Is anybody taking advantage of the relatively new Maryland cottage food law? I was overseas when it was passed, but I'm back and would very much like to have an actual business. I've been doing cakes for several years for friends, and have spent a lot of money on tools & equipment. (I've been a member here since like 2006, I think, but I rarely post) I don't want to start a huge business, just make it a self-sustaining hobby. There aren't any commercial kitchens up here to rent, nor would I have the money to do so, anyway. I'm up in Washington County, and people up here aren't generally willing to spend a whole lot on cake.
My real question is if any of you have been told that delivering cakes would be legal. The law says I'd have to sell at a farmer's market or other public event. I don't bake for baking's sake. I actually hate baking. I like to decorate, and I only bake so I have something to decorate. So, I have no desire to make things that are generally sold at farmer's markets. I only want to make custom cakes, and you can't really sell custom cakes at a farmer's market. Sure, you want a cake for Friday? Come to the farmer's market the Saturday before to pick it up. Even making shelf-stable cakes, nobody wants to have a cake that's almost a week old for their party.
I wrote to my Department of Health asking for clarification on that and a few other things, and all I got back was the same little flyer I had seen before. It answered none of my questions, because it was the basis for my questions. I don't think the lady even read my email. I wrote back, but I haven't heard from her again yet. If I will. So, I thought I'd bring the question to you lovely people, and see if you had any experience or advice.
I found this: http://forrager.com/law/maryland/ I'm not a fan of forrager, but they do say: The laws state that the food must be sold at “a location in a farmer’s market or at a public festival or event where raw agricultural products are sold”.
So until you get clarification, I would say they don't allow you to "sell" at your house (which to me seems to defeat the purpose of the "cottage" part in cottage law. They might just not want to get into the "having a business in a non-zoned area" mess though. I'm glad my area is pretty lenient, when my son gets older I plan on having my own business. Until then, it's practice-practice-practice on my hubby's co-workers!
Oh and if you scroll down, someone asked that question on the Forrager website and the response "Maryland only allows sales as a vendor at farmers markets and events. To deliver orders, you need to use a commercial kitchen." If you don't get a response, then I would go with that.
Thanks. I had seen the site, but didn't realize that there were comments at the bottom.
it's similar in my area -- the deal here is custom cakes sold for parties/events comes under catering because they typically will be served to 15-20 people or more -- that's quite a bit different than selling to a family or an individual in terms of food safety -- one unsafe tier cake could potentially sicken hundreds -- so it's a very good gatekeeper --
reading some of the posts here over the years it's a wonder some of the cottage laws haven't been rescinded due to safety issues -- yoiks --
crafty, to me it doesn't defeat the 'cottage' part of cottage laws more than it protects us all but i see your point --
also each individual locality can interpret these laws differently unless the sate has written something in in stone so i'd like to encourage you to go in person to your local health department -- either make an appointment or go 1st thing in the morning when they open because the inspectors often are out in the field so you want to catch them before they take off --
best to you
you could make alphabet letters and random decor and sell the decor as 'kits' at farmer's markets to individuals h-a-p-p-y-b-i-r-t-h-d-a-y- and have enough letters to spell out names and flowers and baby buggies and little bears/animals and lace pieces and wedding decor and etc etc plus come cookies and cupcakes -- help peeps design their own cakes maybe -- just a thought