Homemade Food Law Food Producers Battle Bureaucrats

In some states, cottage food laws have evolved. In North Dakota, residents have greatly benefited from their food freedom laws. That all changed at the beginning of 2020. What is very interesting there is, the laws have not changed. What did change was regulations put into place by the North Dakota Health Department.

In 2017, the state legislature passed some of the most lenient cottage food laws allowing many homemade meals to be sold by home bakers. The passage of those laws have created many new jobs across the state. What is important to note is that there have been no food related illness complaints against the cottage food law producers.

Unelected Health Department Officials Oppose the Laws

LawsShortly after the cottage food laws were passed with a large majority, the health department began to greatly limit what cottage laws could permit. They tried for two consecutive years to get changes to the laws passed with no success.

Faced with those failures, the unelected and unrepresentative health department simply acted on its own to pass new regulations that went into effect on January 1, 2020. These regulations severely limit the freedom of the home food producers and failure to comply can result in fines and even jail time.

Determined North Dakotans Take Up a Fight

According to Forbes “The cottage food creators have teamed up with the Institute for Justice to sue the Department in court. Bureaucrats do not get to unilaterally rewrite the law. The role of those in the executive branch is to enforce the laws passed by the Legislature. When legislators refused to change the law to their liking, the Department may not simply go around them. Not only are the regulations illegal, but they are so poorly written that they violate the North Dakota state constitution; the regulators can’t, for example, treat similar foods differently. The cheesecake makers and the cheese pizza makers must be treated the same.”

This battle is one to watch. Cottage food bakers will want to pay attention to the what the courts decide about whether passing those regulations is legal.


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