Liberty woman lobbying for statewide Cottage Food Law

STATE — Currently, it is technically illegal for South Carolina residents to prepare baked goods in their homes for sale.
South Carolina does not currently have a Cottage Food Law, but Liberty resident Debra Graybeal is working diligently to ensure one is established.
Preparation and production of food items is tightly regulated by DHEC (the Department of Health and Environmental Control). Any establishment where food is prepared and sold to the public is regulated by DHEC to safeguard consumers.
Restaurants, delicatessens and bakeries all have inspection grades displayed in plain sight so the public knows that the establishment has been inspected by DHEC and has passed the inspection.
A Cottage Food Law is a legal tool employed by a state government to establish a legal arrangement for low-risk food production and preparation to take place in a home residence and then sold to the public.
In other words, if South Carolina establishes a Cottage Food Law, state residents will be allowed to legally prepare certain types of food in their homes and sell them to anyone interested in buying.
Typically the Cottage Food Law pertains to the production of food items that do not pose any significant hazard to consumers. Such products include, but are not limited to, vinegar and flavored vinegars, cakes, sweet breads and muffins that contain fruits or vegetables, cooked fruit pies, cookies, dry herbs and dry herb mixtures and so forth.
Graybeal, a stay-at-home mother of four children, says she has been baking and creating birthday cakes for her children for the last decade.
Current state law requires a separate DHEC-approved kitchen for any home-based bakery. According to Graybeal, this makes it practically impossible for home bakers to operate in South Carolina under current state law. A statewide Cottage Food Law could change that and help contribute to the continued growth of South Carolina’s economy for years to come.
“My husband is a teacher who hasn’t had a raise in three years, and the cost of living continues to go up,” said Graybeal. “I’ve been baking birthday cakes for 10 years, but I can’t sell them because I made them in my home and not in a separate commercial kitchen regulated by DHEC.”
After spending a good deal of time online research Cottage Food Laws, Graybeal came across an article all about Texas establishing a Cottage Food Law for its state, and another about a woman in Georgia trying to get one on the books there.
Graybeal contacted the Georgia woman and after receiving some sage advice began her own mission to convince the SC State Legislature to enact a Cottage Food Law here.
“I started a Facebook page to see if anyone was interested in joining and supporting this cause,” said Graybeal. “Then I created an online petition for people to sign. I contacted local senator and representative Larry Martin and David Hiott.”
On, where Graybeal’s petition continues to gain signatures, she writes:
“We are petitioning our South Carolina state legislators to enact a Cottage Foods bill authorizing the South Carolina Department of Agriculture and local health departments to issue customized ‘Home Bakery’ licenses and permissions to residential kitchens for the purpose of selling non-potentially-hazardous bakery products, such as, but not limited to: breads, cakes, doughnuts, pastries, buns, rolls, cookies, biscuits, and pies (except meat or cream pies).”
Graybeal has garnered support not only from fellow South Carolinians, but also from people worldwide.
“We have a lot of supporters. On the petition we have more than 700 signatures,” said Graybeal. “We wanted a way for people who supported this to be able to put their names on it.”
Cottage food laws have been passed in 25 other states, some of them as recently as within the last 12 months.
It is Graybeal’s belief that this law will help create employment opportunities for state residents who are currently out of work or cannot work in a traditional 9-to-5 setting.
“The success in these states gives us hope that South Carolina can and will follow suit to help small business owners succeed in a growing market, providing new opportunities for local entrepreneurs as well as create new jobs,” she said.
When asked about those consumers who might be leery about purchasing prepared food products from someone’s home, Graybeal said the Cottage Food Law will have safeguards in place to protect people. For instance, DHEC will perform random inspections of these home kitchens.
Graybeal also says that people have to exercise simple common sense.
“Anyone who wants to buy something I’ve baked is welcome to see my kitchen at any time,” she said. “If you are looking to purchase a cake and the baker won’t let you see her kitchen, you probably don’t want to buy anything from there.”
For more information on Cottage Food Laws or to lend your support to Graybeal’s cause, you can search for her Facebook page by entering ‘SC Cottage Food Law’ or visit her petition website at