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If you’ve every baked or eaten a homemade brownie so good you’d be willing to pay for it, you’re in luck. A new bill moving its way through the California legislature would make it legal for do-it-yourself bakers to sell home-cooked foods. Current laws prevent food prepared in anyplace other than a commercial kitchen to be sold, except in the venerable fundraising bake sale. Home cooked food is a huge industry in the more than 30 others states that already have ‘Bakers Bills’ on their books – to the tune of annual sales of $100 million in West Virginia alone. In trying economic times, the ability for people to sell their home-cooked foods directly to consumers has provided a much needed source of extra income for people who know their way around a cookie sheet or bread oven. California’s bill would still come with regulations, however; permits would still be required, foods would have to be labeled as homemade, ingredients could not include meat or cream and would have to be listed, and gross yearly sales could not exceed $35,000, although that ceiling would rise to $50,000 in 2015. Anyone selling directly to consumers would also have to register with local health departments and take courses in food handling. Food safety experts are less optimistic and cite concerns about the kinds of conditions and possible contaminants in home kitchens.
Would you eat a blueberry scone cooked in a kitchen in a home with a sick child or unruly pet? Should Californians be able to sell brownies make at home? Would you buy them?”
Michael Gatto, Assemblyman for the 43rd Assembly District (representing the cities of Burbank, Glendale, and parts of Los Angeles, including Los Feliz, North Hollywood, Silver Lake, Toluca Lake, Valley Glen, and Van Nuys); co-sponsor of AB1616, California’s proposed ‘baker bill’
Mark Stambler, home baker who was making as many as 50 loaves of bread a week before the Los Angeles County Health Department ordered him to stop