Friday, 3 June 2016

Making a cake

is under fire this morning. The council which covers our northern suburbs has decided it needs to inspect the kitchens of ten or so elderly ladies who have been making and selling cakes for charity. Now let it be said that I think cleanliness in kitchens is important.
Let it also be said that these women have been doing their baking for years. 
It is only recently the council has decided to "enforce the law". 
I suspect it means that someone at the council saw an opportunity and decided to make an issue of it. They have done this knowing full well that it will simply stop the women concerned from baking cakes.
Remember my recent post about the puzzles and the toy library not being able to accept them? This is a similar sort of situation.
I know something about the business of baking at home and selling it on a commercial basis. I know because our former neighbours  had their new home built to comply with the regulations for using the kitchen to bake and supply to commercial outlets. It's a small business for the wife and mother of two. It doesn't bring in a lot. It could bring in more if it ever became necessary. At present though it provides them with just enough extra.
They investigated (and costed) the whole business very thoroughly. The kitchen is inspected on a regular basis by the council inspector because B..... supplies biscuits and cakes to several local outlets. She has a small range of items they know will sell well. Her presentation is excellent. One of the selling points is that these goods are "homemade" but they look highly professional.
It is hard work and she is very, very fussy about hygiene. She knows she needs to be.
I wonder about the elderly women  who have been baking cakes "for donkey's years" too. What is their hygiene like? The report says that one of them commented nobody has yet become ill eating their cake.  If they do follow the basic rules of hygiene then it is  unlikely that anyone will.
I can remember living in one particular rural area where the women would provide meals for large numbers of people under the most difficult conditions. In the days before all the occupational health and safety issues and the hygiene inspectors and refrigeration they would feed everyone from toddlers to teenagers to hefty farmers. I don't remember anyone getting ill, let alone a case of mass poisoning. I suspect there was a lot of hand washing but there were no commercial dishwashers.
Of course health and safety are important but I wonder if it is going just a little too far. The women likely know their fellow bakers' kitchens. They would quietly ensure that anyone who did not meet high standards of cleanliness was prevented from selling to the public. That's been the way of it for years. 
I'd rather preserve the tradition of cake making than have commercial preservation in cake. 

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