Two bills, one to enact a “Food Freedom” statute and the other to continue only pasteurized milk sales, followed a similar course during the recently completed session of the North Dakota Legislature in Bismarck. Both bills were signed into law.
One was not exactly the price of passing the other, but the sponsor of the “Food Freedom” law found it was easier to pass “Food Freedom” once raw milk was dropped from the equation.
North Dakota Rep. Luke Simons, R-Dickinson, found that after he removed raw milk sales, his “Food Freedom” law passed easily with a 58-to-29 vote in the House and 36-to-10 vote in the Senate. A rancher, Simons just completed his first session.
Among the “freedoms” enacted in the new North Dakota law is an exemption from grading eggs from a producer’s own flock under the statute. Also a “cottage food operator” may produce and package food from a home kitchen.
The new law defines a “cottage food product” as including baked goods, jams, jellies and other food and drink products. It permits sales by cottage food operators to “an informed end consumer.”
Only sales for home consumption are permitted, and they “may occur at a farm, ranch, farmers’ market, farm stand, home-based kitchen or another venue not otherwise permitted by law.
The new North Dakota law reminds producers that transactions may not involve interstate commerce, or be conducted over the internet or phone, including through the mail or by consignment.
Sales of meat products produced without inspection are prohibited except for small poultry producers. Cottage food operators are permitted to raise poultry flocks with up to 1,000 birds per year, so long as the product is not adulterated or misbranded.
Unprocessed fruits and vegetables prepared by a cottage food operator may not be sold in any food establishment, processing plant or food store.
End consumers must be told that cottage food sold under the law is not certified, labeled, licensed, packaged, regulated or inspected. Also any cottage food products that require refrigeration will require labeling.
Signage saying “This product is made in a home kitchen that is not inspected by the state or local health department” must be present at the point of sale and on product labels.
The North Dakota Department of Health and local health authorities may investigate any illness or environmental health complaints. In addition, the “Food Freedom” law makes no change to state requirements for brand inspections or animal health inspections.
Several actions that also might interfere with interstate commerce are also specifically prohibited by the law.
Wyoming’s “Food Freedom” law was first adopted in 2015, and expanded in 2017. About two dozen other states have permitted production and sales of some “cottage food” products. Most of those statutes were adopted after 2010.
The North Dakota Legislature unanimously passed the Pasteurized Milk Ordinance, adopted the 2015 revision of the Grade “A” Pasteurized Ordinance as issued by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and USDA’s Public Health Service.
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