Editorial writers for Wyoming’s largest and capital city newspapers want the state Senate to reject the “Food Freedom Act” that just unanimously passed the state House of Representatives. “The measure, which lawmakers recently described as ‘an old friend,’ has come calling previously in many forms,” the Wyoming Tribune-Eagle editorialized this past Friday. “Indeed, it has been turned away five times in the last seven years by lawmakers who saw its dangers. “And dangerous it is. It has the potential to create an outbreak of food poisoning and threaten the lives of children, the elderly and pregnant women as well as make the rest of the state sick,” the editorial continued. The Tribune-Eagle is published in the state’s capital city of Cheyenne. Editorial writers for the Casper Star-Tribune also came out against the “Wyoming Food Freedom Act,” also known as House Bill 56. “In the last five years, the state Department of Health says, about a third of Wyoming’s foodborne outbreaks were linked to unlicensed, unregulated foods, such as those prepared through churches, sports teams, and homes,” Tuesday’s Star-Tribune editorial stated. “We don’t know why anyone would want to open the door to an even greater risk, but a bill that passed the state House last week and now up for Senate consideration, known as the Wyoming Food Freedom Act, seeks to do exactly that,” the Star-Tribune continued. “It would exempt Wyoming food sales from government oversight, including inspections, licensing and certifications, as long as they are single transactions between a producer and an ‘informed end consumer.’” The Star-Tribune called the bill “well-intentioned” but one it cannot support because “it would jeopardize Wyomingites’ health and safety, and that’s simply not a risk legislators should take.” The Star-Tribune is Wyoming’s largest newspaper and has statewide circulation. HB 56 is waiting to be assigned to a committee in the state Senate. The “Food Freedom Act” turned into the darling of the House, where nine Democrats joined with the chamber’s 51 Republicans on Jan. 27 to give the measure a unanimous send-off to the Senate. Passing such a measure was a legislative goal for former Wyoming lawmaker Sue Wallis, the libertarian Republican rancher and cowboy poet from Recluse who died a year ago. With her passing, no one else picked up the “Food Freedom Act” until Rep. Tyler Lindholm (R-Sundance) decided to sponsor it. He delivered it to the Senate in less than three weeks. In some respects, Wyoming’s “Food Freedom Act” is not much different than many so-called “cottage food laws” that other states have adopted, but there are some additional twists that raise food-safety concerns. The nine-page bill permits home kitchens to be used to prepare certain lower-risk foods. It allows sales, which the bill calls “delivery,” to occur about anywhere — including on a farm, ranch, farmers market, home office or “any location agreed to between the producer and the informed end consumer.” Homemade kitchens are not to be “licensed, inspected or regulated.” Anyone in Wyoming who is told that the product is “not licensed, regulated or inspected” becomes a “informed end consumer.” Anyone who harvests “any product of the soil or poultry for food or drink” is a producer. The bill says the purpose of the “Food Freedom Act” is to permit and expand sales of Wyoming’s agricultural products and give its citizens “unimpeded access to healthy food from known sources.” In addition to no licenses, permitting, certifications or inspections, homemade food products would also not be required to have any sort of packaging or labels. Poultry is exempt from regulation under the bill, but no changes are made in how meat is inspected and sold. The bill specifically states that it contains nothing that can be construed to impede Wyoming Department of Health investigations of outbreaks of foodborne illnesses and does not change any requirements involving either brand or animal health inspections. Section J of HB 56 transfers “the inherent risks” from unregulated food to the “informed end consumer.” The language says the consumer, not the farmer or rancher who sold the product, is liable for all risks, known and unknown, including “any and all damage, injury, or death to himself or other persons or property … .” Further in Section K, the proposed law states that the producer is “not required to eliminate, alter or control the inherent risks related to the purchase, ingestion or use of good or food products related to a transaction … .” Then Section M states that actions “based on negligence of the producer,” and not the result of “the inherent risk,” shall be “preserved” under existing law. The attached fiscal note indicates that the bill will have no impact on the state’s finances. It appears that raw milk is one of the products that will sail under the “Food Freedom” bill. Dr. Tracy Murphy, the Wyoming state epidemiologist, reminded state representatives that unpasteurized milk sales made 41 people sick in the Cowboy State during the past five years. The Star-Tribune in Casper editorially noted that children drinking raw milk cannot qualify as “informed consumers” by the bill. And the Cheyenne newspaper editorialized that HB 56 is “a bad bill. That it flew through the House without real consideration of its potential impacts shows it simply has become a political statement about individual liberty. HB 56 should be killed before it takes the life of even one Wyomingite.” Wyoming is among 47 states with legislatures in session this week. Alabama and Florida lawmakers are scheduled to meet on March 3 and Louisiana on April 13. Adjournment in Wyoming is set for early March.