With permission, we repost Doug Farquhar’s most recent summary of food and food safety legislative actions by states.
By Doug Farquhar, JD
State legislatures introduced several hundred bills related to food during their 2021 legislative sessions. Almost every state introduced legislation regarding food. From food delivery, cannabis, and coronavirus to food freedom, state legislatures heard about proposed policy changes to food laws.
NEHA tracked 382 bills in 36 states, with 73 being enacted in 36 states. Most legislatures have adjourned (aka sine die) for 2021.
NEHA identified 73 bills enacted by state legislatures in the 2021 legislative session regarding food safety, including bills related to retail food, food delivery, restaurants, raw milk, and food freedom laws.
Cannabis in Foods
Kentucky HB 325 establishes labeling requirements for cannabidiol products.
Nevada enacted SB 114 (2021) that relates to hemp and authorizes the sale or production of food that contains hemp at food establishments. The law requires the Department of Health and Human Services to adopt regulations related to food that contains hemp and prohibits food from being deemed as adulterated solely because such food contains hemp.
In Virginia, HB 1430 and SB 918 (2021) create the Industrial Hemp Fund that declares industrial hemp extract as a food, subjects it to statutory requirements, and establishes standards for the manufacturing of industrial hemp extract. Industrial hemp is approved as a food additive.
Alaska enacted HB 22 that relates to raw milk and a shared animal program.
Pennsylvania’s SB 434 provides for milk sell-by and best-by date labeling.
Vermont enacted HB 218 (Act 22) that relates to the sale of unpasteurized raw milk.
Food Freedom/Cottage Foods
In the 2021 state legislative sessions, 69 bills in 29 states were related to cottage foods that relaxed or eliminated food safety requirements for retail foods. In total, 15 of these bills have been enacted into law.
Alabama expanded its cottage foods law, allowing for online sales, removing the gross receipts cap, and requiring nutrition labeling (SB 160).
Arkansas also expanded its cottage food law to include internet sales (HB 1118). The state enacted the Food Freedom Act that exempts producers of homemade food and drinks from licensure, certification, and inspection (SB 248).
California’s AB 831 would require a cottage food operation that advertises to indicate that the food is made or packaged in a home kitchen.
The Colorado legislature enacted SB 21-079 to deregulate meat sales. The act allows the sale of meat (rabbit, cattle, elk, sheep, hogs, bison, and goats, but not fish) of a shared animal without licensure, regulation, or inspection by a public health agency.
Florida expanded its cottage food operation by increasing the annual gross sales, offering the sale of cottage foods through the mail, and preempting the regulation of cottage food operations by prohibiting local governments from regulating cottage foods operations (HB 663).
SB 2007 (Public Act 0633) in Illinois requires that cottage food operations comply with certain food safety requirements. The law requires local health departments to register cottage food operations and allows them to sample water used for such operations. The law requires each cottage food product that is shipped to be sealed in a manner that reveals tampering and prohibits a cottage food product from being shipped out of state. It also exempts from state regulation the sale of non-potentially hazardous baked goods by a religious, charitable, or nonprofit organization for fundraising purposes. The bill contains a home rule preemption.
The Indiana legislature requested recommendations regarding home-based vendors from state agencies (SB 185, P.L. 140).
Montana enacted the Local Food Choice Act exempting homemade food producers from state licensure, permitting, certification, and labeling requirements (SB 199, Chap. 04 30).
The New Mexico legislature enacted the Homemade Food Act (HB 177, Chap. 98) that establishes labeling requirements and exempts nonhazardous homemade food items from regulation, as well as preempts local oversight of homemade foods.
Oklahoma enacted HB 1032 that exempts the production and sale of homemade food products from licensing and other requirements of the State Department of Health and the Department of Agriculture, Food, and Forestry. Homemade food products shall not include alcoholic beverages, unpasteurized milk, or cannabis or marijuana products.
In Utah, the legislature enacted HB 94 that allows for microenterprise home kitchens.
Wyoming expanded its food freedom law by authorizing the sale of eggs and homemade foods in accordance with federal exemptions (HB 1118, Chap. 42).
A total of five states enacted laws on food delivery.
Arkansas enacted the Fair Food Delivery Act (HB 1426). Food delivery must have an agreement with a food facility to take food orders and deliver food orders prepared by the food facility to customers.
Colorado’s SB 21-035 prohibits a third-party delivery service from arranging a pickup from a retail food establishment without their consent.
New Hampshire enacted HB 593 (Chap. 144) that requires food service delivery to enter into an agreement with the food establishment or retail store before offering delivery service from that establishment.
The New Jersey legislature enacted S 2437 (P.L. C 42) that limits service fees charged to restaurants by third-party takeout and delivery operations during COVID-19.
Texas SB 911 relates to the regulation of restaurants and third-party food delivery services, including the issuance of alcoholic beverage certificates to restaurants.
Overall, four bills were enacted on food deserts.
Maryland addressed food deserts (HB 831 and SB 723) through the establishment of the Food Safety System Resiliency Council to address the food insecurity crisis due to the pandemic, develop recommendations to increase the long-term resiliency of the food system, and develop a plan to increase the production and procurement of state-certified food by Nov. 1, 2021, (HB 831 and SB 723, Sess. 2021).
