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Oregon Preps for New Wave of Home-Baking Entrepreneurs

The rule making process is under way for Oregon's home baking law, which goes into effect Jan. 1. Credit: krosseel/
The rule making process is under way for Oregon's home baking law, which goes into effect Jan. 1. Credit: krosseel/
November 6, 2015

SALEM, Ore. – Oregon's home-baking law goes into effect in less than two months – although it will take several more months for the state Department of Agriculture to finalize all the rules.

In the meantime, there's plenty for baking entrepreneurs to do to get ready. In addition to perfecting their best recipes, home bakers need to build a customer base, and ask their county health department about food safety training.

Lauren Gwin, associate director of the Center for Small Farms and Community Food Systems at Oregon State University, says the law allows baked goods to be sold from home because they don't have the same health risks as other types of fresh foods.

"It's really all about the people who are baking these goods following standard best practices around health and hygiene,” she states. “And those things can be accomplished through the food handlers' card requirement that was put into the bill."

Gwin says the home baking law is part of a growing trend in so-called cottage food laws that help boost and diversify the rural economy, by allowing farmers and small producers a way to test-market new or small-batch products and make a little extra money.

Approved last year, the legislation was crafted specifically for small, home based businesses with no plans to become the Internet's next gourmet food sensation.

Oregon Food Bank supported the bill for its potential to increase local access to healthier, non-processed foods in rural parts of the state.

Anneliese Koehler, public policy advocate for Oregon Food Bank, describes a few of the basic requirements.

"There is a sales limit of $20,000,” she explains. “You will have to sell directly to your customers. You no longer have to have a domestic kitchen license. And you will need to get a food handler's card."

The Oregon Department of Agriculture says a draft of the home baking rules should be ready by the end of this year, but won't be finalized until next year. The state will have a public hearing on the proposed rules in the spring.

Chris Thomas, Public News Service - OR