Legislators approve new regulations for home-based food producers

Legislators approve new regulations for home-based food producers

by
Dustin Hurst
January 21, 2016
Dustin Hurst
Author Image
January 21, 2016

Pie and cookie makers across the state: Idaho’s public health districts have their eyes on you.

Idaho House Health and Welfare Committee members gave their stamp of approval to state food-code regulations written last year by the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare.

Those amendments require home-based food producers to post signage that states their goods have not been inspected by a regulatory authority. The signage, which should be posted wherever the producers sell their goods, must also indicate if the food contains allergens.

The foods covered are those not time or temperature controlled for safety. Idaho regulations say foods falling into this category could include: “baked goods, fruit jams and jellies, fruit pies, breads, cakes, pastries and cookies, candies and confections, dried fruits, dry herbs, seasonings and mixtures, cereals, trail mixes and granola, nuts, vinegar, popcorn and popcorn balls, and cotton candy.”

Julia Page, a board member of the Idaho Organization of Resource Councils, praised the new regulations as a common sense middle ground between food freedom and consumer safety.

Elizabeth Criner, working for the Northwest Food Producers Association, worried the new regulations don’t meet industry safety standards, which she said could jeopardize consumer safety.

“When people are fearful of the food supply, that creates a problem for everyone,” she told the panel Thursday.

The House panel approved the regulations unanimously. The Senate Health and Welfare Committee will take up the same proposal next week.

Though the new rules will add burdens to home-based food producers, the proposed regulations are less onerous than what legislators considered during the 2015 session. A 2015 bill would have required such producers to register with the state government, pass a food safety test, and create food labels and send them to area health districts.

Additionally, the 2015 bill would have capped home-based food producer income at $30,000 a year, plus ban them from selling their pies, cakes and cookies across state lines.

That bill cleared the House Health and Welfare Committee, but never received a full hearing on the House floor.

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