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Texas' New Food Cottage Law Might Actually Mean Something for Home Bakers After All

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The Texas Baker's Bill is getting closer to being useful to bakers.

Late last week, news circulated about new language for the Texas Food Cottage Law, which passed last year and allows home bakers to legally sell their goods with a few certain conditions. After the law was passed, the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) had the job of establishing a set of guidelines for labels on home baked goods, and wrote a set of rules that many Texas home bakers felt were heavy-handed and in conflict with the original intent of the law. The rules -- weight of each product, a complete list of ingredients in descending order and full allergen disclaimers -- would have been difficult for home bakers with limited resources.

Bakers rallied. In the end, the DSHS had the choice to either accept the new guidelines as they were written in committee or revise them based on public input.

On Thursday Lora Ann Gerson, who is a staffer in Senator Kirk Watson's office, forwarded an email to a cottage food law supporter Kara Perry, with details on the new revised language. And for the most part, the bakers are happy with them.

Kelley Masters has been a major driving force behind this movement and runs a Facebook page, Texas Baker's Bill, that serves as a hub of information for the law.

"I'm satisfied with the new proposed rules," Masters wrote in an email. "In my opinion, they are a fair compromise that serves the public interest."

The proposed language simplifies the labeling process. Per the email from Senator Watson's office, which was forwarded from Olivia Walker with the DSHS, labels will need to include the address of the food production operation, the common or usual name of the product, lists of any major food allergens, and a statement that the item was made in a home kitchen.

"The only two additions to the language in the statute are the common name of the food item, which is easy to comply with, and the list of major allergens," Masters wrote. "Because my son has a food allergy, I can clearly see the value in this kind of declaration on the label. It does serve the public's health to have this declaration."

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