Several hundred food-related measures were introduced by state legislation during their 2021 legislative sessions. Almost every state sponsored food-related laws. State legislators heard about proposed policy changes to food legislation ranging from meal delivery, cannabis, and coronavirus to food freedom.

NEHA tracked 382 legislation in 36 states, with 73 of them becoming law. Most legislatures have adjourned (also known as sine die) until 2021.

NEHA recognized 73 bills adopted by state legislation involving food safety in the 2021 legislative session, including bills relating to retail food, food delivery, restaurants, raw milk, and food freedom laws.

Foods Containing Cannabis

Kentucky House Bill 325 mandates the labeling of cannabidiol products.

SB 114 (2021) refers to hemp and permits the sale or manufacturing of hemp-containing food in food establishments. The bill mandates the Department of Health and Human Services to develop rules for hemp-containing foods and bans food from being declared adulterated merely because it includes hemp.

In Virginia, HB 1430 and SB 918 (2021) created the Industrial Hemp Fund, which defines industrial hemp extract as food, subjects it to legislative regulations, and creates criteria for industrial hemp extract manufacture. Industrial hemp has been authorized for use as a food ingredient.

Dairy/Raw Milk

Alaska passed HB 22, which addresses raw milk and a shared animal program.

SB 434 in Pennsylvania mandates the labeling of milk sell-by and best-by dates.

Vermont passed HB 218 (Act 22), which governs the selling of unpasteurized raw milk.

Food Liberty/Cottage Foods

69 proposals relating to cottage foods were introduced in 29 states during the 2021 state legislative sessions, with the goal of relaxing or eliminating food safety regulations for retail goods. In total, 15 of these legislation have passed into law.

Alabama’s cottage foods statute was expanded, allowing for internet sales, eliminating the gross profits cap, and mandating nutrition labeling (SB 160).

Arkansas’s cottage food legislation has recently been broadened to encompass internet sales (HB 1118). The Food Freedom Act, adopted by the state, exempts producers of handmade food and beverages from license, certification, and inspection (SB 248).

AB 831 in California would compel a cottage food company to advertise that the food is prepared or packaged in a home kitchen.

The Colorado legislature passed Senate Bill 21-079, which deregulated meat sales. The statute permits the selling of meat from a shared animal (rabbit, cattle, elk, sheep, pigs, bison, and goats, but not fish) without license, regulation, or inspection by a public health body.

Florida increased its cottage food business by raising yearly total sales, allowing cottage food sales by mail, and preempting local governments from regulating cottage food operations by banning local governments from regulating cottage food operations (HB 663).

In Illinois, SB 2007 (Public Act 0633) requires cottage food enterprises to meet specific food safety standards. Local health agencies are required by law to register cottage food operations and to sample the water utilized in such activities. The legislation mandates that each cottage food product supplied be sealed in a way that discloses tampering and bans the shipment of a cottage food product out of state. It also exempts from state control the selling of non-potentially dangerous baked products for fundraising purposes by a religious, philanthropic, or nonprofit organization. The law includes a provision for home rule preemption.

The Indiana legislature solicited suggestions from state agencies on home-based vendors (SB 185, P.L. 140).

Montana passed the Local Food Choice Act, which exempts home-cooked food producers from state licensing, permitting, certification, and labeling regulations (SB 199, Chap. 04 30).

The Handmade Food Act (HB 177, Chap. 98) was passed by the New Mexico legislature, which creates labeling standards, exempts nonhazardous homemade food products from regulation, and preempts local control of homemade foods.

Oklahoma passed House Bill 1032, which exempts the manufacture and sale of handmade food items from licensing and other restrictions imposed by the State Departments of Health and Agriculture, Food, and Forestry. Alcoholic drinks, unpasteurized milk, and cannabis or marijuana products are not permitted in homemade food products.

In Utah, the legislature passed HB 94, which permits microenterprise home kitchens.

Wyoming’s food freedom statute was expanded by allowing the sale of eggs and handmade meals in compliance with federal exemptions (HB 1118, Chap. 42).

Food Distribution

Food delivery legislation has been passed in five states.

The Fair Food Delivery Act was passed in Arkansas (HB 1426). Food delivery must have a contract with a food facility in order to accept food orders and deliver food orders produced by the food facility to clients.

SB 21-035 in Colorado makes it illegal for a third-party delivery service to arrange a pickup from a retail food outlet without their approval.

New Hampshire passed HB 593 (Chapter 144), which requires food service delivery to engage into an agreement with the food business or retail store before providing delivery service from that facility.

During COVID-19, the New Jersey legislature passed S 2437 (P.L. C 42), which restricts service fees paid to restaurants by third-party takeout and delivery services.

Texas Senate Bill 911 governs the regulation of restaurants and third-party meal delivery services, as well as the granting of alcoholic beverage certificates to restaurants.

