Selling Homemade Food - What Are the Liabilities?

SOURCE: HG Legal Resources

The sale of homemade food comes with the risk that anyone that eats the product can also face injury through illness and could file a suit against the amateur salesperson when these injuries are sufficient enough for a lawsuit. It is usually important to purchase liability insurance for homemade food items sold to the public.

Food Poisoning

The homemade food sold in a state may have certain regulations that prohibit the type of food sold in the location. This usually affects refrigerated items and something that undergoes either acidifying the product or canning food. Any bacteria or other contaminant can enter into the food that should not sell through these prohibited processes and cause food poisoning. If the seller injures several others at one time or through the same food, he or she can face a lawsuit from any or all of these individuals. If the victim can connect the food poisoning to the homemade product, a lawyer can help prove the case.

Illness from Unsafe Food

Some homemade food is unsafe because it requires refrigeration or a process to remain safe and protect the consumer. Generally, the state will prohibit the sale of these items unless the person has a license or permit to sell and follows all state-related guideline and regulations. If there are procedures necessary to keep the food safe, any illness caused by the sale can connect the product to the condition and lead to a lawsuit. Many illnesses from unsafe food occur through food poisoning, but the seller can also interact with others or prepare the ingredients incorrectly.

Pets in the Kitchen

When a homemade food seller creates products in a home kitchen, he or she must never have pets in the home or near the kitchen. This is a general requirement with Cottage Food laws if they apply to homemade commercial sales. When this type of cook sells something at a commercial level, it is often necessary to purchase time in a commercially approved kitchen and craft the product. However, if this person can still use the home kitchen, the laws do not permit pets near the kitchen. Any bacteria, hair or other materials from the pet can enter the food and cause illness with consumers.

Prepared Product

There are times when a person can prepare food in a way that causes illness. This happens in both restaurants and when crafting products either commercially or in a home kitchen. Sometimes, the materials the person is working with are new or imported from another country. Other times, the materials require extra cooking or preparation. When the cook does not adhere to the instructions for these ingredients, it can cause other illnesses and lead to liability issues with homemade food products. Then, the seller will need to hire a lawyer to protect against litigation.

Liability and Injury

Generally, the person that makes homemade products will retain all liability if there is an injury with someone that consumes the food. These homemade items do not usually receive protection against these liability concerns because the person selling them is an individual not attached to a business. However, if the homemade seller has a limited liability company attached to the production and sales of the food, he or she can shield personal assets in a standard lawsuit. This does not stop a lawsuit from happening when a consumer suffers serious illness from the consumption of the food though.

Injuries from consumption usually entail food poisoning. However, someone that purchases the food can suffer other illness or injury such as a punctured esophagus from bones in meat. Illness can also arise through the consumption of items the person is allergic to such as peanuts. The warning labels or warnings given by the seller should also explain if certain materials are within the product. The person selling can suffer serious damage from a lawsuit because of liability for the illness of the food made in a home or private kitchen. If there are other concerns such as bugs in the food or contaminants from materials that have gone bad or prepared incorrectly, the homemade seller can suffer a lawsuit.

Legal Support for Liability for Illness with Homemade Food Sales

The person that purchases homemade food may require the services of a lawyer to help in litigating against a homemade seller. The lawsuit may involve the illness specifics and the details of how the person created the product to increase the strength of the claim.

Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.

Desenvolvido por: EBGE - Editora Brasileira de Guias Especiais | (81) 3097.7060 | sac@ebge.com.br