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Desirability and Constitutionality Of Local Food Acts Questioned

03/29/2022

Over the past four years a series of laws have either been proposed of enacted in various states permitting homeowners to prepare foods for sale without state licenses or inspection.  In April 2021, Montana adopted the Local Food Choice Act.  This legislation “allows for the sale and consumption of homemade food and food products and to encourage the expansion of agricultural sales by ranches, farms and home-based producers and the accessibility of homemade food and food products to informed end-consumers”. The law has now been challenged by the Senior Public Health Sanitarian for the Montana Department of Health and Human Services, serving as the plaintiff pro se.

 

At issue is the fact that the law does not distinguish between interstate and intrastate commerce, rendering the Act void. The Act fails to provide equal consumer protection for high-risk foods.  The law does, however, exclude meat that is still subject to the Montana federally-sanctioned inspection program.

 

Various state laws permitting sale of non-inspected home foods and raw milk and overturning mandatory vaccination against childhood diseases conflict with accepted standards of hygiene. Injudicious legislation enacted in pursuit of ‘freedom’ is the direct extension of a mindset rejecting reasonable and scientifically proven measures to promote public health. A reversion to 19th century approaches to food safety is extensively promoted and funded by extreme conservative and libertarian advocates.

 

Adoption of laws that permit and promote the sale of uninspected food and non-pasteurized milk will have deleterious effects on public health and ultimately will add to medical costs and place an additional burden on society.