The number of home-based food sellers in Mississauga and Brampton is on the rise, but many, if not all, are operating illegally.
The pages of popular online classifieds sites such as Craigslist and Kijiji are full of people selling all manner of foods, from cakes to roti, and some local brick-and-mortar vendors are upset that they have to pay for a permit, while these home-based operations do not.
"It's all over the place," said Rose Ferdinand, the owner of Essence Cakes on Torbram Road in Brampton. Ferdinand, who sells baked goods such as cakes and cupcakes, said when she contacted city officials in Brampton, they "made it clear that I could not bake out of my kitchen at home and sell to the public."
Ferdinand was forced to lease a commercial kitchen and pay the $110 annual fee for a "food handler" licence, but is frustrated the city doesn't crack down on those operating out of their homes.
"We have the overhead and people are biting into the little business that is out there," she said.
However, the situation is not as cut-and-dry as Ferdinand would believe. Brampton does not actually prohibit the act of selling food from someone's home.
But city zoning bylaws stipulate that the seller is required to have a food handler's permit, which can only be issued once Peel Health has inspected and cleared the home owner's kitchen.
The problem is that clearance from Peel Health "cannot be obtained for a personal residence," said City of Brampton spokesperson Gordon Smith.
The story is similar down the road in Mississauga. The city does not require a licence for home bakers, but its "home occupation" zoning bylaw does not permit "food sales from a residence."
A person selling food from a residence could be charged under bylaw 0225-2007, section 4.1.16.
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