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  • Cottage food regulations.

    I was hoping to start a business and do all the prep work at home such as mixing dough. I thought I would be able to do that (at least I was hoping) under the cottage regulations and to my surprise when talking to health food inspector was told I need to use an approved commissary to do that.
    My question is everyone else renting space from a commissary to prep dough and storage until using it?
    Thanks Paul.

  • #2
    Welcome to the forum Paul! I'm in Oregon and started baking bread in my WFO with some thoughts of selling. Oregon laws are similar to California it sounds like. I could get a business license for a bakery business but would have to follow several rules and procedures that frankly seemed to include good things and archaic concepts that did not pertain to baking bread in a WFO. As my retirement project/hobby, I wanted to make bread and then donate it to food kitchens or our local VA hospital...a no go from everyone! I can make a couple dozen loaves and give them to the police station with no problems...also, I can take my bread and give it to my neighbors--but not sell it to them. I did find out that there is a way around this in Oregon. If you have people contract with you to make them bread, none of the rules apply (go figure). You might check to see if there is something like that in CA. Also, if you give away your bread and have a "tip jar" available then that's also OK here.

    I did sell some loaves at a small local town's Open Air Market and all I needed to do was to display a sign that said "These breads have been produced in a unlicensed kitchen." I addressed the local Farmer's Market and that exception clause was not valid...apparently an Open Air Market and a Farmer's Market have different rules. I was unwilling to continue fighting these confusing rules and just give my bread away to my neighbors and friends. I was frankly a little appalled when talking to a little store down the road that had a licensed kitchen...masking tape on a cupboard that said "food stuffs only", two plastic wash basins to bring the kitchen sink total to three (soap, disinfectant, & rinse), etc. It made me lose faith in the whole process.

    I met a fellow in Utah that started a business called Red Bicycle Bakery and he worked with a local store's in house bakery. He contracted with them to come in, make his dough using their equipment, and bake in their ovens during the store's down hours. He's been very successful and his breads come out around 4 in the afternoon and are all gone by 4:30! The store loves it because they are getting more customers in and have very little extra overhead costs since he's setting up, baking, and cleaning up with "his" folks.

    Anyway, there are some options out there for you I'm sure. I'd be making and giving away breads to friends and relatives to develop some potential demand and ideas of what daily product volume you are thinking about. It would be interesting to look at what the commercial kitchen license requirements are in California. We've been in Palm Springs several times when the street fair has a lady selling little loaves of bread she bakes daily in her home oven (lots of people love her little Macadamia and Date loaves...)

    Sorry to be so wordy, but I hope some of this helps (even though it's primarily based on my Oregon experiences )
    Mike Stansbury - The Traveling Loafer
    Roseburg, Oregon

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