Calling it "California's newest business craze," Businessweek reports on the California Homemade Food Act that went into effect on Jan. 1. While home-based artisan bread makers and others can now sell their wares to restaurants and grocery stores, the Golden State's cottage food law hopes to solve some problems while it might create others.
Have Californians sold homemade food before this law was enacted?
As long ago as 2008, MSNBC reported on Southern Californians who prepared "bathtub cheese," which is a type of queso fresco literally made in bathtubs. Due to unsanitary conditions and the use of milk from TB-infected cattle, the M. tuberculosis strain was introduced to the population. Its resistance to standard drug treatments has made it more deadly than the traditional form of TB. In spite of these warnings, the bathtub cheese industry continued to flourish. In 2011, Turn to 23 warned that a local food market allegedly sold this product.
What does the California Homemade Food Act stipulate?
California Legislative Information explains that cottage food industry entrepreneurs have to meet certain guidelines with respect to "training, sanitation, preparation, labeling, and permissible types of sales" before they are able to prepare and sell a wide variety of baked goods, candies, dried fruits and pastas, fruit pies, granolas, herb blends, honeys, vinegars, dried teas and roasted coffees. Entrepreneurs must also apply for permits to turn their residences' kitchens into commercial ventures. Allowing for official inspections and limiting the production of food to items that do not contain meat or dairy products, it is hoped that the new law will do away with dangerous homemade food products like bathtub cheese.
Why did the governor sign this proposed law?
As noted in Gov. Jerry Brown's news release announcing his signing of the law, the official stated that California's Homemade Food Act was one of the laws that "make it easier for people to do business in California."
Are California's cottage food entrepreneurs happy with the new law?
Some small business owners believe that the new law gives budding food entrepreneurs a false sense of ability, Mission Local notes. "I don't want people to think that's it. Eventually they're going to have to rent a place," a local food producer told the publication. Believing that a competitive edge in California's food retail business calls for volume, some business insiders warn entrepreneurs that while going legal is great, it is not the end of the line -- particularly now that there will be many more legal competitors.
Sylvia Cochran is a Los Angeles area resident with a firm finger on the pulse of California politics. Talk radio junkie, community volunteer and politically independent, she scrutinizes the good and the bad from both sides of the political aisle.