Utah Gov. Gary Herbert has less than one week to sign or veto the “Home-Consumption and Homemade Food Act” that sailed through the state legislature with only seven dissenting votes.
The Utah Food Act is not another “Food Freedom” law because its protections do not apply to raw milk or raw dairy products, meat or some poultry.
The Utah Food Act will cover poultry producers that slaughter no more than 1,000 birds per year under a USDA exemption and for sales of domesticated rabbit meat pending a similar approval.
Utah pledges to maintain equal or better standards than required by the Federal Meat and Poultry Inspection Act for state-regulated slaughter facilities. Maine’s “Food Freedom” Act failed to include such clarifying language, causing USDA to threaten to shut down its custom meat industry.
The Utah Food Act also preserves the state Department of Agriculture’s “role in meat inspection.” It also says nothing in the new law can be “construed to impede the Department of Health in the investigation of foodborne illness.”
Herbert is not likely to veto HB181. It passed the Utah House on a vote of 64-to-7 on Feb. 13. Three representatives were either absent or not voting. Then March 2, the Senate approved the Utah Food Act, 24-0 with five absent or not voting.
The bill reached Herbert’s desk March 5. He has 10 days to act, or the bill becomes law without his signature.
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Except for those limitations, Utah’s Food Act is a close cousin of “Food Freedom” laws adopted by Maine, Wyoming, and North Dakota. It prohibits state agencies from imposing any additional requirements on those covered by the act.