More Americans want their food natural, traditionally sourced and eco-friendly — and 2019 food and beverage laws reflect that philosophy.
Thousands of new laws went into effect in the U.S. on Jan. 1 2019. Fermented food and drink producers need to take note because dozens of those new state and municipal laws will aid fermentation businesses and, in some cases, hurt businesses.
From new rules (increased minimum wage in 19 states) to less regulation (lenient homemade food sale laws; fewer restrictions on craft breweries), to planet saving measures (ban on straws in California restaurants; ban on styrofoam containers in New York restaurants) here’s a breakdown of the major laws affecting the fermentation industry.
HB2484 – Food tax is now uniform, a requirement that bans an additional tax for a specific food item. Lawmakers suggested imposing a higher tax on soda and alcohol.
SB1022 – Certain homemade food items can be sold to the public without an inspection by the health department. The food is limited to: fruit jams and jellies, dry mixes, honey, dry pasta and roasted nuts. The food also must be prepared by someone with a food handler’s permit and sales must advertise that it was made in a home kitchen not subject to health inspection.
Arkansas Tax Reform and Relief Legislative Task Force – Sales tax on groceries drops from 1.5 percent to 0.125 percent.
SB946 – Sidewalk vending is no longer a crime under the Safe Sidewalk Vending Act. Vendors can determine where they’d like to operate, without asking an adjacent business for permission. Cities and counties will regulate street vendors.
AB1884 – In an attempt to curb ocean waste, single-use plastic straws are only available at a diner’s request. The law applies to full-service restaurants; fast-food establishments are exempt. Violating restaurants could be fined $25 a day and up to $300 annually.
AB626 – Amends state food code to legalize home-based food sales or “microenterprise home kitchens.” Cities and counties are now in charge of permitting small-scale home cooks who want to sell to the public.
SB826 – Publicly-held companies with headquarters in California are required to elect a minimum of one woman on their board by the end of 2019. By the end of 2021, a company with a five-member board must have two women on their board; a company with six or more directors needs three women on their board. Violators face fines of $100,000-$300,000.
SB243 – An update to an alcohol law passed from the Prohibition-era, full-strength beer can now be sold in Colorado grocery stores. Previously, the law only allowed grocery store beer with 3.2 percent alcohol by weight.
HB4568 – Called the Healthy Local Food Incentives Program, the bill increases low-income residents access to healthy food. Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program dollars now include food from farmers markets.
HF2391 – The law decreases liability for bars, restaurants and other establishments that serve alcohol to a visibly intoxicated person. Previously, any alcoholic beverage licensee was on the hook for all damages caused by a person who became intoxicated while at the licensee’s establishment. Now, non-economic damages cap at $250,000 for an injury or death. There’s still no cap for economic damages.
HB136 – Repealing an old cap on craft brewers sales to customers, breweries can now sell three cases and two kegs per customer onsite.
LD1693 – Clarifying Main liquor laws, a complete separation of two retail liquor establishments is now amended. A manufacturing facility and retail establishment at the same location do not need seperation.
SB410 – Bakers selling their fresh baked goods can now package their product in wrapped or covered containers, for sanitation purposes. Law formerly required all dry food items to be sold without packaging so products could be sold based on their weight.
A2015 – Food – prepared by a third-party, licensed vendor — is now allowed to be sold at small breweries.
SB8078 – New York’s food service businesses can no longer sell or serve food in styrofoam containers. After a six month grace period, fines will cost $250 for a first offense, $500 for a second offense and $1,000 for three or more.
HB1433 – Known as the “Food Freedom Act,” the bill allows unlicensed cooks to sell homemade products. Meat and raw dairy products are still exempt.
N.C. Farm Act of 2018 – The act includes two sections relating to the fermentation industry. First, vegan, plant-based milk (like almond, rice, soy or coconut) cannot label itself as “milk” — but only if 10 other states adopt similar mislabeling policies. Second, the food and vegetable handler definition has expanded. Anyone dealing with the transfer of fruit and vegetables from a North Carolina farmer will be required to register with the state’s agriculture department.
Malt Beverage & Liquor Tax – Starting in July, the state will collect 6 percent sales tax from breweries and taprooms. Breweries have been tax exempt under state law, helping the state’s thriving craft brewery scene.
S2502 – Eliminates the state’s confusing regulations for street food vendors. The law simplified and streamlined the registration process for food trucks and food carts. Local municipalities now oversee location and hours of operation.
SB173 – Craft and microbrewers can now sell their beer directly to restaurants without a distributor, as long as it’s under 1,500 barrels. Brewers can also make up to 30,000 barrels a year while still keeping licenses that allow offsite taprooms and wine and cider sales. Former law put the limit at 5,000 barrels.
HB345 – The state passed the strictest drunk driving law in the nation lowering the level for driving under the influence as .05 BAC. The National Transportation Safety Board urged all states to drop the BAC to this level in 2017, but many in the alcohol service industry criticize the law for targeting social drinkers rather than drunk drivers.