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Question added to topic Legal Basics For StartupsApril 4, 2008

Should I obtain insurance for a small home based baking business?

I would like to start selling homemade baked goods such as cookies, bars and candy. I will start selling them at craft shows for now to see how well they sell. But I'm worried about allergies people may have to ingredients in my product. I am concerned that if someone gets sick, I'll get sued. Is a list of ingredients on the product enough to protect me?
Here's my question to you: If someone did get sick from your product and won a lawsuit for $250,000, could you afford to pay the legal fees and judgment? If the answer is no, get insurance. Actually, even if the answer is yes, get insurance. You don't want to have to reach into your own pocket to pay these business-related costs. Simply having a list of ingredients will not protect you, as the list only tells people what's in the product. You could have used contaminated ingredients or violated certain FDA standards in your preparation, which goes well beyond the issue of whether you accurately notified people of the contents.

In addition, be sure to carefully check the laws and regulations about making baked products in your home for sale to the general public. Need I say that consulting with an attorney in this area would be v-e-r-y wise? Public health laws can be quite strict about the cleanliness and safeguards that need to be present in a kitchen involved in commercial use--that is, if you intend to use your baking expertise to make money off of it, rather than just delighting your family members at holiday gatherings

Nina L. Kaufman, Esq. is an award-winning New York City attorney, edutainer and author. Under her Ask The Business Lawyer brand, she reaches thousands of entrepreneurs and small business owners with her legal services, professional speaking, information products, and LexAppeal weekly ezine. She also writes the Making It Legal blog.

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