PORTSMOUTH, R.I. (WPRI) — Selling food made inside of a person’s home is currently not allowed in Rhode Island, but a new bill hopes to change that.

The Home Food Manufacture Act seeks to alter the current statute to allow Rhode Islanders to tell low-risk foods made inside of a residence to the public. Right now, only food products made in commercial or farm kitchens are allowed to be sold.

It’s frustrating for Kara Donovan, a Portsmouth mother-of-four, who is passionate about making cakes and cookies.

She started to sell her baked goods under the name, “A Spoonful of Sugar,” until the R.I. Department of Health halted her home-based operation.

Due to Rhode Island’s restrictive food law, she wasn’t able to continue fueling her passion while making a profit.

“I think it’s absolutely crazy that 48 other states allow this to happen in some form or another and we don’t,” Donovan said.

In light of the coronavirus pandemic, Donovan wanted to find a way to start a home-based business., which is why she cooked up a plan and took it to Smith Hill to advocate for what’s commonly known as a “Cottage Food Law” in Rhode Island.

“So many industries have made exceptions. There has to be a way,” Donovan said.

Donovan recently testified at a House committee hearing about the bill that would allow the sale of home-processed, low-risk foods. The bill was introduced by Rep. Carol McEntee.

The R.I. Department of Health submitted written testimony that listed “serious concerns” with the legislation as it’s written.

“Unlike food establishments, a residential kitchen is not required to have a public water system;
commercial refrigeration and other equipment; or separate facilities free from pets and home food preparation activities. To a large extent, they are unregulated and not inspected by the regulatory agency,” the testimony states.

The safety concerns are valid, according to Donovan, but she’s willing to do whatever it takes.

“Any steps they want me to go through to make sure the public is safe, I’m willing to do that,” Donovan said.

The R.I. Department of Health said they are willing to talk with the bill’s sponsors about potentially “safer alternatives.”

The bill was held for further study.