United Bakers oppose Senate Bill 18

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Proposed legislation opens gaping hole in Louisiana’s Sanitary Code says trade organization

Louisiana Senate Bill 18 is not only unfair to anybody that has ever started a business and played by the rules, it is downright dangerous to the general public.

“In most bakeries, there is little reason to look up from the bakers’ bench and pay attention to proposed legislation,” says Rick Crawford, Certified Master Baker and Managing Partner of the RPIA Group, a bakery trade organization. “Most bakers are easy going and take things in stride, whether it is wheat prices or new sanitary codes, ‘it is what it is,’ they say, they abide by the laws and keep on baking.” A proposed law, however, has bakers and business owners across Louisiana and even across the nation in uproar, according to Crawford.

“This bill is not only unfair to anybody that has ever started a business and played by the rules, it is downright dangerous to the general public,” says Tobias Wilhelm, speaking on behalf of the United Bakers Advocacy group. “If you would eat and drink in the production area of a licensed kitchen, or have pets, or wash and rinse everything in the same sink, the health inspector would fine you in a heartbeat or even close you down. These are the very things that happen in people’s homes.”

“Many of our members have separate kitchens at their homes or bake out of rental kitchens, they are licensed businesses and under the supervision of the Department of Health and Hospitals. I’m not saying they’re happy about it, but Sanitary Codes ultimately bring up the level of product quality and lend the consumer a reasonable expectation of food safety,” explains Jennifer Atwood, president of United Bakers and General Manager of Atwood’s Bakery in Alexandria, Louisiana.

“I wasn’t happy when I found out I couldn’t just start a business out of my home,” says small business owner Kyle Downs Drerup, who owns ‘Ladies Pies’ with her mother and bakes her popular treats out of a rented facility. “As I went through the process of licensing and certification, I learned a lot. First and foremost, laws are mostly in place to protect the consumer, but also the business owner. We’re at the beginning of this journey; having been in business for just a few years, but following the rules has made us a better, more sound company, in all aspects.”

“We just don’t think it is good policy to create a blanket exemption – in this case an exception big enough to serve cookies to everyone in Tiger Stadium and still not have to be inspected. The bill could be interpreted to allow people to open bakeries out of their homes in residential neighborhoods. It’s like saying if you’re a truck driver and drive less than 50,000 miles a year, you don’t have to worry about speed limits … it makes no sense to us,” adds Wilhelm. “Some of our members have started with very little money and just a little help from their friends. We encourage people to follow their dream and start their own company, but we feel that following the rules is just good business. This bill would start us down a slippery slope – who doesn’t want to follow the rules next?”

“Louisiana Senate Bill 18 gets rid of the entire state sanitary code and throws other laws and regulations overboard as well. It opens gaping hole in Louisiana’s Sanitary Code,” concludes Atwood, “and has the potential to hurt consumers and businesses alike.”

Senate Bill 18 is scheduled for final passage in the State Senate on Monday, April 29, 2013 – if passed it will be sent to the House of Representatives. United Bakers encourages all concerned citizens to contact their State Senators and State Representatives to voice their concerns.

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Tobias Wilhelm

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