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Vitamin Cottage Liability Bill Stalls in Committee

Suicide is not the usual way for a bill to die.  

But that word may be appropriate to the obituary of Colorado House Bill 11-1190, a bill that would have freed Centennial State retailers from liability for selling contaminated food.

Last Tuesday (Feb. 22) HB11-1190 was postponed, on a 10-1 vote of the House Judiciary Committee, “indefinitely at the request of the sponsor.”   

Rep. Jerry Sonnenberg asked to have the bill placed on ice after his Senate partner on the measure, Sen. Cheri Jahn, confirmed that HB11-1190 was introduced at the behest of Lakewood-based Cottage Natural Food Markets Inc.

The 30-unit Vitamin Cottage chain, with stores in Colorado, New Mexico, and Texas, was caught up in the Peanut Corporation of America salmonella outbreak two years ago. It was buying organic peanuts from PCA and then grinding them in its stores into peanut butter. 

Since PCA went bankrupt, and there was no other manufacturer between it and Vitamin Cottage, the Colorado-based retail chain ended up with responsibility for a few of the hundreds of cases that resulted from the nationwide Salmonella outbreak.

“If HB 11-1190 had been the law in 2009, the people who “trusted” Vitamin Cottage and got sick because of eating its peanut butter would have been SOL,” commented Colorado Pols, the political website that persuaded Sen. Jahn to confirm the bill was introduced for Vitamin Cottage. 

 “The people in whom we entrust our fragile food supply must understand that they will be held to a higher standard of care than those who merely sell us cars or shoes or computers. Yet, Vitamin Cottage is asking our legislators to lower the standard. “

HB11-1190 is probably dead, based on the old legislative wisdom that bills not moving forward are dead. However, any bill parked in committee cannot be considered truly dead until adjournment sine die on May 11.

Colorado Pols reported that Vitamin Cottage has professional lobbyist Kirsten Thompson working to get the bill passed, according to records filed with the Secretary of State.

© Food Safety News
  • Gabrielle Meunier

    Every manufacturer needs to be responsible for the ingredients of their product. If they are not manufacturing the ingredients themselves, they should make sure they trust the inspecting company and they should do their own inspections.

  • Really?

    If the store buys a packaged product from someone else say like a can of tuna, why would this store be liable and have to spend money on lawyers. We are sooo sue happy in our society.