Monday, March 19, 2012

California Assembly Considers a Range of Food Legislation

The Sacramento Bee ran a front-page story today about proposed legislation that would alter how the state regulates food production and sale. Here's an excerpt from Torey Van Ort's story:
California is no stranger to major food policy measures, including a ban on foie gras that is set to go into effect later this year. But heightened interest in food issues, including the farm-to-table movement and demands for increased disclosure, are driving more proposed changes.
"I think in recent years, there's been an awareness that buying local is good for you and also good for the environment," said Assemblyman Mike Gatto, who is carrying a bail that would lift restrictions on selling homemade prepared foods. "I think that as families have realized that, certainly the Legislature has heard from constituents."

Van Ort goes on to describe Gatto's bill to permit the sale of so-called "cottage food products," including granola, baking mixes, baked goods, mixed nuts, preserves and roasted coffee made in individuals' homes. The law would give public health officials the authority to inspect home kitchens. Van Ort also provides a national perspective on the proposed law, noting that while California prides itself for being on the vanguard in food and ag matters, cottage food industry bills are all the rage in statehouses around the nation these days.

The story also details other food-related initiatives in California:

  • Senator Bill Emmerson, R-Hemet, has a resolution urging stricter federal standards in relation to the mislabeling of gluten-free foods.
  • Senator Ted Lieu, D-Torrance, is pursuing legislation aimed at ensuring that diners know the source of harvest for fish served in restaurants. He cites concerns about contamination and the lack of fishing regulations in some parts of the world.
  • "A coalition is seeking to qualify an initiative for the November ballot that would mandate labeling for genetically modified foods. Supporters have poured nearly $1.3 million into the effort, including $500,000 from a Chicago man who runs a natural health website."

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