Getting Fed Up with ILLEGAL home bakers

Discussion in 'Pastries & Baking' started by panini, Apr 10, 2011.

  1. panini

    panini

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    The illegal home bakers in my area have never had any respect from me but now that it has gotten to the point where it is actually affecting my revenue.

    This year especially has annoyed me. Just this week we had two brides forfit their downpayment to go with home bakers. Both are using our flavors and designs and time. One joker actually told our customer that they would be able to do it cheaper because they didn't have to pay for all that advertising. Haven't paid for advert ever! 20 yrs.

      After some research we found that almost 50% of the local websites for wedding cakes and catering don't have kitchens. Some of these criminals are even set up at local bridal shows. Something I've never done. Along with some other bakeries we are taking measures to identify these( I don't want to use the word criminal BUT it is totally against the law to prepare food in our state for the public to consume).

    There is a bill right now in the state legislation to allow a cottage baking permit to the home. I don't have a problem with that if it passes. Their claim is that they don't use hazordus ingredients. Eggs? hello! If passed they will have to make their home pass inspection and have sanitation education. I pay 400 dollars a year to have mine inspected.

      This has gotten so out of hand. Most all office catering has gone under the radar. I can't imagine the amount of revenue being taken out of the industry. There can't be any tax paid on this if it's illegal income. They can't possably have liability or any insurance. Almost all the power behind the bill is from those already doing it illegal. I just can't justify giving them amnisty.

      THE FACT IS THERE ARE ONLY SIXTEEN STATES THAT ALLOW ANY FOOD ITEMS PREPARED OUT OF A HOME INSPECTED KITCHEN TO FEED THE PUBLIC. There is a very good reason for this. This also includes giving food away-no charge wink wink or for friends.

       This is another reason why the current wedding cake book up for review exist. I'm absolutLY sure the author only targeted those sixteen states!!!! And I'm sure there is a chapter on sanitation.

    I PERSONALLY THINK THESE ARE SOME OF THE REASONS WHY THE SMALL BUSINESS ASPECT OF THIS INDUSTRY IS CRUMBLING FAST.

    WE HAVE NO FINANCIAL  OR GOVERNMENT RESPECT AS IT IS.

    It is very hard for me to offer anything positive to those wanting to start a small buainess the right way.

    The end result is that the customer suffers and a mediocre product becomes the norm.

    This is just a rant but I hope sends a message to those that need one.

    Panini

    I would really like to see some sort of requirement to post a bio and location to participate at ChefTalk true or not.

    but I also understand why they don't.
     
  2. granny smith

    granny smith

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    Why do you think home bakers are thriving?
     
  3. kokopuffs

    kokopuffs

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    Imho they'll thrive until a deadly salmonella outbreak is traced back to an uninspected kitchen.
     
  4. panini

    panini

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    Granny Smith,

    I did not hear anything about legal home bakers are thriving. But if you are talking about illegal home bakers it's easy.

    If they can undercut legal businesses and have no overhead, NO TAXES,and no required monies to meet Fed-state and local laws,technology to meet government requirements, insurances, etc. They would have to be complete idiots not to be thriving.

    Granny, I'm sorry to sound rude but if someone you know that is selling to the public, they are breaking the laws in your state.

    It's no different than other crimes, they are criminals. The worst part of this is that these people have no clue how they open up themselves to losing every their family owns and might be garnished financially for the rest of their lives.

    I guess I'll take this time to answer a few sizzling emails.

    1.I am not against home baking! I actually think it is needed in bigger states outside city limits. Logistics require us to stay within our limits and venues. There is a need for home bakers in the more rural areas.

       2. I make no monies on a deposit that is forfitted. We have only charged a 100. dollar deposit for the last 12 years to hold your date. This does not even cover the hour design and tasting we provide. Technically the contract is signed with the deposit. I absolutely don't have any animosity towards those that decide to go elsewhere. I would never hold them to their contract.  We invite them to go where they are comfortable.I will and have returned deposits when asked. My problem is I now have 2 empty spots for the date that translates into thousands lost. I have five families to support.

       3.Oklahoma baker. Your words speak volumes about your personality. I hate to tell you this but it is illegal to play business in your state. Getting away with it does not nake it ok. nuff said

    Panini
     
  5. pastrycake

    pastrycake

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    oh panini, I am in dallas as well. I don't sell anything but only bake for fun.  I often participate in bake sales.  I hope to open a cupcake shop or bakery someday but what is the point if anyone can sell from home kitchen.  Home kitchen mean less overhead costs which will make it more attractive to clients.  In that case, I will open my shop when I am ready to "live to bake" and not worry about making a profit.  But I don't know if that day will ever come.  I hope the law will be more favorable for the legit baking business.
     
