Legal question regarding home-based bakery
Posted: 08 April 2009 09:35 PM   [ Ignore ]
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NC Food law defines pests as “?any objectionable animals or insects, including but not limited to birds, rodents, flies and larvae.” Apparently, this definition is being applied to pet cats as well - I’ve been told, by one of the dozen regulatory authorities that I have to contact, that I can’t bake from home with a pet cat. Our cat is tiny and never even goes into the kitchen, so I’m very disappointed at this conclusion. Since the law doesn’t specifically name cats, and I don’t think there is any case law validating the inclusion of cats in the definition, I wonder if I could legally get away with operating from home. If not, I’ll have to go to Plan B.

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Anne

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Posted: 09 April 2009 06:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Go to plan B.  You don’t want to be on the wrong side of the Health Dept because then they will start looking for every little thing to nail you on.  I know of a local cupcake business who has had the most awful time with the BOH because she skirted the rules; she’s been shut down twice because they are looking to throw the book at her.

Look at the section on whether pets are allowed in a residential setting at all.  If you have a separate kitchen and the pet does not have access to it, that might be ok.  But if you are allowed to bake in your existing home kitchen, the pet - having full access to the home - is going to be a problem.  The BOH is only concerned with the food that comes out of your kitchen and that it is safe, and not contaminated; that’s what their priority is.  They aren’t trying to be difficult about your cat, they wouldn’t allow a pet in a commercial kitchen so they are merely applying the same rules to a residential setting.

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Posted: 09 April 2009 09:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Jeanne,

Thanks for your feedback. I definitely want to operate within the law. I was just hoping that was a little loophole that I could take advantage of, since the definition of “pests” sounds a lot more disgusting than a pet cat to me. I wish I could get started from home before committing to a commercial kitchen!

Anne

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Posted: 09 April 2009 12:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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you could always try to ban the cat for a limited time and get your inspection done, but you’re going to have to take extra precautions to be sure that no cat hair comes into your kitchen and that’s what’s difficult.  as i’m sure you know, pet hair gets into everything. i would have baking clothes which go from the laundry to the kitchen and the cat would have to stay out of the kitchen at all times. even when not baking. to me the worst is not the health department, it’s selling a cupcake with a cat hair (or any hair)  in it.

The thing about a commercial kitchen is that if you don’t control the kitchen completely you can have the same problems there. so be super diligent about cleanliness. you may want to take a food safety course for food professionals. i found it to be very informative (not to mention disgusting).

jen

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Posted: 09 April 2009 02:53 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Poor kitties get a bad rap… my last cat shed terribly, and his fur floated around in the air, but my current cat doesn’t shed nearly as much, and the fur falls straight to the floor - honestly, I think I shed more than she does wink.  anyway, I’m persnickety in the kitchen, so I give myself the once over with a sticky roller before I start a cooking project.

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Posted: 09 April 2009 04:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Patricia, I have a friend who used the sticky roller before starting and, Julie, I had considered the change of clothes as well. I have thought about banning my kitty for the summer just to see how things go. If they go well, then I could commit to commercial space and let the kitty back inside. I worry a bit about the expense of doubling all of my tools and equipment because I know I’ll want to use the same things at home without shuttling them back and forth. I also worry about whether I’ll be able to complete my work during the preschool hours for my younger children, if I was working at a commercial location. Obviously, if I were at home, I could do it anytime, but I don’t want to be out at night - I’m a bit nervous about that.

I just wish I could convince the Department of Health that they have misinterpreted the law by including cats in their definition. I absolutely do NOT want to risk getting cat fur in my baked goods, of course, but by putting procedures in place, I think I could avoid that. And, honestly, the majority of the places in which we dine and buy food are probably MUCH, much, much less cleanly than my kitchen with a cat!! That’s the most frustrating thing. I watched at a restaurant the other day as probably five sweaty men were slinging food around crammed into a five foot square space with the heat lamp blaring…you get the picture. But, I guess I have to play by the rules… Phew - done with my rant…

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