September 26, 2023

Allergen-Free Baker Pushes State For Law Allowing Home Bakeries

by admin in Food Allergy News0 Comments

When Felicia Hill baked a cake for her son’s birthday three years ago, she had no idea that the endeavor would end with a trip to the Washington State capitol and a change in state law. The stay-at-home mom just wanted her son to get a slice of birthday cake that was safe for him to eat.

On Friday, Washington state’s ‘cottage foods’ law went into effect, largely due to her efforts. The new law will allow small-scale bakers and cooks to legally sell foods made in their home kitchen. It will allow bakers like Hill to sell allergen-free cakes and other specialty baked goods.

Hill’s son Daniel, who is now 5 years old, has a severe peanut allergy. Ingesting any peanut products could be life-threatening. As those with severe peanut allergies well know, many baked goods available from commercial bakeries have been processed with equipment also used to handle peanuts, even if the recipe itself does not include nuts.

For Daniel’s second birthday, Felicia could not find a bakery that could guarantee a peanut-free cake. So instead she took a cake-decorating class and baked him a special peanut-free cake. Soon, she began receiving requests from friends and family members for peanut-, gluten-, and dairy-free cakes to accommodate food allergies. She then decided to start selling her creations to supplement the household income. Despite the added income, she says, it’s not about money. “It’s knowing I can provide a product that’s scarce. You don’t find many allergy friendly places.”

In researching her new business venture, Hill discovered that giving away cakes baked in a home kitchen is legal, but foods must be baked in a commercial kitchen in order to be sold. Opening a commercial kitchen would have cost $40,000 to $50,000, well out of the range of most home bakers. Instead of giving up, Hill learned that a senator had introduced a bill that would enable bakers like her to sell goods they made at home. She lobbied for the change, and ultimately the law won approval.

When the new laws take effect, home bakers will be able to sell their products after first obtaining a food handler card and having their home kitchen inspected by the state, which will examine cleanliness and other food safety concerns. The baked goods will need to include a full ingredient list, as with foods sold from a commercial kitchen.

The new Washington State law will make it easier for small-scale bakers to create specialty foods such as allergen-free baked goods. Read more about the new legislation here: http://www.columbian.com/news/2011/jul/27/local-baker-helps-whip-up-new-…

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