Bakers Sue State Because Selling Cake is Illegal and Will Get You Thrown in Jail—Seriously

By Rachel Blevins

Bakers in New Jersey are fed up with the possibility of a $1,000 fine for selling a single cake, and they are coming together to sue the only state that makes it illegal for individuals to sell home-baked goods. Fines, as TFTP has frequently reported are enforced through the threat of police action. If these bakers choose not to pay the fines—they could end up in jail—for baking a cake.

The ban on the sale of baked goods that were not made in a commercial kitchen was also present in Wisconsin, where bakers could face up to six months jail for selling a single cookie, up until May 2017 when a state court declared it unconstitutional on the basis that the law had “no real or substantial connection” to consumer protection.

After securing a legal victory in Wisconsin, the Institute for Justice is now working with three bakers in New Jersey and hoping for a similar outcome. IJ intends to prove that the ban is purely political as bills to end it have passed the Assembly three times unanimously, and the only person who has repeatedly refused to allow a vote in the state senate, Sen. Joseph Vitale, has claimed that he wants to protect commercial bakers from competition—which is unconstitutional.

While it is illegal to sell baked goods, allegedly because of the safety concerns that come from bakers using their own kitchen instead of a commercial kitchen, New Jersey does make an exception for baked goods that are “prepared for sale or service at a function such as a religious or charitable organization’s bake sale.”

Therefore, either New Jersey does not care about the health of the people who are consuming the baked goods sold by charities, or the initial ban is purely political to protect commercial bakers from competition. As the Institute for Justice noted:

The state cannot justify the license and commercial kitchen requirement with safety concerns. These requirements apply even when a baker only wants to sell goods that the state deems ‘not potentially hazardous.’ Not potentially hazardous baked goods are those that are shelf-stable, do not require refrigeration and are very safe to eat. They include most cookies, breads and muffins commonly made in home kitchens. As a Wisconsin court recently concluded, there is no report of anyone, anywhere, ever getting sick from an improperly baked good.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Heather Russinko, Martha Rabello and Liz Cibotariu. They are all mothers and home bakers, and together they founded the NJ Home Bakers Association.

Russinko is a single mother who lives paycheck to paycheck. She started baking 10 years ago as a way to heal from an abusive marriage. But when baking for her son’s school fundraisers turned into fulfilling orders from friends and family, she found out that she was doing something that had been deemed “illegal” by the state.

“It was crushing because I always wanted to have my own business. I believe in creating your own destiny and being self-sufficient,” Russinko told CBS News.

In order to make her dream come true of having her own business featuring her famous cake pops, Russinko would have to start by renting space at a commercial community kitchen. As the Institute for Justice reported, renting out space in a kitchen can cost around $35 an hour, in addition to licensing fees, storage fees other expenses such as child care for mothers who would otherwise be baking at home.

The current legal fight on behalf of these home bakers is nothing new. Erica Smith, an attorney for the NJ Home Bakers Association, told CBS News that they have been lobbying the state legislature for nearly a decade to change the current law.

“The bakers here, they didn’t just jump and file a lawsuit, they have been fighting for 10 years to get this law passed in the legislature,” Smith said.

Rachel Blevins is a Texas-based journalist who aspires to break the left/right paradigm in media and politics by pursuing truth and questioning existing narratives. Follow Rachel on FacebookTwitter and YouTube. This article first appeared at The Free Thought Project.


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8 Comments on "Bakers Sue State Because Selling Cake is Illegal and Will Get You Thrown in Jail—Seriously"

  1. Child rape is o.k.in the ussa, but don’t sell a cookie, feed the homeless, sell Gibson guitars with the wrong wood, plant a veggie garden in your front yard, open a lemonade stand, collect rainwater on your own proper.. uh, oh. Pardon me, off to a GMO contaminated lunch and to get my annual flu shot…

  2. I’m still hopeful that Jack the Bakers vs the undead (aclu) will end with the decision on his side.

  3. Crushing competition is absolutely what it is about not safety . Remember Martha Stewart got her start selling her pies in the mall & catering her rich friend’s parties. All done initially from her own kitchen.

  4. In New Jersey, you can get a license to prepare food for sale in hour home kitchen for $75. That is 20 cents a day to legally bake and sell your food. This is hardly a cost that would be prohibitive and serve the interests of commercial kitchens. This fee, plus the inspection, will protect you from the risk of serving tainted food and being sued for many thousands.

    I think we have bigger issues to be concerned with such as the 30 billion a year in handouts to Big Pharma for prohibiting Medicare from negotiating drug prices, or the half a trillion already spent on the not-yet-ready-for-combat F-35 fighter jet, which will cost over another trillion to complete and which, according to experience pilots “cannot fly, cannot climb” and is inferior to Russian and Chinese jets but which is making Boeing rich.

    (“”However, the F-35 development process has also been rife with delays and cost overruns, wasting billions of taxpayer dollars,” said Duckworth, a member of the House Armed Services Committee who has worked to bring more oversight to the F-35 acquisition process.
    In 2014, the entire fleet of F-35s was grounded following an engine fire during testing, and the program has experienced persistent software problems that have slowed mission testing and resulted in schedule delays.
    There were also setbacks at key milestones, including the start of the flight test program, delivery of the first production-ready aircraft and testing of critical missions systems, according to the Government Accountability Office.
    In April, the GAO documented risks to the F-35’s Autonomic Logistics Information System, which Department of Defense officials have described as the “brains” of the fifth-generation fighter. The report warned that a failure “could take the entire fleet offline,” in part, due to the lack of a backup system.
    And a cloud of skepticism still hangs over the program, even with Tuesday’s announcement.
    “This is nothing but a public relations stunt,” said Dan Grazier, a fellow of the Project On Government Oversight, a government watchdog group.
    “The Air Force said their first F-35s would be combat ready in August 2016, so they are going to say they are today,” he said. “If they didn’t make this declaration now, the Air Force and the JSF program would be embarrassed at the very least and cause serious questions about future funding.”
    To maintain and operate the Joint Strike Fighter program over the course of its lifetime, the Pentagon will invest nearly $1 trillion, according to the GAO.”

    I think the wasted $1.5 trillion on a plane that is based on a flawed 1980’s design and has never been used merits more attention than the fact that to sell baked cakes and cookies out of your home kitchen requires that you pay a $75 fee.

    This absurd whining about a small fee is designed both to divert attention from larger issues and to make the case that the government safety rules are invalid. Both are propaganda lies.

    • Sounds to me like enterprising individuals trying to operate in a way they enjoy and that benefits others under the crushing weight of increasing government and police state oppression….

  5. I believe that most states try to make homemade goods against the law. In Ariz. they force you to get a license, and outlaw a number of items from being cooked at home.

  6. Does anyone have the statistics on “deaths from home baked goods”? My guess is licensed shops cause more illness and deaths than home baked ones.

  7. Garry Compton | January 9, 2018 at 9:00 am | Reply

    We have motivated youth and skilled individuals. We have good producers, good entrepreneurs, good laborers, good farmers, good teachers and good professors. Tasks should be improved by such individuals. It is these individuals who should eliminate the problems of the country. It is also they who should solve economic problems and various other problems related to business. This is a quote from one of Iran’s Leaders in respect on the economy and essentially is 100% correct. This would never have the opportunity to work in the US because of the various reasons in this article – permits, licenses, insurance, red tape from the USG, State and Munis, corporate monopolies, police state and many other obstacles. This would work in a country that has a Free Market system and a government that would stay out of the Way.

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