Maine enacted LD 691 to support farms and address food insecurity.
In Utah, SB 141 calls for a task force on food security.
The New York legislature is directing the Commissioner of Agriculture and Markets to produce a report on the state’s farm and food supply regarding ways to improve the resiliency of food supply chain logistics to address food shortages, food wastes, and the inability to get estate-grown food goods to markets as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic (AB 952 and SB 1305, Sess. 2021).
Food Donation and Supply
New York A 963, S 901 (Chap. 63) relates to supermarkets providing excess food to food relief organizations.
New York A 1262, SB 878 (Chap. 15) relates to the state working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to receive approvals and develop online fresh food purchasing options throughout the state.
Texas HB 1276 would increase access to bulk food by allowing foodservice establishments to sell certain consumer food products directly to an individual.
West Virginia amended its state farm bill (HB 2633, Chap. 7).
Bills in nine states were enacted regarding meat products.
Arkansas HB 1315 transfers the state’s meat inspection program to the department of agriculture.
Maine’s LD 66 makes technical changes to the laws governing the preparation of livestock and poultry products for human consumption. The law prohibits the sale of horsemeat and limits the sale of meat to “cattle, sheep, swine, goats, or an exotic species defined by the federal act, not deer, rabbits, or equines” (HB 66, Sess. 2021). LD 77 authorizes the Maine Department of Marine Resources to charge an application fee for entering a lottery for a scallop license (HB 77, Sess. 2021).
Montana joined the Interstate Cooperative Meatpacking Compact (HB 336, Chap. 05 07).
Nebraska amended its Meat and Poultry Inspection Law. LB 324 would allow the acquisition of meat through an animal share contract — an ownership interest in an animal or herd of animals created by a written contract between a consumer and a farmer or rancher. The meat sold must be inspected by USDA; however, the law would allow a producer to sell packages of meat to consumers under a custom exemption in federal law.
Virginia’s HB 1353 (Chap. 0318) updates existing code regarding the Federal Meat Inspection Act and the Federal Poultry Products Inspection Act. Virginia also enacted HB 1448, SB 791 (Chap. 0201) regarding the management of the menhaden fishery to comply with the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission Interstate Fishery Management Plan for Atlantic Menhaden.
Wyoming’s HB 51 (Chap. 155) authorizes a state government program to expand and enhance meat processing capabilities. HB 54 (Chap. 44) amends the duties of the Wyoming business council to require support for producers in the agriculture and meat processing industry, expands permissible loans and grants to Wyoming meat producers and processors, and limits state rulemaking authority related to meat processing.
Indiana enacted SB 20 regarding micro-market food sales. The law specifies that a “vending machine” includes a self-service device that can be activated by the use of a software application on a smartphone. The law also provides that an owner or operator of a micro-market must notify the corporation or local health department where the micro-market is located no later than 10 business days after the installation of the market.
California enacted AB 831, amending its retail food code by expanding the foodservice functions of a charitable feeding operation to include commercially prepared hazardous cold or frozen foods. It also would authorize satellite food services to operate within a permanent food facility and makes pushcarts exempt from mechanical exhaust ventilation equipment requirements.
Oklahoma’s HB 1772 requires the State Board of Health to provide a multi-seasonal license for snow cone stands that sell hot beverages in addition to snow cones.
Texas S.B. 617 defines a “producer,” as a person who added value to the food product the person is selling and clarifies that farmers’ markets must have a majority of their vendors who are farmers or food producers selling food directly to consumers. The bill would recompense farmers’ market vendors for their expense in bringing suit to enforce the law if necessary.
Supplement Nutrition and Assistance Program (SNAP)
Laws about SNAP were enacted in five states.
Connecticut’s HB 6385 includes chicken eggs as part of the state’s Farmers Market/WIC and Senior Nutrition Program. Hawaii’s SB 512 (Act 177) removes the $10/day cap on the state’s healthy food incentive program. The law also allows health proteins for purchase under the program.
The Maryland legislature enacted SB 913 that establishes the Heat and Eat Program within SNAP, expanding food access and studying whether SNAP recipients can be automatically eligible for the state’s Energy Assistance Program.
New Jersey’s A 4240 (P.L. C 93) provides a technological upgrade to the SNAP application process. The state’s AB 5405 (P.L. C 67) appropriates $10 million to support food bank organizations.
Tennessee’s SB 751 (Chap. 515) establishes fines for certain offenses related to fraudulently obtaining food assistance.
Water Bottle Filling Stations
Louisiana HB 132 requires newly constructed public school buildings to be equipped with water bottle filling stations.
Editors Note: Doug Farquhar is the director of Government Affairs at the National Environmental Health Association in Denver. Farquhar previously was the long-time director of the Environmental Health Program at the National
Conference of State Legislatures. At NCSL, Farquhar helped develop tools that improved the non-partisan policy shop’s ability to track state legislative actions in real-time. He was generous in sharing that work with Food Safety News when he was at NCLS and we are pleased to report he continues to be helpful to us at NEHA.