- April 1, 2014
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A new bill would expand Louisiana’s “cottage food” law, which lets home-bakers and cooks sell their tasty treats with minimal government hassle. Currently, the state's law is pretty limited and only allows jellies, jams, honey products, cakes and cookies to be sold. But if enacted, HB 775 would expand the types of “low-risk” food that can be made at home legally, which would include candies, pickles, sauces, spices and more baked goods.
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The bill would also allow entrepreneurs to earn more at home, without having to rent out expensive commercial kitchen space. Currently, Louisiana law caps gross annual sales of cottage food at $20,000. HB 775 would raise that to $50,000. That's a step in the right direction, but restricting how much entrepreneurs can legally earn is completely arbitrary. In fact, 20 states have no sales cap at all, according to a report by the Harvard Food Law & Policy Clinic. HB 775 is currently pending before the House Committee on Health and Welfare.
State Representative Scott Simon introduced the bill “to really kick start a home-based economy.” “We need to make it easier for budding chefs and bakers to bring more items to local markets without the burden of stifling food preparation codes,” he continued.
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States that have reduced the regulatory barriers for food entrepreneurs have spurred economic growth. California legalized selling food made at home and, in just a year, created over a thousand local businesses. A dozen county health departments in California also reported they haven't received a single complaint about these cottage food businesses.
In contrast, some states have cottage food laws that are so restrictive they lead to lawsuits. The Institute for Justice is currently representing two home bakers in Minnesota who are banned from earning more than $5,000 a year and can't sell their freshly baked goods anywhere except for farmers' markets or local events. Minnesota's bureaucrats should have egg on their face.
-- Nick Sibilla
Nick Sibilla is a writer at the Institute for Justice