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2011
  6. granny smith

    granny smith

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    Panini, for the record, I agree with you, but I understand why some people are using these illegal home bakers, too. I live in an area with extremely high unemployment (in excess of 20%). For special occasions, when a person isn't great at baking or decorating, many here are turning to these illegal bakers. From my observations, their work is often sub-par, but it's all about the money.

    Also for the record, I am a retired baker, caterer, cook, and restaurant manager.
     
  7. panini

    panini

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    Granny,

       For the record, I'm not posting to bash. I wouldn't do it here. I've been lurking around CT for 10 years. Just trying to bring an awareness to what I think is a growing problem affecting small business in food. There are a lot of people here wanting to follow their dream to ownership..

    It may look like it's all about the money but I think it's more about etiquette and professionalism. The economy and unemployment affects everyone especially small business.

    There are plenty of ways to be creative and earn extra income without breaking the law. If I was a small dairy farmer I wouldn't park in front of the grocery store and hail shoppers exiting, pssst hey, go put that milk back, I'll sell you one of my gallons for half that price. I know..a ridiculous referenceLOL it's late.It's wrong and dangerous.

       There are many bakers in our area. You might know some from Food Network, Bronwen Weber, Lauren from Fancy Cakes. We would never attempt to take somebodys client.

    We all have our niches and we actually refer to them for certain types of cakes. Exchange Holiday Greetings.

    Trust me, things could be better. Fact is, our pricing is 10% lower then Grocery stores.

    I just don't see how these people can justify breaking the law, stealing from small business, government, employees and show up at Church on Sunday. These are the same

    hippocrate yahoos that complain they are on unemployment because the bread winners job has been outsourced to someone who will do it cheaper.

    But what do I know? Things are going in the crapper and I'm working on building a new production kitchen.

    Granny, always read your posts.

    Pastrycakes, you hang in there. Where there is a will there is a way. I'll return your PM. I like the donut idea.

    Panini
     
  8. chefross

    chefross

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    Unfortunately the same thing exists with home caterers. People who cook food and sell to parties and such from their home kitchens.

    All it would take would be for one person to get sick and sue. The law would take everything that person owned and they would be in bad shape forever.

    People just don't get it. All they think about is the money.
     
  9. granny smith

    granny smith

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    Panini, I think I didn't make myself clear. I didn't mean it was all about the money for legal bakers, but for the illegal ones. They sell for cash, but don't claim it on their taxes. So, in essence, they're making at least 25% more than if they'd done it legally.

    Believe it or not, there are people near me who sell milk straight from the cow and they have people clamoring for it. They also sell homemade butter and buttermilk. I've bought it a few times, but was not satisfied with the quality and had serious questions about the seller's cleanliness. In case you didn't guess, selling uninspected dairy products is also illegal - and for good reason. 
     
  10. jims

    jims

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    I'm one of those folks who buys raw milk. The legal workaround for the dairy farmer is to sell "shares" of the cow. Kind of like a bovine timeshare. Every industry seems to have it's share of people who try to work under the table, whether legal or illegal. I owned a retail store for nearly two decades. It seemed like people would pop up selling out of their garage almost weekly. Once the internet took off, things got even worse.  Eventually, the suppliers had to crack down on who they would do business with in order to protect their real customers and the industry as a whole. It's unfortunate that bakers can get everything they need at the local warehouse store.
     
  11. granny smith

    granny smith

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    Here, they sell it as 'pet food' (wink, wink) I don't know anyone who gives it to their pets.
     
  12. panini

    panini

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    LOL

    Where do you guys live?

    I guess you can tell I'm a city boy. Dallas is as country as I get.

    Reading up on our Baking Bill.

    No requirements for the kitchen. No grease traps, FRP,Sinks,ventilation, no Food Service Manager Cert. just food handlers permit like the guys hawking dogs at the park,nothing etc.

    The Health Department is allowed to visit to make sure they are not doing more then 250,000.00 annually.

    At this point I hope it passes. I'll tie my Beagles in front of the store and tell the HealthD to scram, this is where I live.;>D

    pan
     
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  13. kuan

    kuan Moderator Staff Member

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    Well heck.  I'd be getting rid of the sanitizer, tossing grease down the drain, smoking in the kitchen, etc.
     
  14. panini

    panini

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    Well even if I did it doesn't bother me as much as chicken/meat up high,  Medicine, Left overs, flowers, the gross list goes on in the family fridge. Don't think it's not going to happen.

