A law passed this summer allowing in-home bakers to sell their goods is icing on the cake for Megan Ledbetter.
Gov. Nikki Haley signed into law in June the Cottage Food Bill, which permits the sale of “nonpotentially hazardous” candy and baked goods that have been prepared and processed in an individual’s home, a practice which has been prohibited by the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control for years.
Ledbetter is now able to sell her baked goods, like cookies and brownies, out of her home and at the Aiken County Farmers Market legally.
District 83 Rep. Bill Hixon introduced it in the S.C. House in January while District 25 Sen. Shane Massey introduced a similar bill in March, both OK’ing the sale of certain goods as long as the individual or entity meets certain sanitary, packaging and labeling guidelines.
Both said they were contacted by constituents who wished to sell baked goods that they had made in their homes and were frustrated with the current law. Previously, the law stipulated that goods meant for sale had to be prepared in a DHEC-approved kitchen.
Before the passage of the law, Ledbetter said she was debating whether adding on to her kitchen at home to bring it up to DHEC standards or renting appropriate space so she could bake then sell her products. Now, she can bake at home and sell her creations without fear of reprisal.
“A lot of people were doing it anyway (baking at home), and this is just making it legal,” Massey said. “People can do this without the fear of someone knocking on the door.”
The law was meant to protect consumers from a potential outbreak of food-borne illness like botulism, but SCDHEC has reported it has no record of an outbreak from “low-risk” foods like cakes and pastries.
“This is one of the ways I wanted to get government out of people’s lives,” Hixon said. “We have ladies in North Augusta – my mother gets a red velvet cake from a lady two or three times a year – and I just wouldn’t want anybody to bother them.”
Homemade foods not allowed to be sold are jams and jellies, meat or vegetable products, and anything that would require refrigeration.
Each home-based production operation must have a properly functioning refrigeration unit, adequate storage space and an adequate sink in which to wash a person’s hands and to clean and sanitize utensils and equipment. All food items must be packaged and labeled with the name and address of the food production operation, the item’s ingredients, and wording stating that the item is not subject to state food safety regulations.
In-home bakers must also apply for an exemption from inspection and label review with the S.C. Department of Agriculture if they intend to sell their goods at farmers and flea markets.
Hixon heard from owners of small bakeries who were concerned that the law would draw customers away from their businesses. But, he maintains people have been selling their homemade baked goods for years without it hampering other businesses.
“I said, ‘I understand, but this isn’t going to start new competition,’” he said.
Staff photos by Haley Hughes Before the Cottage Food Law passed, it was illegal to bake goods in your home then sell them like Megan Ledbetter does. Ledbetter ices a batch of cookies she’ll sell at the Aiken County Farmers Market this weekend.×