Representative Calls Regulatory Schemes into Question

Confusion over homemade food regulations

By Deborah Aylward

Statutes relating to homemade food regulation, trade name registration when the term “farmers market” is used in the business or domestic nonprofit’s name, and conformance with the definition of farmers market do not align to support the interests of the regulated, and are fraught with a risk of a complaint and imposition of enforcement of penalties. This is why I undertook to tackle these problems by proposing HB 1685 (with amendment), HB 1327, and HB 1090.

Doing a deep dive into the industry, over the past two years the state of regulated homemade foods; farmers markets; trade name registration, and conformance with the definition of “farmers market” was objectively and thoroughly investigated only to discover that the reality of the marketplace and the laws governing these matters were askew.

For example, the state imposes a double standard whereby certain domestic nonprofits engage in activities, such as serving potentially hazardous foods (requiring temperature control for safety) made in residential kitchens and served at community dinners, for example, that are exempt from regulation, while those who are in the business of making homemade foods are prohibited from selling the very same foods to the public to derive income — unless licensed!

These community dinners serve thousands across the state annually, and if a source of foodborne illness, would indeed be banned. Other states have enacted Food Freedom Laws that are part of a movement to deregulate the homemade foods industry — because studies have found that claims about foodborne illness are unsubstantiated, but instead, have found foods made in residential kitchens to be inherently “safe”!

HB 1685 aims to expand economic opportunities, provide food diversity and availability, and assure the implementation of SNAP/EBT, and other benefits remain locally available for the food insecure and veterans.

The three bills are related and evidence-based. It will take passing all three to make the laws fair and reasonable for the regulated. Until then, these regulatory schemes are inequitable, intolerable, and, in one case, unenforceable, and are, therefore, called into question. As legislators, we need to do better for our constituents. 

The bills can be reviewed at the General Court website:
HB 1685
HB 1090:
HB 1327: