Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Cottage Foods Bill Passes Legislature, Awaiting Governor's Signature to Allow Sale of Home Goods

The new bill would make is possible for independent food crafters like Roma Chocolates, pictured, to sell their goods in storefronts.
(Photo by Krista Simmons/LAist)

August 31, 2012 - Bill AB 1616, also known as the Cottage Foods Bill, passed the legislature today, and is currently awaiting signature by the state's Governor.

The bill was written in response to the incident where the Los Angeles County Health Department ordered Mark Stambler to stop selling the bread he baked each week in his backyard oven in Los Feliz. At the time, the 59 year-old had hoped baking could become his full-time business.

If signed by the Governor, the bill would still come with regulations. 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 would rise to $50,000 by 2015. Anyone selling directly to consumers would also have to register with local health departments and take courses in food handling.

According to Gatto, the courses would be slightly more stringent than the food safety certifications that can currently be obtained online for food professionals in California.
“This final step is substantial for food makers like Mark, stay-at-home parents, culinary enthusiasts, job seekers and all those who want to know where their foods come,” said Gatto in a release today. “I hope that the Governor will join me and the thousands of people statewide that are looking to develop their businesses and purchase healthier, more locally produced foods for their families.”

There are hopes that the bill will provide job opportunities for folks amidst the flailing economy. According to Patt Morisson on KPCC, "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."

So if everyone really likes your pies this Labor Day weekend, keep in mind that it could maybe actually become a career.

See a five minute video of the story behind AB 1616 and learn more about Assemblyman Mike Gatto's support for Mark Stambler and other Cottage Food businesses by clicking HERE

Read this article and more at the LAist HERE

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Mike Gatto is the Chairman of the Appropriations Committee of the California State Assembly.  He represents the cities of Burbank, Glendale, and Los Feliz and Silver Lake neighborhoods of Los Angeles.  E-mail Mike at: assemblymember.gatto@assembly.ca.gov, or call (818) 558-3043.

Website of Assemblyman Mike Gatto: www.asm.ca.gov/gatto

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