Charitable chili suppers are being shut down all over Missouri by rogue inspectors acting as “food Nazis,” according to a Republican state senator who wants to exempt such non-profit events from regulation.
Sen. Mike Cunningham pushed Senate Bill (SB) 432 through the upper chamber on a 29-to-2 vote. The measure, which would allow non-profit organizations to prepare food in a private home “or other area” for distribution to consumers at charitable fundraising events, is now being considered by the Missouri House.
Local health officials in Missouri fear SB 432 will pre-empt local food codes. They view the bill, according one county environmental health supervisor, as “very dangerous” because it “would allow not-for-profit and charitable groups to prepare potentially hazardous foods at home to serve to the public for fund raising.”
In the House, SB 432 has been assigned to the Professional Registration and Licensing Committee. While no committee action has been scheduled, the Missouri General Assembly is not scheduled to adjourn until May 30.
The Missouri bill would require nonprofits preparing food in kitchens that are not subject to regulation to post signs informing the public of their status. The nonprofit would be required to notify regulatory authorities, in writing or by electronic mail, before an event was held.
The regulatory exemption would not apply in certain counties governed by a charter form of government.
The State of Missouri has adopted the 1999 Food Code produced by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Several local boards of health and county commissions have adopted the 2009 Food Code.
Missouri’s bill is very similar to one introduced earlier this year in Minnesota. That bill, which has gone nowhere, would have exempted chili made in home kitchens for nonprofit events from any liability for causing illnesses or deaths.