somewhere else (properly) you were able to put it all together at your home without license. Fruit is the most highly regulated through our HD because it's not cooked and the chances for salmonella are much much higher. The bakery products are low risk here because they aren't meat or fruits. I found this out when we owned a smoothie business.

indydebi Posted 26 Dec 2009 , 9:19pm
post #6 of 7
Quote:
Originally Posted by JustToEatCake

I'm just a hobby baker so this is just a suggestion to maybe save some $. You might be able to just BAKE at the commercial kitchen but decorate at home.


Varies from state to state. In many states, "food prep" is the entire process, not just the cooking part. Some states do permit this, so it's worth looking into, but it's not the same everywhere.

Ruth0209 Posted 27 Dec 2009 , 12:02am
post #7 of 7

That's a good suggestion. However, my state's code requires that all food sold to the public be stored and prepared in a commercial kitchen. It's okay. It was my plan from the start. I just won't make as much money. I may need to raise my prices.

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