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May 2, 2013

Bakers delight in passage of recent state legislature

DUNCAN — For those who have dreamt of creating baked works of art right out of their kitchen without sticking to the required rigorous kitchen standards, a state law passed last month is helping make those dreams a reality.

Known as the Home Bakery Act of 2013, House Bill 1094 by state Rep. Dustin Roberts exempts home bakeries from food preparation licensing requirements in the state. These home bakeries must not make more than $20,000 a year nor produce baked goods for sale that contain meat or fresh fruit.

The bill was voted in approval by the Oklahoma House of Representatives Public Health Committee in February. It was signed into law by Gov. Mary Fallin last month and will go into effect Nov. 1, 2013.

“A friend told me about (the bill being passed) to let me know and I love it,” said Paula Huckabaa, a Duncan resident known well for her mocha cupcakes. “It takes a lot of worry off because I will be able to sell from home and be secure under the law.”

For Huckabaa, baking has been a hobby for some time and though she said she has a good full-time job, the option to become a full time baker is there now. Even just for extra income, the opportunity to use her skills to profit from home is something she looks forward to.

“I usually don’t sell things but if I choose to, I could make a profit from home and use that extra money to build a professional kitchen,” she said. “I would be excited to pursue it.”

Several home bakers around the state feel much the same way, as it was a petition from people such as Huckabaa that brought the issue to Roberts’ attention. Currently, home bakeries must follow the same rigorous standards as food establishments that serve foods that might be highly harmful to the public, including having a commercial refrigerator and a three bin sink.

“These businesses are allowed in many states and I think Oklahoma needs to allow them to remain competitive. Small businesses are the backbone of our economy and I try to do what I can to support them,” said Roberts when working to get the bill passed.

“These home bakeries would be limited in what they could prepare without a license and required to mark their goods as home bakery products, but would basically allow them to operate outside of the regulatory system that larger operations have to go through.”

Huckabaa said she’s excited to see the law pass, not only for herself but for others that share her passion of baking.

“So many talented people who make wonderful, beautiful cakes can showcase their talent without fear of being fined by the health department,” she said. “They can get their name out there.”

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