At present, Louisiana prohibits the sale of home-baked goods to the public. That’s right: a citizen cannot make a loaf of bread, a birthday cake, or a pan of brownies and legally sell them in this state. Should a home baker want to “go legal”, the baker must put in a commercial kitchen, and it can’t simply be a home kitchen improved to commercial standards. It has to be located a specific number of FEET from the home kitchen, in a separate space. In other words, most start-up home baking businesses are dead in the water, thanks to Louisiana’s climate of over-regulation.
Baked goods–items safely stored at room temperature–are a “low risk” food, meaning the potential foodborne harm is minimal. At least 25 other states recognize this fact and have sensible home baking regulations, called “cottage food laws”, specifically crafted to encourage small-scale home based entrepreneurs. (Most states’ laws distinguish between low risk foods allowed for home production and high risk foods specifically limited to commercial, non-home kitchens.) For example, shoppers visiting any grocery store in Vermont will have dozens of choices for bread and sweets: not just four or five big business labels.
Soon, Louisianians might have the same opportunity, thanks to the good efforts of south Louisiana baker Roxane Daigle. After someone reported her home cupcake business and the Louisiana Board of Health shut her business down, she began researching cottage food laws and talking to her legislators. Senator Rick Ward of Port Allen agreed to sponsor a cottage food bill, which is presently being drafted. The bill will go before the legislature this spring.
To get involved with the reform of home baking laws in Louisiana, check out the Louisiana Cottage Food Law Facebook page and contact your legislators. Read more about Roxane Daigle’s efforts at the Small Food Business blog.
Isn’t democracy wonderful?