How to sell home baked goods?
September 23, 2008 9:31 AM   Subscribe

I am a culinary student in NYC studying the art of Pastry. I would like to start a small home business and make pastries to sell at local craft fairs. Does any one know how to go about this? How do the laws and regulations differ for home baking versus commercial baking? Is it even permissible to bake at home and sell at craft fairs? Would it be easer to rent out commercial space and then sell at the fairs? Help would be appreciated. Thanks!

My wife is a crafter and sells at craft fairs in NYC. I would like to make chocolates and other baked goods for her to sell and I am just wondering how to go about it.
posted by Stagecraft to Law & Government (6 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Cornell's Northeast Center for Food Entrepreneurship might be a good resource for you.
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:55 AM on September 23, 2008

I have second-hand knowledge about almost exactly this situation (a friend started a sorbet business, sells at farmer's markets.) To legally sell food, you have to prepare it in a commercial kitchen, for which there is a long and complicated set of requirements. While it's theoretically possible to renovate and license a home kitchen for commercial use, it's difficult and expensive; you'll be better off renting space in an already-licensed kitchen. This is in CA, but some googling suggests that the situation is similar throughout the US.
posted by ook at 10:02 AM on September 23, 2008

Yes, you do need a professional kitchen, as well as various licenses and certifications. A lot of small-scale food producers in NY rent time at this space in Long Island City.
posted by neroli at 10:32 AM on September 23, 2008

Seconding ook..
I'm in NY (though not NYC) and looked into this for a bake sale to help a non-profit. Even then, you need a health department-approved kitchen, which was bad for us. Bottom line: You'll definitely need to rent space. You'll also want to talk to the people at each fair and inquire about what individual regulations they have on labeling of ingredients, packaging, etc.
posted by knile at 10:36 AM on September 23, 2008

Specific NY state and NYC local laws, regulations, and licensing requirements apply. Please, people, don't give advice from someplace in California, or anywhere else -- "some googling suggests that the situation is similar throughout the US" is absolutely dead wrong, misleading, and would get Stagecraft in trouble if s/he followed it.

Repeat your question to the folks who are training you. They hear it every semester, and they'll be able to point you to the relevant regulations at the city and state websites and/or the relevant published guides.
posted by gum at 6:00 PM on September 23, 2008

gum, are you suggesting that NYC does not require food to be prepared in a commercial kitchen? Because I'm having a difficult time seeing how what I said could be considered wrong or misleading otherwise, or how it could possibly get Stagecraft in trouble.

I do agree with your sentiment in the more complicated legal questions, but it's a little out of left field on this one...
posted by ook at 8:32 PM on September 23, 2008

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