Susan K. Livio
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) As Susan Livio reports, “Baking from home for profit is finally legal in New Jersey.”
The state Department of Health on Monday published a set of rules that will allow bakers and confectioners to apply for a permit to run a “cottage food” business from their very own kitchens.
New Jersey was the only state in the country that prohibited culinary entrepreneurs from making and selling cakes, brownies and other delectables from home. The state required they operate from a commercial kitchen, out of concern for sanitation and safety.
But the New Jersey Home Bakers Association and the Institute for Justice challenged the rule in court on constitutional grounds, arguing it protected commercial bakers and other food manufacturers at the expense of private individuals who wanted a chance to earn some extra money.
The health department announced in July it was scrapping the restrictions on selling home-baked goods. The new rules took effect Monday, with the state publishing in the New Jersey Register the application for a cottage food business license. The license, which must be renewed every two years, costs $100.
“New Jersey home bakers have been fighting for years for the right to bake. Today is the culmination of their hard work and time spent fighting for their rights,” Institute for Justice Attorney Rob Peccola said in a statement.
More than 80% of home bakers in the U.S. who responded to an Institute for Justice survey are women and had a median income of $36,000. For the majority, baking is a hobby or a chance to make some extra money. Half work full- or part-time jobs, while nearly a quarter are retired and 15% identified as homemakers.
“The door is now open for bakers to be compensated for their talents just as any other professional is paid for their time and services,” said Mandy Coriston of Newton, a member of the New Jersey Home Bakers Association. “More importantly, it offers consumers a new freedom of choice in where they source their baked goods, and allows bakers across every walk of life to work in the place they feel most comfortable—their homes.”
Home-based bakers must follow some rules and attest they will operate in a clean and safe environment. They cannot earn more than $50,000 a year. The home baker must be willing to submit to an on-site inspection if a complaint is filed, according to the regulations.
They are limits to what may be produced and sold. These items include breads, cakes, cupcakes, cookies, pastries, candy, dried fruit, dried pasta, jams and jellies, fruit pies, fudge, granola, popcorn and caramel corn, roasted coffee, dried tea, herbs, pizzelles and more. State permission is needed to make additional items, according to the rules.
They must label their products with a list of ingredients and a notice that the food was prepared in a home kitchen that has not been inspected by the state.
“I have been a part of this effort since 2015, alongside the four incredible women that make up the board of the New Jersey Home Bakers Association. I am beyond happy that New Jersey has a cottage food law,” said Martha Rabello of Fanwood, a plaintiff in the lawsuit. “I can’t wait to see New Jersey home bakers thriving.”
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