Compliance can seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t need to. Here are some helpful hints to working within the law for your benefit.

Practical Suggestions and Resources

Compliance can seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t need to be. Below are practical suggestions and resources to help you navigate your local regulations and understand your options for monetizing your food sharing passion.

Am I Compliant by Plates Standards?

Compliance laws exist in various levels.  Since even an entry level of compliance is easily achievable, you can now safely check “yes” on the chef application form. As your business grows, you may seek to attain more advanced levels of compliance

Learn the Requirements

Start by learning about the cottage food laws in your area. This step will help you determine what you are capable of achieving now, and what steps you need to take to achieve the business-model you want.  In the United States, Forrager Cottage Food Community and Foodpreneur Institute are both great resources for providing links to state laws, regulations and points of contact. In the United Kingdom, follow the guidelines set out on the government site, Food Standards Agency.

Innovate for Compliance

Compliance regulations typically fall into 3 categories: (i) the type of food, (ii) the preparation location and (iii) where/how to sell. Here are some innovative concepts to help you get started in a compliant manner:

  • Food types:Typically, food which doesn’t require refrigeration, is guided by the most lenient of regulations.  Examples include baked goods, jams, and fresh ingredients.
  • Preparation location:Many local laws require a dedicated and inspected preparation location. This might seem out of the question to achieve in your home kitchen, but there are several viable options to consider:
    • Commissary kitchens are shared kitchens you can rent which are already inspected and certified for food preparation. Many can also help you gain a food handler permit and other certifications. Try the search term “local commissary kitchen” to find options in your area (e.g.: Massachusetts shared spaces).
    • Community spaces are all around us and many have kitchens which are compliant and vacant. Talk to your local church, temple, or mosque. Also look into community club houses, fire houses and schools. As an added bonus, you’ll make great connections to your target market for purchasing your goods!
  • Where and How to Sell: Getting your food to the intended audience also has a great impact on compliance, but there are innovative ways to work within local laws.
    • Cooking classes are an excellent way to engage your customers and share your love of food while remaining compliant. Try your local town hall or county offices to help you understand the requirements for hosting a cooking class. Often, you may be in compliance if you host a class and share the fruits of your labor without the need to have your kitchen inspected and certified.
    • Cooking in others’ homes is another option to sharing food in a lawful manner. By promoting your services and arranging with diners to cook in their home, you can often avoid the need to have your kitchen inspected and certified; however, you should always check your local laws to fully understand regulations.

Get Covered

Insurance is always a good idea, and at Plates, we want all our Chef to be insured to protect them against potentiality diner liability.  There are many carriers providing insurance.   Please check out these options in the US:

For UK Chefs, most mainstream Insurers provide comprehensive and affordable food liability Insurance policies for home chefs, bakers and caterers.

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