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‘Cookie’ Bill Would Relax Rules For Selling Home-Baked Goods

Backers Say Measure Would Encourage Small Businesses

cookie on cooling rack
Larry (CC-BY-NC-ND)  

Wisconsin lawmakers have reintroduced legislation that would allow bakers to sell products made in their home kitchens.

The so-called “cookie bill” exempts bakers from certain regulations if they sell less than $7,500 in goods annually. They wouldn’t need a food processing plant license and could bake outside of a commercial kitchen.

For goods like homemade cupcakes sold at a farmers market, say the bill’s supporters, the packaging would have to include the name and address of the person who baked the cupcake, the date it was baked and a list of ingredients.

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Rep. Mike Rohrkaste, the bill’s sponsor, said the rule changes could help people start new businesses or supplement their income.

“This gives somebody the opportunity to start small. And if they can develop a product they feel is going to be well-received by consumers, then they’ll have to invest in that, but at least they can try without investing a lot of money,” Rohrkaste said. “To set up a commercial kitchen is a pretty large expense. Renting kitchen facilities is possible, but it’s complicated. It takes time, and time is extremely valuable.”

Some lawmakers lawmakers have expressed concerns about how the measure would impact existing retailers. So far, the bill has support from the Wisconsin Farmers Union, but is opposed by the Wisconsin Grocers Association.

Rohrkaste said health and safety protections are included in the bill. Bakers would have to register with the state, have a plan in place if there’s a food recall and must complete a food safety class.

“People do bake sales all the time. I’ve never heard of anyone getting sick or ill from a bake sale,” Rohrkaste said.

An Assembly committee was scheduled to hold a hearing on the cookie bill Wednesday