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Florida Cottage Food Act is drawing praise, but also some confusion from budding chefs across the state

5:31 PM, Aug 1, 2011   |    comments
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Monday marks one month since a law took effect that aims to help food entrepreneurs across the state.

It's called the Florida Cottage Food Act, and it lets budding chefs start a business in their own kitchen without having to get pricey permits.

More Info: The Florida Cottage Food Act (PDF)

The law inspired Geoff DeZutter to start Southern Charm Chocolates out of his home in Valrico.

"People can take a chance now and start a business without having a hefty investment," he says.

Without the law, he would have had to rent space in a commercial kitchen to create his product. He says that could have cost as much as $50 for every half hour. Passing that onto customers would have made the cost "almost too high for the average person to afford," according to DeZutter.

But along with praise, the new law has also drawn confusion from some entrepreneurs. Permitting and other processes differ from county to county, leaving business owners helping each other online.

The Hillsborough County Small Business Information Center has also set up workshops to mentor those who want to create businesses under the law. Some of those workshops are being held later this month. You can visit the SBIC's website or call (813) 914-4028 and press option 4 to become involved.

If you visit DeZutter's website, you'll notice that you can't make purchases on it. That's because the Florida Cottage Food Act prohibits online sales. Under the law, businesses also can't make more than $15,000 a year in gross sales.

Even with those restrictions, DeZutter says the law has been a big step for small businesses.

"People who want to succeed can now," he says.

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