Texas Cottage Foods Bill… Tightening the Screws!

by Mari Ann on February 14, 2012

Texas Cottage Foods Law Restrictions

This MARI Method Cake's Not Legal!

During the 82nd Legislative Session, the Texas Legislature enacted Senate Bill 81, known as the “Texas Cottage Foods” Law. This bill allows Texas entrepreneurs to legally produce baked goods, jams, jelly & dried herb mixes for sale at a person’s home.

This bill was definitely a step in the right direction.

However, it contains MANY restrictions that most people are not aware of:

  • Item can only be sold from the home, not farmer’s markets.
  • Item must be paid for, and picked up, from the home of the baker… no deliveries
  • Annual gross income of $50,000 or less from the sale of the food
  • Item cannot be any food that is “potentially hazardous” that requires time/temperature control for safety

So, basically, the law says that you can produce foods that are baked at a high temperature and don’t require refrigeration. This leaves the door open for anyone producing cakes with lots of sugar, white flour and hydrogenated fats and high sugar jellies and jams, but says “NO!” to fresh products requiring refrigeration.

But, for that resourceful mom who’s baking wholesome casseroles to supplement her families’ income… sorry, she’s out of luck! In fact, she’s now conducting a criminal activity, and the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) could swoop down on her at any moment since her product requires refrigeration.

And cheesecake? Nope, that one’s illegal, too. Even if made from fresh, all natural ingredients (maybe I should say ESPECIALLY if made from fresh, all natural ingredients!).

Oh, yeah, and whatever you do… don’t be too successful! Note that is $50K GROSS income (not NET), meaning before you deduct the cost of your ingredients!

More Restrictions in the Works

As if the rules are not restrictive enough, now Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) wants to tighten the screws by proposing additional legislation.

One of the proposed restrictions is about labeling.

Don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against disclosing what is included in the baked goods. But a simple sheet showing the list of ingredients, if the purchaser requests it, is not what the DSHS has in mind! Their proposed changes would require:

  1. Every ingredient must be listed by weight in descending order, including food coloring and preservatives.
  2. Allergen labeling in compliance with the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004 must be added.
  3. The net weight of all products be listed on a separate label
  4. Guidelines for the type of ink, font and size are also listed.

Note especially the rule pulled from the FDA about “allergens”… Does this mean the product must contain

“PEANUT ALLERGY ALERT! This product was produced in a home that also prepares peanut butter sandwiches.”

The DSHS is trying to circumvent the law, and imposed restrictions upon home bakers that are more restrictive than those imposed upon commercial establishments!

Don’t believe me? Think about the last time you ordered dessert in a restaurant. Did it come with a detailed list of ingredients?? Absolutely not!

Let’s Not Forget Farmer’s Markets

Their second proposed change is about Farmer’s Market’s. Currently, you can apply for, and receive a temporary permit to sell items baked on site at a farmer’s market. The DSHS’s proposed change would be that Farmer’s Markets be classified as “food establishments’, and be required to meet all the rules/requirements of a food establishment!

Yes, I’m aware that people actually sell baked goods, jams, jelly’s, etc at Farmer’s Markets all the time. But, by doing so, they are breaking the law.

Wouldn’t logic dictate that we make the practice legal, so that producer’s can get liability insurance?? Oh, wait…we’re talking law here, not logic.

ACTION STEP #1

When I contacted my state Senator & Congressman about this earlier today, they were not yet aware of these proposed changes by the DSHS. So, it’s important that you contact them and ask them to contact the DSHS requesting that they withdraw these proposed changes to the Cottage Foods Law and the Farmer’s Market rule.

You can contact your state representatives here:

Cll the Capitol Switchboard at 512-463-4630 or go to http://www.fyi.legis.state.tx.us

Meanwhile, you may want to mention to them that you want to see laws implemented to encourage food entrepreneurs in Texas. This includes fresh foods, too. Currently, if you want to produce a fresh food product for sale in Texas, you have to be using a commercial kitchen AND be licensed as a manufacturer! This places an undue financial burden on a fledgling entrepreneur who wants to test the viability of a product before moving to mass production.

