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Jam on: California Homemade Food Act goes into effect in January

December 10, 2012|By Betty Hallock
  • Mark Stambler, at home with his bread, helped gain passage of the California Homemade Food Act.
Mark Stambler, at home with his bread, helped gain passage of the California… (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles…)

As of Jan. 1, the California Homemade Food Act will go into effect, allowing people in Los Angeles to sell certain foods and baked goods they've made at home to stores, restaurants and directly to customers.

Among those people are Echo Park bread-baker-turned-activist Mark Stambler, who co-wrote the bill AB 1616, along with Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Silver Lake), that Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law in September. Stambler's business of selling bread to local businesses was shut down in 2011 by the Los Angeles County Health Department after a story about his bread was published in the Los Angeles Times. 

"Hopefully I'll be selling bread in the same shops I’d been banned from selling to a year and a half ago," says Stambler, who has a wood-fired bread oven in his backyard. "I've been spending most of my time making sure this legislation goes through. But I’ve continued to bake, giving it to family and friends. I want to continue to sell it, I just love baking bread."

Now the L.A. County Health Department is preparing to implement the law that allows aspiring food entrepreneurs to sell products such as breads, cookies, cakes, pies, jams, candy, granola, baking mixes, coffee, tea, honey, dried fruit and nuts, and other goods that don't include cream or meat -- without investing in a commercial kitchen or jumping through zoning compliance and other regulatory hoops.

The legislation still requires home producers to complete a food processor course, label products and, depending on where they're selling, undergo inspections and registrations with the health department.

Supporters say the new law will create a lucrative cottage food industry and help give residents of California an alternative source of income. California joins at least 30 states that have laws that allow the sales of homemade goods.

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