Late last night, after a tense end-of-session standoff on the Senate floor, the beefed-up Cottage Food Bill, HB 970, passed and is now on the way to the Governor's desk. As we reported last week, there was some fear the bill wouldn't make it on the final calendar for a Senate vote. Then, once that hurdle was passed, it came down to the wire.
Home bakers across the state will wake up to the good news. Around midnight last night, a follower on the Texas Baker's Bill Facebook page posted, "I'll take my 21 flavors of fudge to the market."
For a brief history, in the 2011 legislative session a bill made it legal for home bakers to sell certain goods, which did not require refrigeration. This session, Representative Eddie Rodriguez of Austin introduced a bill that expanded sells to include nut butters, popcorn, cereal, granola, vinegars, dried fruits and vegetables, mustard, pickles, coffee and tea.
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More important, it prohibits a municipality (like Plano) from outlawing cottage food operations under the guise of zoning issues and it allows bakers to deliver and sell their goods outside the home, like at farmers markets, fairs and festivals.
Additionally, home food operators are now required to take a two-hour, $10 food handler's course to make sure we're all on the same page in terms of cleanliness. Also, all food must be packaged to prevent cross-contamination. These safety measures are in addition to the previously passed previsions, which require that all packages be clearly labeled that the product was made in a home kitchen.
I feel like we're all covered here. Bake away.
Unless Governor Perry vetoes the bill, it will become law on September 1.