California's Cottage Law Dilemma

Business By Laurelj Updated 23 Mar 2013 , 7:31pm by jason_kraft

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Laurelj Posted 23 Mar 2013 , 4:10pm
post #1 of 6

Ok so my daughter and I finally made the decision to become legal under California's Cottage Law. 

Here is my dilemma. According to the paperwork only foods that are defined as "non-potentially" hazardous" are approved, which disqualifies things made containing cream, and/or custards. These are some of our MOST requested baked goods, and our most popular items:


Cheese cakes, Chocolate, Lemon Cream,Bavarian Cream and Boston  Cream pies, tarts, and fillings, Chocolate Ganache items. Swiss Meringue Buttercream


If we take these items off the line, we are left with virtually nothing but the standards. This is what has built up our clientele as we are offering all the premium high end items that most others don't offer. I have worked years perfecting flavors and testing and tweaking recipes 


I was preparing to get legal as we have our first potential large order for a wedding dessert bar in July of this year  and as a matter of fact the client is looking to order many of the items on the  "non approved" list. So now what?  Do I regretfully decline the order with the explanation that the items she had her hopes set on are not items we can legally provide?


Advice please, what would you all do? Thanks for listening and commenting

5 replies
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BeesKnees578 Posted 23 Mar 2013 , 4:30pm
post #2 of 6

In Ohio, if we are a licensed home bakery, we can have refrigerated items. 


Did you look into getting a license, or do they not offer that?


Ohio cottage law does not allow must-refrigerate items and you can just do it, no legal steps need to be taken other than the labeling requirements. 


It's only a $10 fee here for the license to be able to do refrigerated items. No pets and no carpet in the kitchen.  And obviously they check out your fridge, which I have a separate large pepsi cooler in my basement just for cakes.


Good luck and I hope you can have the option of getting a license.

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itsacake Posted 23 Mar 2013 , 5:43pm
post #3 of 6

If your most popular items require a commercial kitchen, it seems your options haven't actually changed. You either need to rent or own a commercial kitchen.  The cottage food law will not help you.


As to what I would do.  My husband and I purchased a commercial condo and built a kitchen.  Before that I paid to share someone else's commercial kitchen. (As someone now pays me)  Before that I gave away a lot of cake and sweets.

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MimiFix Posted 23 Mar 2013 , 6:42pm
post #4 of 6

It doesn't matter what someone else would do, the question is what you are most comfortable doing. itsacake was correct, your product options have not changed even though CA now has a cottage food law. With or without the CFL, your products must be made in a commercial kitchen. (Have you tried renting/bartering lower-cost commercial space from a local community agency such as a school, church, firehall, VFW, etc?)


So your decision is to either: 


1. Become legal and rent a kitchen so you can continue producing your most popular products. 

2. Work under the CFL producing nonhazardous baked goods

3. Continue without benefit of a license.


Only you and your daughter can make this decision. Good luck!


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Norasmom Posted 23 Mar 2013 , 6:58pm
post #5 of 6

I wouldn't risk baking potentially hazardous items under the CFL.  If someone were to get sick eating one of your products, you risk losing everything because you would be sued.  Not worth it.  Best to look into commercial options.

I have found options that don't require refrigeration that are quite good.  "faux" lemon curd being one of them.  Good luck.

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jason_kraft Posted 23 Mar 2013 , 7:31pm
post #6 of 6

ATalk to your county health dept and see which of your recipes would be OK under the cottage food law and which would require a commercial kitchen. If you are satisfied with the allowed recipes then start a home-based business under the CFL, otherwise you would need to rent a commercial kitchen.

If you go the CFL route you would need to contact customers with outstanding orders and change them to allowed recipes. Any orders which would be due before you anticipate receiving your license should be cancelled, and any existing web sites or advertising should be taken down ASAP.

If you need a commercial kitchen you will probably need to cancel all your outstanding orders anyway unless you can rent a kitchen and get up and running legally before they are due.

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