Kansas regulations are a bit tricky. I say this because eventhough the Kansas Food Code says that you have to have a completely separate kitchen in your home that you make food out of for the consumer, the state isn't going to bug you unless they have a complaint about you.
I was having some weird responses from customers last year when I would tell them that I was an "in home" business. Well, here is a letter I wrote to the Kansas head of the food safety division... the ones who enforce all the regulations. This is a copy of my email to him on Sunday, November 16, 2008 and his response....Hello Mr. Moris,
Thank you for taking my email. I have an in-home bakery in Overland Park Kansas, and make special occasion cakes for the "end consumer". I have a separate, full kitchen in my home, free of children and any animals, use cake mixes and non-perishable cake fillings, sell directly to the consumer, and I adhere to Health Department guidelines for sanitation and cleanliness. But, I am not licensed because I was told by someone at the Dept. of Ag.(I'm sorry I don't remember his name...but it was a phone conversation in the early part of September of 2007) that I fall under the "Farmer's Market Clause". Because of this, he said, I don't need a health license. You can imagine how happy I was to hear that!
In the last 6 months, though, I have had a few customers call me about potentially making a cake for them. But, after I tell them that I am an in-home bakery, they asked me, "Do you know that in-home bakeries are illegal in Kansas?"
The first time I was asked that, I politely answered them that I fell under the "Farmer's Market Clause" and reassured them that in-home bakeries ARE LEGAL in Kansas. After the second person told me similar information, I had asked them where they had gotten that information at. Them told me that a cake maker in Leawood had told them that info. She also has stated the "illegality" of in-home bakeries on her website.
Please, don't take me wrong. I don't know who this baker is; I have no quarrels with her. My concern is, ...are in-home bakeries REALLY illegal in Kansas like she says? Was the info I was given last year incorrect? Is it true that "anybody who makes and sells any kind of food for the public" has to be inspected and licensed? I want to make sure that everything I make and sell is legal. I have a real talent and a deep love for what I do, and I intend to grow my business in the future.
If what I was told by the Dept. of Ag. last year was true, could you please send me that "Farmer's Market Clause" by email, if possible? If what I was told was incorrect, could you please point me in the direction of what I should do and who I should talk to to get inspected and licensed.
Thank you so much for your time and attention on this matter.
I hope you have a wonderful week!
I just looked at your website, and I agree, you have a great talent. You probably talked to me last year, and that information is still correct. If you sell non-potentially hazardous baked goods directly to the end consumer, you are not required to have a license. The Kansas Dept. Of Agriculture will still expect you to follow guidelines set by the Kansas Food Code, and for your information, even though you are not required to have a license, if we receive a complaint, we have the authority to inspect any facility that produces or sells food in the state of Kansas. I will attach a handout that we have on our website www.ksda.gov that explains what can be sold at farmers market without a license.
Division of Food Safety and Lodging
Kansas Dept. Of Agriculture
Well! That just shored up my confidence! I now knew that what the other baker was saying was wrong.... Needless to say, "the right hand didn't know what the left hand was doing". I found out the hard way(some of you guys' worst business nightmare) that Overland Park is the ONLY city in the whole dern state that requires EVERY food business to be health licensed and inspected. Yep, that same baker called the city health inspectors on me and they came to pay me a little visit. She even called the state and told them that I was selling cheesecakes(which I wasn't) so that they would come out, too. A few weeks later, she called the city again and told them about other in-home bakers in OP that weren't licensed....she doesn't play nicely with others in the sandbox, ya know what I'm sayin'?
The city was very nice to deal with, though. I just had to make a few adjustments, put in a bit more lighting, and pay the $100 annual licensing fee. They realized, after the second phone call to the city, that this baker was just trying to get rid of her competition. They also realized that the other in-home bakers were going off of info that was given to them from the State, and they all though that they were legal, too. The city probibly figured that this was all a huge can of worms that was being opened and that they would be wasting their time and resources chasing it all down,...so they dropped it.
The state was even better to deal with. They came out, I showed them the email from Mr. Moris and assured them that I do not sell perishable items. The inspector said, "Yeah, Steve's my boss. If he says you're good then we have no problem with you."
So, a few lessons for all to be learned here.
1. In Kansas, you're fine if you sell non-perishable goods from your home directly to your clients.
2. If there is a complaint, they have the right to come out and inspect and require you to bring it up to code, BUT you still DO NOT have to get licensed.
3. Overland Park... is a whole 'nother story.
4. If you're thinking of throwing your competition under the bus just to get rid of them....don't do it! Remember the old saying, "What you put into the lives of others will come back to you."