October 16, 2018

Missouri Bill Would End Regulation of Farm Sales

A bill that may be introduced to the Missouri legislature would end regulation on farm-produced products sold directly to the consumer. House Bill 866 is sponsored by State Representative Mike Moon (R-Ash Grove). Moon has not been able to get the bill scheduled on the calendar.

ProduceThe bill states that the farmer “must retain the right to choose” whether the products will be regulated by the state or local agencies. If the foods sold are not inspected or regulated, a sign must be posted warning consumers that the items are not regulated. The consumer then “retains the responsibility” that the products are wholesome.

Food poisoning outbreaks linked to farm-sold goods have been numerous in the past few years.¬†For instance, the Campylobacter outbreak linked to Family Cow raw milk in Pennsylvania was one of the nation’s largest, sickening 80 people in four states. The milk was sold directly from the farm to consumers; and it was regulated. And a study conducted at the University of Washington found Salmonella and E. coli on herbs sold at farmers’ markets in California, Seattle, and Washington.

The bill doesn’t give farmers immunity from liability for gross negligence, but it also doesn’t protect consumers from foodborne illness. Unfortunately, consumers are unable to tell by looking, smelling, or tasting food if it is contaminated by pathogenic bacteria. They will only know that the food wasn’t safe if they get sick.

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