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  • Sydney posted an update 5 years, 8 months ago

    Aloha! It seems that the two bills are getting some traction in Hawaii! Both have made it through their initial hearings, but the Hawaii Dept of Health is opposing them on two counts. First, they indicated that they have a measure in Hawaii Administrative Rules (HAR) Title 11, Chapter 12, which relates to temporary food establishments, that allows for the production of non-hazardous foods in a home-kitchen. Second, there is concern all around as to the safety of these products. In crafting a response for the next hearing, I would very much like to have some evidence that cottage foods are not inherently more risky than those prepared in a commercial kitchen. Are there any studies so concerned, that you know of?
    @david

    • Very good to hear! I’m not sure if there is any concrete evidence that the laws are safe, other than the complete lack of evidence indicating otherwise. I’ve read A LOT about the cottage food industry and have yet to come across one complaint issued to a health dept. I really feel like if there were public health problems with the implementation of a cottage food law in other states, I would have heard about them. This is a common concern in the planning stages of a bill, but it’s never an issue once the law gets implemented, even in the least restrictive of states. My personal opinion is that although this issue gets raised in the name of safety (which everyone is concerned about), the motivations for raising it are usually ulterior (health depts not wanting more work, existing businesses not wanting competition, etc.)

      The only study I’m aware of is this one: http://forrager.com/2013/11/09/harvard-students-produce-study-cottage-food-industry/
      I’m not sure if there’s any mention of safety concerns in that study though (but again, if there isn’t, that by itself is evidence given that that study was highly researched).

      Also, this topic reminds me of a recent article in Forbes, where it appears that the writer tried to contact all county health depts in California. The 12 counties that had numbers said that they haven’t received one complaint in the past year, so that’s about the best evidence I know of.

      As far as the temporary food establishment thing, I don’t even know why they’re trying to use that to oppose the bill. Other states have temporary food establishment laws, but still found the need to create cottage food laws in addition to them. I read that HAR subchapter and it specifically says that all foods need to be made in an “approved kitchen”. I guess they might be referring to the part where it says that the health director can waive the rules if they choose to. In which case, it would be important to learn if this is actually happening: are people running non-PHF businesses from home with the health depts approval? And if this is so common, why is it being used to oppose the bill that would give that ruling more clarity? Makes no sense, and again, the motives may be ulterior.

      • I do suspect that there are ulterior motives, absolutely. But how to craft a testimony directly addressing this? One of the state senators, who introduced the bill that is just like California’s, contacted me last night to see if I’d come across any proof that the products are safe/not safe, and I sent along that Forbes article but couldn’t find anything else. Thank you so much for your support. Pardon the copy-paste job, but here is the testimony submitted by DOH. Let me know if you have any suggestions!

        Promoting Lifelong Health & Wellness
        NEIL ABERCROMBIE
        GOVERNOR OF HAWAII
        GARY L. GILL
        ACTING DIRECTOR OF HEALTH
        STATE OF HAWAII
        DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH
        P.O. Box 3378
        HONOLULU, HAWAII 96801-3378
        In reply, please refer to:
        File:
        Committee on Economic Development & Business
        HB 2153, RELATING TO COTTAGE FOOD BUSINESSES
        Testimony of Gary L. Gill
        Acting Director of Health
        January 31, 2014
        9:00am
        Department’s Position: The department opposes this bill because it already 1 has necessary
        2 permitting and enforcement authority and procedures.
        3 Fiscal Implications: Passage of this measure would require the promulgation of new administrative
        4 rules.
        5 Purpose and Justification: The department opposes this bill as it is unnecessary. Current Hawaii
        6 Administrative Rules (HAR) Title 11, Chapter 12, which governs food safety already allows for non7
        potentially hazardous foods (Non-PHF) to be produced in a home kitchen and sold directly only to
        8 consumers.
        9 The department currently protects public health by requiring most of the measures being
        10 introduced by this bill, such as the completion of an application. The application process allows the
        11 department to conduct an assessment of the foods being manufactured and sold and determine its safety
        12 and whether or not it meets the definition of being non-potentially hazardous.
        13 The restriction that allows the “cottage foods” to only be sold for a maximum of 20 days of sale
        14 in any 120 day window at a specific location also reduces the public health risk of foodborne illness or
        15 the consumption of possibly adulterated foods by reducing the volume that can be sold. It is a generally
        16 held principle in food safety that adverse risk increases with increased volume of food distributed.
        17 The department already has the necessary enforcement powers under current law to order
        18 operators to cease and desist the sale of implicated foods associated with a foodborne illness
        HB 2153
        Page 2 of 2
        investigation or suspected adulteration. The department may also seize or embargo the 1 food products as
        2 it deems necesssary to protect the health and safety of consumers.
        3 The department is currently approving the following types of foods that originate from home
        4 kitchens: cookies, breads, jams, jellies, candies, chocolates, whole uncut fruits and produce, cotton
        5 candy, dry herbs, nuts, rubs, spices, re-packing of arare and other non-hazardous snackes, etc.
        6 At present, the department reviews and approves an average of 106 non-potentially hazardous
        7 temporary food establishment (TFE) permits a month (cottage food businesses) and another 418
        8 potentially hazardous food (PHF) TFE permits monthly. The department’s food safety program
        9 generates over $125,000 annually from these TFE permits that we currently charge $25 for 20 days of
        10 sale. Potentially hazardous TFE are required to prepare all foods in a DOH permitted kitchen. No PHF
        11 foods are allowed to be produced for sale in a home kitchen.
        12 Contrary to what is stated in the bill, Hawaii has had an active cottage food industry for decades
        13 and has been successfully regulated by the department under HAR Title 11, Chapter 12.
        14 The department has recently proposed sweeping new administrative rules that govern food
        15 safety and have recently completed the public hearings process and is awaiting final Governor’s
        16 approval. Even though the proposed HAR is a complete paradigm shift on how the department regulates
        17 the food service industry, it will not change the regulatory landscape with regards to the cottage food
        18 inductry as proposed by this measure.
        19 Thank you for the opportunity to testify.

        • Hi, Sydney! My organization, Peers, just launched a new petition platform to help folks who want to push back against legislation just like this. I’d love to chat to see if we can help! (We’re a nonprofit and creating a petition is free.)

          My email is cristina [at] peers.org if you want to get in touch.

          Best,

          Cristina Moon

    • I’m pretty liberal in my allowances on this site… if a state is allowing home food sales then I include them. There are some states that don’t have laws, but are on the map because the health department allows home food sales anyway. If the health dept could offer any kind of written proof (posted online) that these kinds of operations are allowed, then I’ll update Hawaii’s page to reflect that.

      If these operations are so commonplace, why don’t you just go ahead and get started? And if you run into barriers, maybe you can use your experiences as evidence in your response.

      However, that doesn’t mean the the current rule couldn’t be improved. Temporary permits have their place, but a CFO is an on-going business. Maybe you should propose, in your response, that the department’s employees submit an application every 120 days to keep their job. And, btw, they won’t be able to work and get paid more than 1 day a week. ;-)

      There are also plenty of other things that a cottage law would improve on. For instance, it sounds like it’s currently impossible to sell non-PHFs in a store. They are concerned about safety but they currently have no way to enforce a kitchen inspection or food handlers training. For any home food business that runs for more than 60 days a year, they are essentially forced to operate under the table and are therefore held to no standard. That is basically what the DOH is proposing by keeping the laws as-is.