North Dakota’s State Health Council has approved the rules it had proposed for cottage food products during a special meeting on Monday, Oct. 28, despite widespread criticism from cottage food proponents that the rules will be too onerous and restrictive.
The proposed rules mirrored a 2019 bill that failed in the legislature, amidst dueling arguments about food safety and food freedom.
The State Health Council is the governing and advisory board for the Health Department, and includes two state senators.
In a media release, the Health Council said the rules are needed to clarify what was written into state law under the North Dakota Cottage Foods Act, which went into effect on Aug. 1, 2017, after approval by the 65th Legislative Assembly.
The intent of the law was to allow for the sale of uninspected, homemade cottage food products.
“It’s not uncommon for law to need additional clarification after a new bill is passed,” said Mylynn Tufte, North Dakota State Health Officer. “The proposed rules clarify definitions and language to the benefit of both business owners and public health. It also addresses public health concerns over low-acid home canned foods that may produce serious illness such as botulism. Our primary goal is to protect the health and safety of North Dakotans and the proposed rules do that.”
The proposed rules do not affect baked goods, jams, jellies, or hundreds of other food and drink products adopted under the original Cottage Foods Act. The proposed rules also define and clarify procedures relating to illness or environmental health investigations.
The approved rules will be submitted to the Legislative Council and placed on the agenda for the Administrative Rules Committee meeting in December.