The National Environmental Health Association (NEHA) identified 223 bills that were introduced in 30 states and Washington, DC, related to food, food safety, retail food, and cannabis as a food product. In total, 78 of these bills were enacted.
Food safety was the main topic covered: 77 bills were introduced and 30 bills were enacted. California A 619 allows for a food facility to use multiuse utensils and California S 677 requires food employees to use nonlatex utensils, including gloves. Hawaii enacted H 463 that establishes a food safety certification training program to assist small to medium sized farms to comply with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Good Agricultural Practices Certification Program. Indiana H 1210 changes the title of certified food handler to certified food protection manager. Kentucky H 420 seeks to implement the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). Louisiana H 136 creates the crime of adulterating food. Washington S 6091 seeks to continue the work of the state’s food policy forum.
Another 29 enacted bills addressed food facilities. Illinois H 3343 allows restaurants to accept Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) vouchers. California A 619 provides that clean consumer-owned containers provided or returned to the food facility for filling may be filled by either the employee or the owner of the container. Maine LD 982 expands the use of Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) assistance at farmers markets. Washington S 5218 concerns mobile food facilities. Oklahoma enacted three bills regarding the sale of food at farmers markets (H 1055, S 544, and S 1785). Washington S 6309 expands SNAP access to fruits and vegetables at farmers markets.
Colorado S 20-078 allows dogs on restaurant patios.
The continued expansion of cottage foods and food freedom movements leads to extra challenges for food safety professionals. Of the 43 bills introduced, 13 bills were enacted on cottage foods in 10 states. California AB 377 limits home kitchen operations. Maryland H 1017 requires that cottage food products include a label identifying the operation’s name and phone number. Maine H 573 establishes a constitutional amendment regarding the right to food that will be presented to voters in November. Texas H 1694 and S 572 seek to limit the scope of cottage foods in the state. Wyoming H 84 expands the state’s food freedom laws.
Seven bills were enacted seeking to clarify the use of cannabis in foods. California S 34 allows retail food operations to provide free cannabis products to medical users. Maine LD 719 and LB 630 state that foods made with cannabis products cannot be considered adulterated, which could be problematic for regulatory agencies Virginia enacted S 918 that created the Industrial Hemp Fund.
State enactment of FSMA enhances state and local food safety programs. The seven enacted bills addressing cannabis in foods further brings cannabis and hemp into the food safety realm. State and local food safety agencies will have to regulate cannabis products in foods.
North Carolina H 735 authorizes the adoption of the FDA 2017 Food Code.
Kentucky H 369 allows taxidermists to dispose of cervid meat. Maine LB 351 provides that poultry and meat products may not be labeled as a certified state product unless the meat was raised solely in the state. Montana S 56 repeals the meat and poultry inspection appeals process. Oklahoma H 2008 permits the sale of beef and bison in intrastate commerce. Oklahoma H 2155 prohibits the feeding of garbage to swine. South Carolina H 4245 makes it unlawful to represent cell cultured meat as meat or protein.
Doug Farquhar is the Director of Government Affairs at the National Environmental Health Association in Denver, Colorado.