"This is why people more often get sick by eating out than by eating at home. Even if the risk from home-cooked food were as high as or higher than that from restaurant-cooked food, the danger would have to be extraordinarily great to justify a ban.
Instead, home kitchens where food is prepared for sale should be held to separate standards that make sense for the enterprise. Many states already have cottage food laws that allow people to prepare and sell baked goods from home. In those states, the permits could simply be extended to allow the sale of cooked meals over the Internet"
First, a large majority of foodborne illness cases do occur in the home. While reported cases of illness do not show this, we recognize that reported cases are more likely to be cases related to outbreaks where 2 or more people become ill from eating the same food. However, the vast majority of cases go unreported with many of these being sporadic cases where one person becomes ill, and it is probable that a good majority of these sporadic cases occur from home practice.
Studies have shown that the many consumers don't have the best practices, including 1) are prone to have cross contamination issues in their kitchen, 2) don't have their refrigerators set at the right temperature, and 3) don't use a thermometer. What about those live-in 'intruders' making their way into the kitchen space...dogs, cats, and kids. There have been many instances where food made in the home and then served outside the home have been disastrous. Just last week, BBQ prepared in a home kitchen was responsible for 32 cases of Staph enterotoxin cases.
Unlike Uber where you get to inspect the car and the driver when it shows up, (and can jump out when things are not going right), you would not have the opportunity to inspect a person's kitchen, or their food handling and preparation skills. Once you bit into the food, you are not necessarily going to be aware if the food was subject to cross contamination, if it hit the proper end point cooking temperature, or if it was properly stored from time it was prepared to the time it shows up at your door.
Can a concept like this work...sure, but within the laws. It happened for trucks, maybe homes are next. I can actually see a company that contracts home cooks to prepare meals. They would work to make sure the people are properly trained (and have credentials to show) and that the kitchens receive the proper governmental inspections. The company can help people get the right equipment, develop and implement proper procedures, and provide additional ongoing support and inspection. The company would establish the internet ordering system (along with pictures of the people preparing the food and the kitchen space in which the food would be prepared). The company would then collect a percentage of the fees paid for the food.
One problem is the economics. Kitchensurfing and Ktichit, similar concepts except the chef comes to your house, both failed. The advantage in these cases is that the cooking space was the customer's own kitchen. Disadvantage, the need for chef's who were willing to perform their task for an audience, whereas in the concept above, the consumer would be more willing to accept a home cook. The next and biggest issue is the obtaining the commercial license for making prepared TCS foods for others. The company would have to work with the local jurisdiction to determine how this could be achieved within the current regulatory restrictions. No doubt there would be some costs that go into adapting a kitchen...but again, if it can be done in a truck, why not a kitchen...provided the kitchen meets required standards.
NY Post - Opinion
Regulations make it too hard to sell home-cooked food
By Jacob Gersen
February 21, 2017 | 5:01am
As food delivery becomes ever more popular in the United States, some innovators have been looking to do for meals what Uber and Lyft have done for rides. Good cooks, or even professional chefs working at home, can produce tasty food for people nearby, income for themselves and tax revenue for cities and states.
Or they could — if it were legal to sell home-cooked food. In most states, it’s not.
The problem is that licenses for commercial-food preparation are granted only for kitchens that meet restaurant-safety standards. They must have, for example, certain kinds of ventilation, methods of sterilization, sinks, drainage, fire suppression and even lighting that most home kitchens lack. In some states, it’s simply illegal to sell most food that’s been prepared at home, no matter what technology is in the kitchen.
The risk of foodborne illness is real, and standards are needed to ensure that all food on the market is safe. But the risk of spreading disease germs increases with the volume of food prepared — and the number of opportunities for mishandling.
This is why people more often get sick by eating out than by eating at home. Even if the risk from home-cooked food were as high as or higher than that from restaurant-cooked food, the danger would have to be extraordinarily great to justify a ban.
Instead, home kitchens where food is prepared for sale should be held to separate standards that make sense for the enterprise. Many states already have cottage food laws that allow people to prepare and sell baked goods from home. In those states, the permits could simply be extended to allow the sale of cooked meals over the Internet.
Some home-cooking startups have tried to get around the present ban by using shared cooking spaces that meet restaurant-grade safety standards. But food prepared in such kitchens may run afoul of other legal requirements.
Consider, for example, the licenses an ice-cream maker would need in order to do business in New York state. First, there is the one from the Department of Public Health for manufacturing frozen desserts in a permitted shared kitchen. This allows its holder to legally sell ice cream directly to consumers.
But if the entrepreneur wanted to sell to restaurants or shops, he or she would need an additional license, from the Department of Agriculture Markets’ Division of Milk Control and Dairy Services. Alas, no such license would be forthcoming, because that agency doesn’t allow wholesale manufacturing from a shared kitchen space.
In other words, the same producer making the same ice cream in the same facility in the same state could sell the product legally in one instance but not the other. The conflicting permissions do nothing to enhance food safety.
These and similar laws were established for the traditional hub-and-spoke food-distribution system. But innovators want to move toward a less centralized, more flexible market. Safety laws designed for old ways of making food for sale can’t accommodate the way we want to eat now.
Startups such as Dinner Lab, Kitchit and Kitchensurfing have recently closed their doors. Other innovators have shifted their mission from selling home-cooked meals to providing cooking space for cooks and small companies.
This is unfortunate, not just because good ideas go wasted, but also because the disruptive food industry has the potential to keep us healthier. If lower volume means less risk, and if home cooks might be less likely than restaurant workers to cook when they are ill, then the food they make will be safer.
To determine what safety requirements are most appropriate for home kitchens, states need to build on our existing knowledge about food safety — including data gathered by the Food and Drug Administration, the US Department of Agriculture and the Centers for Disease Control — to put together a clear picture of the risks involved.
Then food-safety inspection and enforcement divisions should be able to tailor home-kitchen standards that keep consumers safe and allow innovators into the market.
Jacob Gersen is a Harvard Law School professor. (c) 2017, Bloomberg View