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Home Made Cookies and Baked Goods as a Business

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Dear Business Guy,  

We make some of the best Home Made cookies around along with brownies and other baked goods.  We think people will really like them because we actually make them at home!   We would like to sell them at farmer’s markets on the weekend.  Since we are not renting a store, we don’t have to get any permits, Correct?  Are there any restrictions?

A.  Editor’s Note.  This information has changed.  A small business friendly bill actually made it through Sacramento that allows you to make food at home and even sell it from you home–before even bake-sales were illegal in California.  But there are limitations.  The law is effective January 2, 2013.  See this article for more information about the homemade food law.  

Thanks for asking us about you home based business.  There are some regulations which might get in the way of your plans.  First, the Orange County Health Department does not allow food to be sold if it’s made in a residential kitchen.  You need to do your baking in a kitchen certified by the health department.  The Farmers Market Manager’s will need to confirm that you have made your cookies in a certified kitchen.   You can rent a commercial kitchen to do your cooking in, and you can also contract to have your “homemade” baked goods made for you with your label.  For more info, see this article on the restrictions to selling homemade food.   And check out the website for the Orange County Health Department for more information.

If you are preparing the food yourself in a kitchen approved by the health department, you will have to get a Food Workers Card by taking a class on safely handeling and preparing food.  The Farmers Market Manager will generally also require that you have a State of California Resale Permit along with a City Business License for the city you are selling in.  These are not hard to get  if you are renting space in a Swap Meet or Farmers Market.  Click her to find our more information about getting these permits.  Another challenge you will face is getting into a Farmers Market.  Many of them have limited opportunities for prepared foods, and it’s hard to get into the more popular markets.  The rents are not necessarly much higher for popular Farmers Markets.  Click her for a list of Orange County Farmers Markets.

We hope this answered your business questions.  Feel free to e-mail us more questions.  As always we will not publish your name; and as the saying goes there are not stupid questions.
(c) OCSmallBusiness.com

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