Legislatures across the U.S. passed almost 40,000 laws on a variety of issues in 2011, per data from the National Conference of State Legislatures. Many of these laws went into effect Jan. 1, and here are a few that are food-related.
- In Oregon and California, two new laws make it a crime to possess, sell, trade or distribute shark fins. Restaurants that purchased shark fins before Jan. 1 can possess and sell them until Jan. 1, 2013.
- Some farmers will be permitted to sell products direct to consumers without licenses of inspection, according to new legislation in Oregon, which includes products considered fairly safe. Those that pose a greater risk must be produced at a facility that is licensed. Labeling requirements for products sold by one farmer and produced by another also are included in the law.
- Oregon businesses that only sell pre-packaged foods or those in which food and beverage sales make up a small amount of its activity will be exempt from routine inspections by the USDA, according to this new law.
What other food legislation can we expect to see in 2012?
- Food Safety Modernization Act: A year ago, President Barack Obama signed into law that would give $39 million for its implementation in 2012. View an interactive timeline. In 2011, 44 states introduced bills regarding food safety — and more are expected this year. More inspections and more recalls will be on tap, too.
- The Farm Bill: Lobbying efforts from all corners of the industry will continue. There potentially will be widespread implications for ingredient prices and food, but it’s anybody’s guess as to whether Congress will use last fall’s draft bill, start from scratch or wait until after November.
- Nutrition standards and food marketing to children: Finding a middle ground between children’s health advocates and the industry could take a while. The voluntary nutritional standards for foods marketed to children, introduced in April, were diluted in October, and now Congress wants a cost-benefit analysis done.
What legislation are you keeping an eye on?