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Don’t Mess with Texas Cottage Food


Local food lovers, Democratic and Republican state reps, the Houston Press and the Dallas Observer, and home bakers groups all pulled together to pass The Texas Cottage Food Bill, a change in the law that allowed Texas home bakers, canners and artisans to sell their homemade foods directly to the public without having to buy a million dollar insurance policy and lease a certified kitchen. (Read the Houston Press story.)

After the bill passed, new rules were drafted behind closed doors by the Department of State Health Services. These rules impose labeling requirements on homemade products like cakes and cookies that commercial bakeries don’t have to follow. Sounds like the Big Food lobbyists are working behind the scenes to kill cottage food businesses before they get started.

These new rules are now open for public comment. We need your help.

Please email
cheryl.wilson@dshs.state.tx.us
right away and tell her to “Stop Messing with the Texas Cottage Food Bill.”

Here’s a statement from one of the bills sponsors, Eddie Rodriguez of Austin:

It is clear to me that these proposed rules subvert the intent of the legislation we worked so hard to pass. We were pretty clear in trying to make it easier for small business to thrive and some of these rules proposed by the state will do just the opposite. I have spoken with the Department of State Health Services and let them know I take issue with their rules and will keep an eye on the process moving forward. I also encourage all cottage industries to weigh in immediately by sending an email to cheryl.wilson@dshs.state.tx.us. and letting them know how you feel. All comments submitted between now and February 26, 2012 will be considered as public comments for DSHS to consider as they redraft the proposed rules.

9 comments to Don’t Mess with Texas Cottage Food

  • Ellen Lamb

    Talk about undermining the intent of the law! These regulators need to get a real job.

  • Food Lion

    Sent:

    Ms. Wilson:

    I have read with some dismay of the Department of State Health Services proposed rules for labeling requirements on homemade products.

    These rules clearly undermine the intent of The Texas Cottage Food Bill recently approved by the legislature and signed into law by Governor Perry.

    I am appalled that your agency would step so heavy-handedly over this Bill. It is shameful for a regulatory agency to try and counteract the will of the people while giving at least the impression of coercion from “big food” interests.

    As a citizen of Texas, I want the freedom to buy cottage food products. The onerous labeling requirements under consideration would severely limit that freedom.

    Sincerely,

  • suz

    (emailed to Ms. Wilson)

    SB 81 sounds like a wonderful law… i was more than delighted to learn about it.

    support for local entrepreneurs!

    the new proposed rules designed to make it virtually impossible to be a home baker are completely ridiculous!!

    how many of us have bought baked goods to support a school, church or other non-profit bake sale?
    weren’t those all lovingly baked in home kitchens?

    i’ve gotten nasty food poisoning from eating in a classy ‘licensed’ restaurant… never from anything home baked or cooked.

    please stick with the original intent of this law and allow us to support our local home bakers.. or even to BE local home bakers.

    thank you!

  • Sarah-Jane

    Just sent this little ditty:

    As a supporter of the Cottage Food Bill and Texas citizen I would like to request no extra sanctions on homemade products. I do not need your protection for the food products I buy. If I want to buy a pie from a friend down the street she doesn’t need to tell me what ingredients are in it or the calorie count. Cottage food are about the craftsmanship and love that go into a homemade product. Stop trying to sterilize them to the point of extinction. It’s bad enough this law had to be passed to protect vendors in the first place.

    Here we are in the midst of a bad recession in Texas–I know I work for the state–and you’re trying to kill or at least make more difficult something that hard working people can do on the side to earn extra income. And it’s so inherently Texan to me. We have great ingredients and local recipes in our state, fine artisans and great handmade products. Don’t squelch the free, creative Texan spirit that keeps some of these artisan foods alive.

    In closing I’d like to commend my mom who ran a business selling cakes and pies when I was young so she could stay home and raise my sister and I. Would that have been possible with the sanctions you’ve tried to pull over? My quality of life, my education and my world view were greatly impacted by the sacrifices my mom made to stay home with us and still provide financially through her skills. Other families deserve that option and consumers have the right to choose where they buy products whether they prefer sterilized, mass produced cookies or ones made in kitchens with kiddos running around getting dough snitches and sampling the overcooked ones. Food made with love and for love.

    Thank you for considering my comments as you make your decisions.

    Sarah-Jane Menefee

  • Teri Davidson

    While all of this focuses on the home baker trying to make a little extra money, I have to ask…what about the thousands of tamales people sell, made from home kitchen and church kitchens? Who is regulating that? Are they going to be required to label their packages just as we are? How many of these folks who want to regulate our cakes and baked goods buy those tamales without a thought to who made them, what’s in them or how sanitary their work environment was? Seriously! Stay out of our kitchens and pocket books so we can help support our families in peace. Find more important issues to discuss like…fixing the economy, protecting our children and the elderly from abuse and use our tax payer funds to make a difference in urgent issues!

  • Do you have a link to the Rules so I can read them?

  • Margaret R

    My family was just recently affected by the down sizing of my husbands company, we have 5 children total two in college and we were hit pretty hard. In order for our financial situation to be okay and us not to rely on state assistant we started a garden and began to can from it. It has grown tremendously and this has become our lively hood. I make over 20 types of jams and jellys as well as pickled items. None of which has artificall additive or preservatives. Can we same the same for the products we are sold in our stores. I also have made a line of no sugar added jams and jelly’s that are all natural and help those that can not have that extra sugar in their diet. Once again the flavor is amazing and they get to experience a wonderful product that is actually not doing them harm. There was a time when canning was an art, and in my opinion still is, it helped family’s survive in the hard times and was a product that was made with lots of love and care. Not only is it sterile from the very beginning of the process it is also sterilized at the end of the process. Can we same the same thing about the gas station down the road that puts a hot dog on a rotissari and lets add how long has it really been there and when was the last time it was really cleaned. Most family’s that cook or bake in their homes make sure their kitchens are clean, for several reason. The same can not really be said about resturants and convient stores.. The reality is… our kitchen are cleaner then most of the places that the health inspectors inspect.

  • I attended The Living Light International Culinary Arts School in Ft Bragg,Ca and have experience as a corporate caterer.
    I do a lot of Health & Wellness Fairs and take raw food samples (food not heated above 118º). I extend those philosophies into the Standard American Diet. My point here is that people want to buy my food products. I’m not in a position to pay the exorbitant fees certified kitchens require. By the time I pay them and food costs, I may as well forget it.
    I would like to volunteer to do whatever I can to support the Texas Cottage Industry and let it be part of our American Heritage without the ridiculous rulings to drum us out. As an American citizen I’m tired of being told what I can buy and where I can buy it from. I am in Houston and I’d like to do something to help. Hope someone reads this message.