Proposed Virginia law would allow sale of uninspected home processed food

A few weeks ago my neighbor told me about a how he was making kimchi, a fermented cabbage, carrot and onion concoction, in is kitchen. He put some vegetables into a mason jar, added some water, put the lid on it and tightened it as hard as it could go. Then he left it on the counter for a week. Although he created a pretty nice environment for botulinum toxin production, he luckily didn’t paralyze himself or his family.

After we chatted about fermentation, anaerobic environments and botulism, he decided he’d buy kimchi.

Kenric Ward writes at that some Virginians are looking to change state law around purchasing processed food from neighbors.original_ARTICLE-IMAGE-kimchi-jars-finedininglovers

Virginians who try to sell homemade food from their kitchens are feeling the heat from state and local inspectors.

“I have to turn down my neighbors when they ask if they can buy pesto I make from my own basil plants,”

HB 1290, sponsored by Delegate Rob Bell, R-Charlottesville, would end home-kitchen inspections on items produced for direct sale. The goods would bear a label stating that the products are not for resale and were processed without state inspection.

“If someone wants to buy food from someone, what business is that of the state?” asks Matthew French, a farmer in Bland, Va. “The state basically comes at you with a gun, and says you can only buy from state-approved supplier.”

The push for fresh, locally made food is gaining ground,” French told in an interview. “Buyers want to know the person who’s preparing their food. People want it — and the state is getting in the way,” he said.

My neighbor is a great guy, but he’s not a food processor.

This entry was posted in Food Safety Policy, Other Microorganisms and tagged , , by Ben Chapman. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ben Chapman

Dr. Ben Chapman is a professor and food safety extension specialist at North Carolina State University. As a teenager, a Saturday afternoon viewing of the classic cable movie, Outbreak, sparked his interest in pathogens and public health. With the goal of less foodborne illness, his group designs, implements, and evaluates food safety strategies, messages, and media from farm-to-fork. Through reality-based research, Chapman investigates behaviors and creates interventions aimed at amateur and professional food handlers, managers, and organizational decision-makers; the gate keepers of safe food. Ben co-hosts a biweekly podcast called Food Safety Talk and tries to further engage folks online through Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and, maybe not surprisingly, Pinterest. Follow on Twitter @benjaminchapman.