Home bakery sales soon to be legal, 'unregulated' in Texas

Creativity is something Gloria Rodriguez has been whipping up for nearly two decades with the cakes she bakes.

"I would always be the Madrina, always come over here and ask 'can you bake the cake... Can you do this... Can you add this.'"

Rodriguez's family helped turn her passion for baking cakes into a full fledged business.

"I was scared but my in-laws are the ones that helped," she said.

Rent, insurance, proper equipment and staff pay have squeezed out some profits since leaving the comfort of her kitchen.

But Gloria's Specialty Cakes along Harrison Avenue in Harlingen has seen sweet sales ever since opening in January.

The biggest test for her bakery and others like hers will the Texas Cottage Food Law, which goes into effect on September 1st, 2011.

That's when the new state law makes it legal for people to sell cakes and certain other goods they bake from their own home.

The law will eliminate many of the challenges typical brick and mortar shop owners face.

Rodriguez said she knows the competition will rise, but she's not concerned.

"Regardless if there's going to be people out there in their own homes... Doing their own thing... As long as you keep your regular customers happy you'll be alright."

Under the new law, hand-washing, hairnet and glove use would not be required.

That's because home bakeries would be unregulated by city and county health departments.

Senior Health Inspector James Padilla with the Harlingen Health Department is concerned about the law.

He worried that an unchecked home bakery could be a recipe for disaster when it comes to food safety.

He also feared the public would have little to no recourse should somebody get sick after eating food in question from a home kitchen.

"It's essentially eat at your own risk."

Rodriguez's bakery gets inspected at least 3 times a year.

She believed as long as the main ingredient in any kitchen was "cleanliness," that there would be room for any bakery under the law.

SUMMARY OF THE TEXAS COTTAGE FOOD LAW:1) Food must be sold from the person's home, directly to consumer.2) Foods are limited to non-potentially hazardous baked goods like cookies, cakes, breads, pastries, canned jams, dry herb mixes.3) Annual gross income from sales must be $50,000 or less.4) Food items sold must be labeled with the seller's name and address and also must indicate that the kitchen has not been inspected by a health dept.5) Baked goods cannot be sold over the internet, at flea markets, festivals, etc. Click here to read more on the Texas Cottage Food LawClick here to join Ryan Wolf's Facebook Page