Food and food safety were on the dockets of many state legislatures in 2021 – Food Safety News

Editor’s Note:   The following article was first published this past Wednesday by the National Environmental Health Association (NEHA) under the headline: “2021 State Enacted Legislation: Food June 2021.”  The author is Doug Farquhar, JD, who is NEHA’s new director of its Government Affairs department.

Until late 2020, Farquhar was the long-time director of the Environmental Health Program at the National Conference of State Legislatures.  At NCSL, Farquhar helped developed tools that improved the non-partisan policy shop’s ability to track state legislative actions in real-time.   

He was generous in sharing that work with Food Safety News when he was at NCLS and we are pleased to report he continues to be helpful to us at NEHA.

Just a word on the timing. Most state legislatures have adjourned for the year.  There are a handful of exceptions. California and Pennsylvania go year-round. And an occasional special session, usually on budget issues, remains possible in other states.

But with state legislature mostly shut down for the year, Doug Farquhar’s latest analysis of what the “Laboratories of Democracy” did when it came to food and food safety, could not be more timely.

By Doug Farquhar, JD

State legislatures introduced several hundred bills related to food during the 2021 legislative sessions. Almost every state introduced legislation regarding food—including food delivery, cannabis, COVID-19, and food freedom —a nd state legislatures heard about proposed policy changes to food laws.

NEHA tracked 382 bills in 36 states with 58 bills being enacted in 25 states. Several states remain in session and additional bills could be enacted before the end of the session (aka sine die). A majority of the states, however, have ended their sessions for 2021.

The main issues NEHA tracked were cannabis in food, COVID-19 and food, cottage foods and food freedom, food deserts, food delivery, meats, micro-markets, raw milk,

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