What certifications, insurance, and licenses do you need to launch your own home bakery business? While it might feel overwhelming at the beginning, there’s no need for concern. We’re covering what you need to know in order to stay calm and take the right steps to open a well-insured and fully licensed home bakery business. That way, you can focus on sharing your delectable treats with the world!

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The Legalities of Opening a Home Bakery

If you’re excited to sell your famous apple pies from your home kitchen, there’s one very important step to take before you even turn on the oven. Depending on where you live, it may or may not be legal to sell food made in a home kitchen.

The best place to start your research is with your state’s Department of Health. In many cases, states allow cottage foods, or edible items that are considered low-risk, to be made and sold out of home kitchens. Examples of cottage foods include baked goods, canned foods, and other preserves. These foods are referred to as non-potentially hazardous foods (non-PHF), as opposed to fresher and more temperature-sensitive items, which are labeled PHF, or potentially hazardous foods.

Note that states often have caps on the size that a cottage industry can grow to. If you’re just starting out, this is something to keep in mind as you grow, but shouldn’t stop you from launching your business.

How Zoning Can Affect Your Home Bakery Businesses

Once you have assessed whether the products you’re selling are covered under your state’s cottage industry laws, the next step is a look closer to home. Every locality has its own zoning laws. These laws determine whether or not a home bakery business, or any commercial operation, is legal in specific residential areas. The purpose of zoning laws is to limit traffic and other disruptions associated with commercial businesses in certain parts of town. 

Another reason to pay attention to zoning in your area is that it can be a good indication of where you’ll find foot traffic. If you’re considering opening your business outside of the home or moving when you’ve outgrown your home kitchen, a commercial district can provide the visibility and customer interaction that you might not have access to in a more residential part of town.

Licenses for Home Bakeries

In order to qualify for the proper licenses to produce and sell food from your home, your local government may require certain changes to your kitchen or home. For example, some states require several sinks, commercial fire control systems, and large-scale ventilation equipment to qualify for home bakery licensure.

Often, your home will need a visit from a health inspector to acquire the proper licenses. If this is the case, expect a careful inspection of every inch of your production process. From cold food storage to cooking equipment to dry storage and cleaning practices, the health inspector will ensure that every step your baked goods take is safe for consumers.

Health Inspections for Home Bakery Businesses

To prepare for a health inspector visit, make sure your space is as clean and well-equipped as possible. Spaces should be well-lit, ventilated, and, importantly, at the proper temperature. Brush up on your state’s health code so you can quickly and accurately answer any questions the inspector might have.

Insurance for a Home Bakery Business

It’s very important to properly insure your business. The larger you grow, the greater the risk is that something can go wrong. And while you’re doing everything you can to ensure customer satisfaction and safety, certain things are not always in your control. If there’s an injury, property damage, or an accidental food safety issue, it’s vital to have a strong liability insurance policy to protect you and your business from legal trouble.

At the most basic, invest in a general liability insurance policy. This will protect you from claims of personal injury or damage from customers, employees and other outside parties. In addition, a professional liability insurance policy protects you from claims of negligence or mistakes that may cause harm to others.

There are dozens of well-vetted insurance agencies that work with small and large businesses like yours. Ask around for a reference form a fellow baker or do your own research online. Insurance doesn’t have to be overwhelming, confusing, or off-putting. And while you’ll hopefully never need to use it, you’ll certainly be glad to have a strong policy, should the need arise.

As a new bakery owner, these are the important steps and questions about licensure and insurance to address before you share your delicious baked goods with the world. With a bit of planning, you can safely launch a successful home bakery business that’s properly protected, insured, and licensed.

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