Let us sell cake, bakers demand of N.J. lawmakers

Home bakers rally outside New Jersey Statehouse Annex in Trenton Thursday. (Phil Gregory/WHYY)

Home bakers rally outside New Jersey Statehouse Annex in Trenton Thursday. (Phil Gregory/WHYY)

New Jersey and Wisconsin are the only states that ban the sale of home-baked cookies, cakes, and pies.

Hoping to change that situation, some home bakers rallied at the Statehouse in Trenton Thursday, urging lawmakers to approve to overturn the prohibition.

North Brunswick resident Robin Hart, who makes baked goods for parties, said she can’t understand why she’s barred from charging for them.

“It’s perfectly legal to bake something out of my house and give it to somebody. And it’s perfectly legal to bake something out of my house and sell it for charity,” she said. “But it’s not legal to bake it out of my house and sell it for profit.

“But it’s the same kitchen, it’s the same ingredients, it’s the same person doing the baking. There’s no reason that it shouldn’t be legal.”

Franklin Township resident Heather Russinko said being able to sell the cakes she makes in her kitchen would help her family.

“I am a single mom. I’m living paycheck to paycheck, sometimes even a paycheck behind,” she said. “I realize through baking I could supplement my income and make things easier for me.”

Proposed legislation would allow the home bakers to sell up to $50,000 a year of their products that do not require refrigeration.

Senate Health Committee Chairman Joe Vitale said he is blocking a vote the measure because of public health concerns about inspection and oversight.

“There is real lack of inspection, oversight, so the public can be assured at least that they’ve been inspected, that they meet certain standards, that there aren’t cats or sick children or mold spores flying around the air,” said Vitale, D-Middlesex.

Senator Kip Bateman, the sponsor of the bill to end the ban, said Vitale’s objections are half-baked.

“We have safeguards in the legislation which will allow for inspection,” said Bateman, R-Somerset. “They have to have certain standards.”

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