Food Insecurity

In total, four bills addressing food deserts were passed.

Maryland addressed food deserts (HB 831 and SB 723) by establishing the Food Safety System Resiliency Council to address the pandemic’s food insecurity crisis, develop recommendations to increase the food system’s long-term resiliency, 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 passed LD 691 to help farmers and combat food insecurity.

SB 141 in Utah asks for the formation of a food security task committee.

The New York legislature has directed the Commissioner of Agriculture and Markets to prepare a report on the state’s farm and food supply, focusing on ways to improve the resiliency of food supply chain logistics in order to address food shortages, food waste, 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).

Donation and Provision of Food

Supermarkets donating extra food to hunger relief groups are covered under New York A 963, S 901 (Chapter 63).

New York A 1262, SB 878 (Chap. 15) concerns the state’s collaboration with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to get approvals and establish online fresh food purchase alternatives across the state.

Texas House Bill 1276 would expand access to bulk food by enabling foodservice companies to sell certain consumer food goods directly to individuals.

West Virginia’s state agriculture bill was changed (HB 2633, Chap. 7).

Meat and Meat Products

Meat-related legislation has been passed in nine states.

Arkansas House Bill 1315 delegated the state’s meat inspection program to the Arkansas Department of Agriculture.

LD 66 in Maine modifies the regulations controlling the processing of cattle and poultry products for human consumption. The legislation forbids the sale of horsemeat and restricts meat sales to “cattle, sheep, swine, goats, or an exotic animal listed by the federal statute, but not deer, rabbits, or equines” (HB 66, Sess. 2021). LD 77 allows the Maine Department of Marine Resources to charge an application fee for entering a scallop license lottery (HB 77, Sess. 2021).

Montana became a member of the Interstate Cooperative Meatpacking Compact (HB 336, Chap. 05 07).

Nebraska’s Meat and Poultry Inspection Law was modified. LB 324 would permit the purchase of meat through an animal share contract, which is a written contract between a customer and a farmer or rancher that creates an ownership stake in an animal or herd of animals. The meat sold must be inspected by the USDA; nevertheless, the legislation allows a producer to sell packages of meat to customers under a federal law custom exception.

HB 1353 (Chap. 0318) of Virginia modifies current code pertaining to the Federal Meat Inspection Act and the Federal Poultry Products Inspection Act. In addition, Virginia adopted HB 1448 and SB 791 (Chap. 0201) to manage the menhaden fishery in accordance with the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s Interstate Fishery Management Plan for Atlantic Menhaden.

HB 51 (Chap. 155) of Wyoming allows a state government initiative to increase and improve meat processing capabilities. HB 54 (Chap. 44) modifies the duties of the Wyoming Business Council to demand support for agricultural and meat processing businesses, increases allowable loans and grants to Wyoming meat producers and processors, and restricts state regulatory authority relating to meat processing.

Micro Markets

SB 20 was passed in Indiana to regulate micro-market food sales. The legislation defines a “vending machine” as a self-service gadget that may be operated by using a smartphone software application. The legislation also requires the owner or operator of a micro-market to inform the corporation or municipal health department where the micro-market is located within 10 business days after the market’s establishment.

Food Retailing

California passed AB 831, which amended its retail food legislation to include commercially prepared hazardous cold or frozen foods in the culinary responsibilities of a charitable feeding operation. It also allows satellite food services to operate within a permanent food facility and exempts pushcarts from the requirements for mechanical exhaust ventilation systems.

According to Oklahoma House Bill 1772, snow cone stands that serve hot drinks in addition to snow cones must get a multi-seasonal license from the State Board of Health.

Texas S.B. 617 defines a “producer” as someone who adds value to the food product the person is selling, and it specifies that farmers’ markets must include a majority of its vendors who are farmers or food producers selling food directly to customers. The bill would compensate farmers’ market sellers for the costs of initiating legal action to enforce the legislation, if required.

Program for Supplemental Nutrition and Assistance (SNAP)

Five states have passed SNAP legislation.

Connecticut’s House Bill 6385 includes chicken eggs in the state’s Farmers Market/WIC and Senior Nutrition Programs. Hawaii’s SB 512 (Act 177) repeals the state’s healthy food incentive program’s $10/day cap. The law also permits the purchase of health proteins through the program.

The Maryland legislature passed SB 913, which creates the Heat and Eat Program under SNAP, expands food availability, and investigates whether SNAP users should be automatically qualified for the state’s Energy Assistance Program.

A 4240 (P.L. C 93) in New Jersey provides a technical improvement to the SNAP application procedure. AB 5405 (P.L. C 67) of the state legislature appropriates $10 million to food bank groups.

Tennessee Senate Bill 751 (Chap. 515) imposes punishments for certain actions including illegally receiving food aid.

Filling Stations for Water Bottles

Louisiana House Bill 132 mandates that all newly constructed public school buildings include water bottle refill facilities.


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