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Legislative Report

The start of the California Legislative season has just begun and the following is a short list of bills worthy of Food Orange County’s attention.

AB49 Overuse of antibiotics in livestock. This bill was introduced by Assembly Member Mullin (in San Mateo). He describes the bill’s purpose, as “there is substantial scientific evidence that the overuse of antibiotics leads to bacterial immunity and diminished effectiveness of antibiotics in humans. Eighty percent of antibiotics used in the United States are delivered to food livestock and many livestock producers administer antibiotics when there is no disease present. Currently Federal law only provides for a voluntary reduction of antibiotics use by the livestock industry.”

AB226 Creates Fishermen’s Market. (Aktins) This bill changes the CA Food Code and would create a new type of non-permanent on-land food sales facility (“fishermen’s market” – sort of like a farmer’s market but for fish) that would sell legally caught fresh or frozen fish caught or aquaponically produced in California. This stems from the trials and tribulations to open an on-land fishermen’s market in San Diego for the last two years (it is legal to sell directly from the boat).

AB234 Food Sales. (Gordon) This bill aims to clarify last year’s AB1990 and would “authorize a community fresh food producer or gleaner to sell or provide whole uncut fruits or vegetables, or unrefrigerated shell eggs, directly to a permitted food facility.” There is concern that the language of AB1990 could be construed to unnecessarily limit some scale producers and gleaners because of paperwork and standard pack requirement language in existing regulations.

SB27 Livestock; Use of Antibiotics. (Hill) In some ways similar to AB49 this proposed bill would make it unlawful to administer an antibiotic drug to “livestock solely to cause an increased rate of weight gain or improved feed efficiency. The bill would also require the Department of Food and Agriculture to develop a program to track the use of medically important antimicrobial drugs in livestock and to track antibiotic-resistant bacteria and patterns of emerging resistance, and would also require the department, until March 1, 2020, to submit an annual report summarizing that data to the Legislature. The bill would also require the department to adopt regulations to promote the judicious use of medically important antimicrobial drugs in livestock.”

AB292 School Lunch Time. (Santiago) This bill would require school districts and county offices of education to ensure that each of the schools in their district provides adequate time for students to eat lunch after being served, which the Department of Education has specified is 20 minutes.

SB203 Sugar Sweetened Labeling. (Monning) This bill would establish the Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Safety Warning Act, which would require safety warnings on sugar-sweetened beverages in a sealed beverage container, or multi-pack of sugar-sweetened beverages, and warnings near vending machines or soda fountain. The bill also states that the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages contributes to obesity, diabetes and tooth decay and this statement would constitute the warning.

As of this writing, no bill has been introduced to require GMO labeling in the state legislature. The deadline for introduction of new bills is February 28th.

At the national level, those interested in GMO labeling have some bills proposed that seek to mandate GMO labeling but it is doubtful any will make it out of committee. Those national bills include:

S511 (Boxer, CA) A bill that would amend the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to require that genetically engineered food and foods that contain genetically engineered ingredients be labeled accordingly.
HR393 (Young, AK) To amend the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to require labeling of genetically engineered fish.
HR913 (DeFazio, OR) Genetically Engineered Food Right-to-Know Act

Future legislative reports will focus on necessary advocacy efforts that Food Orange County members can be engaged with over this legislative season.

Lastly, the National Dietary Draft Advisory Guidelines are out. Its an improvement over past guidelines but will face an uphill fight from meat producers and other industrial ag interests. An interesting article in the New York Times can be found online at: