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New Jersey standoff on homemade food sales continues

A New Jersey state senator is standing firm on his opposition to legalizing direct-to-consumer sales of certain foods not produced in commercial kitchens, citing food safety and fair competition concerns.


Only the Garden State and Wisconsin have 100 percent bans on “homemade” food sales, often referred to as the cottage food industry by proponents.

New Jersey’s lower chamber, the Assembly, has approved the so-called cookie bill twice, but state Sen. Joseph Vitale who chairs the Health and Human Services Committee has not allowed it to be brought to a vote in the Senate. He told the Associated Press he won’t be changing his stand any time soon.

“There are public safety and public health concerns,” Vitale told the AP.

The bill limits would-be Famous Amos home bakers to $50,000 in annual sales of “home-baked bakery goods.” Vitale has been on the record for years with his contention that such sales volumes would be unfair competition for small business owners who have invested in commercial kitchens to meet legal requirements.

Sen. Christopher Bateman introduced the bakers’ bill in January and told the Associated Press this week that provisions in the legislation would restrict where affected baked goods could be sold, thus making them inconsequential to small business bakers.

Bateman also argues that the bill only allows sales of certain baked goods — which don’t require time or temperature control to limit pathogen growth or toxin formation — which further protects small business that make cookies, breads, muffins and other bakery foods.

“I’m sure it’s being done. Why not legalize it,” the Associated Press reported Bateman said.

The bill defines home-baked as meaning “the bakery good was prepared in a kitchen in a private home that is not subject to regulation and inspection by the Department of Health.” It requires point-of-sale disclosure signs, but does not require labels on the home-baked foods identifying them as such

“A person may sell home-baked bakery goods if the consumer is notified by a clearly visible placard at the point of sale, in a manner prescribed by the commissioner, that the bakery goods were prepared in a kitchen that is not subject to regulation and inspection by the Department of Health,” the bill states.

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