News and Views from California's 43rd Assembly District.
Friday, June 29, 2012
Los Feliz Ledger: Mike Gatto's Homemade Food Act
Last year, my constituent Mark Stambler was shut down by the Los Angeles Dept. of Environmental Health for selling homemade bread to a local cheese shop, but not for health violations. Mark was shut down because he didn’t bake his bread in fancy—-and expensive—commercial ovens.
This action counters the spirit of artisan food making and entrepreneurship that strengthens our community.
In response, I introduced the California Homemade Food Act to allow homemade bakers and other safe food producers to bake and supplement their incomes.
This act—consistent with recent law changes of 32 other states—makes foods, including breads, tortillas, jams, jellies, and cookies, available for sale.
The legislation establishes a two-tier system of operations based upon the point of sale or trade. Homemade bakers opting to sell directly to the consumer would be subject to registration with the local health department and the completion of a food handler’s course. Producers opting to sell through a retail outlet, such as a neighborhood coffee shop, would be subject to inspections by the local health department. Both would have labels declaring their products “homemade” and have traceable information.
Farmer’s markets and street fairs are flourishing in California. They bring a sense of community in a modern, impersonal world. If we can promote these interpersonal relationships at a time when people are struggling to supplement their incomes, then we have accomplished something important for our neighborhoods and small businesses—the goal of the California Homemade Food Act.
Hearty, homemade treats created in community kitchens make their way to a growing number of local bakeries and farmer’s markets—let’s keep this wonderful traditional alive and available for everyone.
Mike Gatto is the Assistant Speaker Pro Tempore of the California State Assembly. He represents Los Feliz, Silver Lake, and portions of Atwater Village along with the cities of Burbank and Glendale and the Los Angeles neighborhoods of Toluca Lake, Valley Glen, North Hollywood, and Van Nuys. He has served in the Assembly since June 2010. His web site is asm.ca.gov/gatto or e-mail Mike at:firstname.lastname@example.org, or call him at (818) 558-3043.