A long time ago, we told you about my friend Mark Stambler, who built a bread oven in his back yard, won a blue ribbon at the State Fair for his baguettes, tried selling it to local restaurants, and was shut down by County Health. Even though bread (and many other homemade foods) is not potentially hazardous, what Mark was doing was illegal.
In stepped Assemblyman Mike Gatto with his Homemade Food Act, AB 1616.
Now, 99% of the time, legislation dies on the first try, but 1616 made it through committee, through the Assembly, then the Senate, and on Friday, was signed by Governor Brown. It puts some limits on people like Mark, and that's probably as it should be, but it allows him to keep baking, and puts California in line with 32 other states with so-called "cottage food laws."
In a smart move, the bill includes this language:"One in every nine California children, one in three teens, and over half of adults are already overweight or obese. This epidemic affects virtually all Californians. These health conditions are preventable and curable through lifestyle choices that include consumption of healthy fresh foods." So not only does passage support small business, but fights obesity!
We especially like this line: "Even some bake sales are currently illegal in California." You can just see a photo of a little girl selling brownies getting shut down by the big mean public health inspector.
Here's the episode of Off-Ramp's EatLA in which we tell the whole story, with Colleen Bates of EatLA, Mark Stambler, and Assemblyman Gatto.