    It's a fact that most all  Food Borne Illness occures in the home. People rarely get sick from eating out of a liscenced and inspected kitchen. I'm still trying to figure out how eggs

    aren't a potentially dangerous food. I have had inspectors crack and check the temp of raw egg. There are more people then ever with surpressed immune systems.

    I'll stop my rant LOL

    pan

    oh wait, there's little Tommy with his hands in his poopy diaper headed to the fridge to get his sippy bottle.

    I don't lump everybody together. I know there are plenty of people practicing proper sanitation at home and they know it's work

    and it isn't always common sense.
     
  15. granny smith

    granny smith

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    I'm a little more than 50 miles from Lexington, KY, 30 miles from a small city, and 10 miles from a small town. I guess you could say I live in the boonies. The only neighbors I can see from my house or yard are cows (Herefords, specifically).

    Sanitation is one reason I won't sell food from home, even though I've been asked to many times. I know how to set up a proper kitchen that would pass inspection, but I don't have control over everybody else that lives here and can't guarantee that they wouldn't do something gross (with 5 teenagers, I can almost assure you that they would)

    For the classes I've been considering teaching, I would have access to a commercial kitchen that is inspected regularly. IMO, it's the only way.
     
  16. sherrycakes

    sherrycakes

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    I'm honestly shocked by how laid back Ohio's cottage industry laws are. I'm originally from Indiana, and had a catering company that I ran out of my best friend/catering partner's kitchen. I'd never even heard of cottage laws before I came here and am in the process of getting a home bakery license. I joined a local cake club and at the first meeting I attended, I could tell they were offended I was going the extra step to getting an inspection and home license. Or maybe it's because I jokingly said I was going to name my business "Barely Legal". Just think of the website traffic!/img/vbsmilies/smilies/smile.gif
     
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2011
  17. leeniek

    leeniek

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    Here in Hamilton at least it is against health department regulations to comercially sell any food that is made in a home kitchen.  The only way it is allowed is if the home has two kitchens... one for the family use and one that is for the strict use of the business and is inspected regularly by the health department.  That just said, I have heard of people catering office lunches from their homes and making good money for it, but one guy I know of who was doing that had a visit at his front door from the health department.  It seems someone got sick after eating a lunch he had catered and they complained to the health department.  I don't know if he was fined or not but he did go out of business not too long after that.
     
  18. foodpump

    foodpump

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    Welll.....

    When I was catering (professionally, a comercial 3,000 sqft kitchen) it was a love/hate relationship with the home caterers.  Yes, they were stealing business from me, and the stupid ones would carpet-bomb my area with their flyers/promos.  I simply called the health dept on them.  They say that excrement attracts flies, and the home based caterers would attract the cheap-o customers, the whiners, and the "If I can save 10% from the catering budget, I'll get a promation" office mngrs.

    But, on the other hand, the home based caterers made me look good.  Once I got a customer back from a home based, I almost always recieved appreciation and repeat business "They actually served green burger patties, I swear, it was green", and,  "I had to pay a $400 fine from the hall because they left such a mess behind", or, "When I checked "X" rental's website, they padded my rental bill by almost $300.00". 

    I don't have a crystal ball, but I foresee things with home based bakeries...

    I see a food poisoning scare in the near future, I see lawsuites with perishable items being transported in hot, stuffy cars with matted pet hair.

    But I also see holy he77 from the fire dept and the municipal sewer/water boys, and frankly of the two, I don't want to see a city sewer worker knocking at my door with a videocamera "snake" and a crap-eating grin on his face.

    I forsee insurance companies balking and refusing (what else is new?) at home based caterers and bakers--illegal or not.

    And I forsee the tax man eying home based businesses with an evil gleam in his eye. 
     
  19. chefedb

    chefedb

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    Fight fire with fire   Have a sign made and posted in your store re. Potential of uninspected kitchens for a mass poisoning of guest. Stress the fact of they are uninsured and therefore can't pay medical bills. Stress the point that the guest could and will sue the host or hostess of the party. So just for the sake of saving a few bucks they risk harming their guest health or even worse. Ask thenm to ask the supplier to see their last health dept. inspection report. Would you want your food made in a place where dogs and cats are running around, or made by someone who has no idea of proper sanitation.   In other words scare or shame them /you may even want to put a flyer in all your to go orders. Put all the things you are saying on paper and get it out don't just complain about it. EJB
     
     
  20. sherrycakes

    sherrycakes

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    My husband used to work for the Health Dept and they didn't have the funds to go out and look for unreported home based businesses. However, if one was reported to them it would get inspected because they didn't want the possible liability of ignoring a request on a business that is potentially dangerous.