Tags: kitchens | homemade | artisanal | inspections | safety

Va. Lawmaker Wants to Clear Home Kitchens of Govt Inspectors

By    |   Friday, 26 December 2014 02:03 PM

Legislation is brewing in the Virginia Legislature to give the state's cooks some relief from the state and local inspectors going through their kitchens.

Virginians who sell homemade food are now subject to having their kitchens inspected, reports Fox News, and their operations can be shut down if the kitchens do not meet state compliance standards.

"I have to turn down my neighbors when they ask if they can buy pesto I make from my own basil plants," Lancaster, Virginia, farmer Bernadette Barber said.

And even in the cities, cooks are facing problems. For example, government inspectors shut down a soup maker, even though no customers had complained.

But a new House bill, sponsored by Charlottesville Republican Delegate Rob Bell, would end such inspections, and instead require the homemade goods to carry a label saying that the foods can't be resold, and that they were processed in kitchens that did not undergo state inspections.

The bill exempts the kitchens from Board of Agriculture and Consumer Services regulations as long as sales are made face-to-face and the producer’s name and address are on the disclosure statement, along with the product’s ingredients, reports The Star-Exponent in Culpepper, Virginia.

Bell told the newspaper that it makes sense to have one bill that covers all homemade, artisanal foods.

"It is a waste of time to have a pickle bill to exempt pickles, a salsa bill to exempt salsa, a honey bill to exempt honey," he said. "Why not have one bill covering all foods?"

Bell said that the motivation for the bill is more than just about spurring the economy.

"It’s more basic than that," Bell said. "This is a consumer choice issue, and no one should be able to tell someone else what food they can buy. You might not want to buy [local artisanal foods], but that shouldn’t stop someone else. We should let people eat the way they want to eat."

Matthew French, a farmer in Bland, Virginia, said it's time for the bill, reports Watchdog.org.

"If someone wants to buy food from someone, what business is that of the state?" he said. "The state basically comes at you with a gun, and says you can only buy from state-approved supplier ... Buyers want to know the person who's preparing their food. People want it — and the state is getting in the way."

The Virginia Food Freedom Act follows an initial bill that Bell sponsored in the January 2014 session.

That bill was criticized by cattlemen, the Virginia Farm Bureau, and government regulators, but the current bill allows for inspection of beef and pork products, a move French said will help to get it passed.

"Politicians are afraid of not getting the Farm Bureau’s support," he told Watchdog.org.

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Legislation is brewing in the Virginia legislature to give the state's cooks some relief from the state and local inspectors going through their kitchens.
kitchens, homemade, artisanal, inspections, safety
Friday, 26 December 2014 02:03 PM
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