The price of baking by the book is something Mistress of Cakes owner Siobain Higgins is prepared to pay, despite increasing competition from home cooks selling unlicensed goods via social media.

Recent media reports claim Facebook groups with thousands of members are acting as a storefront for home cooks, selling anything from novelty cakes to hangi, allowing them to bypass safety laws.

Under the Food Hygiene Regulations a business can't use its domestic kitchen to produce food for sale without an exemption from the Ministry for Primary Industries or a council-approved food-control plan.

Miss Higgins said setting up a commercial kitchen could cost tens of thousands of dollars, and renting a commercial kitchen was also costly, some owners charging an hourly rate and a cut of the profit.

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"We've always done it properly.

"Certificates, licences, kitchens - it's a big expense to do it properly, and the customer pays for that in the product, but it's the only way," she said. "There are no overheads if you are doing it at home."

Rotorua baker Matthew Ferry began selling low-price novelty cakes via Facebook, but stopped when he realised he would need a licence.

Mr Ferry was able to use a friend's commercial kitchen at no cost. He said online sellers were often people who just loved baking.

"People who are baking from home in domestic kitchens and selling online are self-starters who are doing it because it is their passion."

Mr Ferry said there were dangers in buying baked goods online, but hot meals were the real issue.

Miss Higgins said she was removed from what was happening online after establishing her own business operation in Lynmore Ave, but she warned buyers should beware of online sellers.

"If you are paying peanuts, you will probably get peanuts," she said.

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