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Utah lawmaker wants to make our food more free

Utah lawmaker wants to make our food more free

(KUTV) This legislative session, Rep. Marc Roberts is focused on food.

The Santaquin Republican has a number of eating-related bills in the pipeline -- including one that has attracted some early opposition.

House Bill 144, known as the "Food Freedom Act," seeks to strip away state regulations that people currently have to go through if they want to sell food products direct to consumer.

"There's people who bake, create, produce all kinds of great food products and their neighbors will be like, well, can we buy this from you?" Roberts said. "And they can't sell it to them."

The bill, which Roberts said was inspired by one that passed in Wyoming last year, does not apply to most meats. But for other food, Roberts said, he believes the consumer can decide whether it's safe.

"They're going to inspect and figure for the most part these things out," he said.

But state officials think the bill is dangerous.

"We have a lot of concerns," said Travis Waller, director of regulatory services at the Utah Department of Agriculture. "We refer to the 'Food Freedom Act' as the 'Freedom from Food Safety Act.'"

Waller said the bill will put more people at risk for food-borne illnesses and create a larger potential for unsafe food production.

"Homes can be clean or they can be dirty but without an inspection, there's no one there to monitor that," he said, adding he doesn't think the bill is "right for Utah or any other state."

Roberts also has two other food-related bills moving through the Legislature this session. House Bill 115 would loosen regulations on beekeeping in Utah. House Joint Resolution 2 -- a constitutional amendment -- would reaffirm the right of people in the state to grow their own food.

All three of these bills have to pass a legislative committee before they go any further in the process.

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