D.C. bill would allow small bakers to operate without a license

Aspiring D.C. chefs who want to start a home-based baked goods or other food business would be allowed to do so without a license from the health department under proposed legislation offered by the District’s Ward 3 Councilmember Mary M. Cheh.

The bill, titled the “Cottage Food Act of 2013”, would apply to businesses producing or packaging food in a residential kitchen, with an annual revenue of $25,000 or less.

The act is an amendment to the Department of Health Functions Clarification Act of 2001, and would authorize the Department of Health to define which products cottage food producers can sell, how the food can be stored, and inspection requirements.

According to the act, cottage food businesses would have to store the food on the premises, and clearly label it with the business’s name and address and the food’s ingredients, net weight, and a disclaimer noting it was “made by a cottage food business that is not subject to the District of Columbia’s food safety regulations,” according to the bill.

As it was just introduced, the bill is at the beginning of the legislative process, according to the councilmember’s office. To pass, it would require mayoral approval, a 30-day congressional review, and publication in the D.C. Register.

Mohana Ravindranath covers IT and small business for the Washington Post and its weekly Capital Business publication.
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