Hi, and I need some help. I am from Maryland and I am an event planner. The past year I got into decorating cakes and they have become popular by word of mouth. So popular I was thinking about, not neccesariily start a cake decorating business, but perhaps and option to my event planning buisness, or just on the side, a few a month type thing. Do i REALLY need to register, gets permits, rent kitchens and the all the crazy things I been reading about doing in order to bake and sell the cakes to people I don't know? One or 2 a month and i have to make it a business?
I don't mean to sound clueless, but i AM!!! I would love any insight, and help at all, especially anyone knowing the rules of MD. Could I just write a contract keeping me safe from the event of food-poisoning or things like that? IS that stupid to say? I see people will little cupcake businesses all over facebook, did they get the LLC and permits and etc... WHEW. Sorry to ramble, any help would be GREAT!
MD does not have a cottage food law (there was a proposed bill but it did not pass), so if you will be handling food for commercial use you will need a kitchen that can pass inspection. This could be a second kitchen built on your property, a rented commercial kitchen, or a retail shop.
To protect yourself from liability you will need liability insurance, which will only cover you if you are a legal business. A contract that simply prevents people from suing in the case of food poisoning is not enforceable.
For specific information about the rules in your area you would need to contact your county and/or state govt agencies responsible for food safety (usually the dept of health or agriculture).
I am licensed in MD. They have standards close to FDA requirements. A separate kitchen is a must.
One word of warning... MD is serious about their HD rules, both at the state level and the local level. In WV, where I am also licensed, illegal cakers abound. But cross that line and you had better lay low. They have no tolerance. Knowing this, I couldn't see the cottage food law passing.
And I think Jason is right. The building must be separate from your home, not just separate in your home.
I was told by someone at the Heath Department (several years ago, though) that it can be a separate kitchen inside your home, but it has to have separate entrance, oven, sink, no pets, licensed and inspected, etc.
Rather than being told, look it up. People can be wrong. I don't remember what the law is, but it is easy enough to find it.
You can have a separate kitchen as long as it is detached from the main kitchen in your home (i.e. ~ like building out your entire basement). And you must have all equipment like a commercial kitchen, then get it inspected, etc.