State legislatures introduced more than 700 bills regarding food and food safety in 2019, with 132 being enacted and 17 adopted into law, reports The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL).
Laws in 42 of the 50 states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia were enacted regarding food in 2019. New Jersey and New York had the most bills related to the topic, 63 and 59, respectively, followed by Hawaii with 46. At the opposite end were Alaska and Ohio, which had no bills regarding food safety.
The foremost issue regarding food was food safety. Legislatures reviewed many aspects of food safety, from the adoption of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) food code to state efforts to implement the federal Food Safety Modernization Act. Laws regarding food establishments and retail food locations were popular, with 130 bills being introduced and 14 becoming law.
An interesting issue in 2019 was discussion of cell- or plant-based meat laws. The popularity of plant-based meats led to several laws being introduced and enacted on the labeling of these products. Many of these laws involve cell-based meats, even though such products are not readily available.
Limiting a state’s oversight of food safety regulations was a popular topic, with 59 bills being introduced regarding cottage foods, which are often prepared in home kitchens. Food freedom bills, which were introduced and enacted in previous sessions, saw only one bill introduced in 2019; it was not enacted.
Food donation, a popular topic in 2018, got less attention in 2019. However, the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) was reviewed in several states.
Edible cannabis and hemp gained interest from legislators in 2019. States introduced 86 bills regarding food in cannabis or hemp products, enacting 13 laws. Food deserts are another new area of interest for state legislatures.
Dairy and raw milk saw 58 bills introduced, with 10 being enacted into law. The foremost issue under this category was the proper labeling of milk products.
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