ACTION STEP #2

Texas Criminal? Make Sure You Don't Cut Those!


Contact the DSHS directly and express your disapproval.

EMAIL: ruth.hendy@dshs.state.tx.us

DEADLINE: Comments must be received by February 26

SAMPLE EMAIL #1:

This sample letter, provided by FarmAndRanchFreedom.org is just to give you some ideas in writing your own letter. Your letter can be just a few sentences long, and it will still help make a difference. Remember to personalize your letter for the greatest impact!

Dear Ms. Hendy:

I urge the agency to withdraw the proposed rule for farmers’ markets and remove the references to farmers markets in the cottage food rule.

Classifying farmers markets as food establishments is a novel step that will burden many farmers’ markets with a new layer of permitting, regulation, and fees.

In addition, the agency has not explained the reasons for its addition of cut leafy greens and cut tomatoes to the list of potentially hazardous foot items, nor what impact this change will have on the many small farmers and farmers markets who handle these items. These items should not be added without a thorough analysis of their implications.

Thank you for your time and attention.
Name

EMAIL: cheryl.wilson@dshs.state.tx.us

DEADLINE: Comments must be received by February 26

SAMPLE EMAIL #2:

This sample letter, provided by Texas Baker’s Bill Facebook Group is just to give you some ideas in writing your own letter. Your letter can be just a few sentences long, and it will still help make a difference. Remember to personalize your letter for the greatest impact!

Dear Ms. Wilson:

I object to all the proposed rules for cottage food operations, and I request that you go back to the drawing board and follow the legislative intent of the law.

Thank you for your time and attention.
Name

Wrap Up

Many of these laws/rules/restrictions are in place because we have allowed them to happen. We just “assumed” that the local bake sale was legal. We just assumed that the products we buy at Farmer’s Markets are legal. We just assumed that our local food entrepreneur was legal.

Now’s the time to speak out and let your Texas State Representative know that you want the restrictions lifted, not increased! Texans should be encouraged to pursue entrepreneurial activities instead of being saddled with more government interference.

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If so, please leave a comment below AND share on Facebook/Twitter. Heck, you can even Pin it!
Just help spread the word…. ENOUGH!


Mari Ann Lisenbe creator and CEO of The MARI Method

Mari Ann Lisenbe


BIO:
Mari Ann Lisenbe is the creator and CEO of The MARI Method where they teach “Train Your Mind and Your Body Will Follow!”. Her mindful approach to weight loss is helping people, many who’ve struggled with weight their whole lives, finally lose weight and keep it off… without feeling deprived.

After struggling with health and weight issues for many years, Mari Ann refused to believe the specialists who said she was “just depressed and should take anti-depressants”. Mari Ann kept digging until she discovered the real culprits causing her to stay overweight and in pain — gluten & sugar. The first-hand knowledge she gained during this search was the beginning of The MARI Method.

Mari Ann’s degree is in Computer Science degree, and she’s a Certified Metabolic-Typing Advisor. Her passion is inspiring others to lose weight and live in health so they can fulfill God’s calling on their lives. Just as she has done herself.

At 57 years old, Mari Ann is living proof that you can continue living a strong active life when you learn to honor and respect the body God gave you.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Kelley at 7:19 pm

They may have told you that, but they are not lawyers, they are public health workers. By the law, the sale must take place at the home. That is all. Delivery is allowed, by the letter of the law.

Please scroll down to the Sept. 1, 2011 entry here and read the bold paragraph.
http://farmandranchfreedom.org/Texas-2011
http://farmandranchfreedom.org/sff/Ltr-williamson-cottage-foods-110826.pdf

Reply

Mari Ann at 8:05 pm

Thanks for the clarification!

Reply

Kelley at 6:47 pm

Deliveries are allowed under SB 81.

Reply

Mari Ann at 7:12 pm

Hi Kelley, I know that you know your stuff, and I thank you for all you’ve done to help get the existing bill passed.
However, when I talked to DSHS last fall, they told me it has to be paid for, and picked up from, your home.
The way the bill is currently written, it leaves it to the discretion of the enforcers… which is never a good thing.

Reply

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